Darren Barefoot
Darren Barefoot

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July 22, 2003

I'm not ashamed to admit it, I like a good musical. Tonight I went to Assassins at the Waterfront Theatre. By Steven Sondheim, it tells the story of those who succeeded and failed in killing US presidents. A wacky subject, certainly, but fine fodder for Sondheim's often sardonic lyrics.

In terms of small-scale professional theatre, it was very well done. The voices were strong, the direction clean, the staging utilitarian. There were some hokey lighting effects and some downright stupid projections (who didn't see the Zapruder film shtick coming?) The script is a tad wordy, but generally pretty entertaining. And resonant. When Same Byck talks about hijacking a 747 to crash it into the Whitehouse and kill Nixon, it's got a creepy verisimilitude. The script is also educational, for us Canadians who aren't familiar with lesser presidential assassins, such as Leon Czolgosz or Lynette Fromme.

Johnny Booth was a handsome devil,
Got up in his rings and fancy silks.
Had him a temper but kept it level.
Everybody called him Wilkes.

Why did you do it, Johnny?
Nobody agrees.
You who had everything,
What made you bring
A nation to its knees?


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