Ok, so I missed a month! Sorry, I was up to my eyeballs in Sondheim! Yes, Assassins has opened in Melbourne to a wild audience response, wonderful reviews and three days after we opened is COMPLETELY SOLD OUT!
I’m so proud of the production and the amazing cast.
The reviews say it all;
“Director Tyran Parke has done remarkably well with this production of Sondheim’s lesser-known Assassins, first staged off-Broadway in 1990 and locally by the Melbourne Theatre Company in 1995….The final numbers are brilliantly realised.
This is social critique with high kicks and harmonies. The Age
This production, by new company Watch This, captures the bizarre nature of the characters and the wry humour, political satire and moral commentary of the script… In a compelling, abstract world, killers from different time periods collide, sing about their obsessions, explain their motives through monologues, scenes and songs, including the poignant November 22, 1963, in which people recall where they were when Kennedy was shot.
Nadine Garner’s bold, comic characterisation of failed assassin, Sara Jane Moore, is hilarious, and her comic timing and delivery are deliciously wicked.
Luigi Lucente gives a compassionate, complex portrayal of Leon Czolgosz, the downtrodden factory worker who kills President McKinley as a political statement. The Herald Sun
Weidman’s book sparkles like it was written yesterday, but the showpiece here really is Sondheim’s score. Twenty-three years after its off-Broadway debut, it still packs a mean punch… Nick Simpson-Deeks as The Balladeer — who has possibly the prettiest voice in musical theatre — gets the best material in the show, sharing The Ballad of Booth and The Ballad of Guiteau with the respective assassins, and busts out his masterful acting chops in his eleven-o-clock transformation into Lee Harvey Oswald.
Nadine Garner as the manic, gangly Sarah Jane Moore is phenomenal. Her brilliantly bizarre line readings and switchblade-sharp timing are as good as anything on a Broadway stage. Aaron Tsindos as Charles Guiteau, is marvellous. You can’t take your eyes off his demented, egomanical, smiley-faced soft-shoe. Matt Holly is heartbreakingly good as John Hinckley, Jr. The cast are — for the most part — stellar… Shane Nagle as Samuel Byck delivers an incredible performance… The reveal of entirely different set pieces and a backdrop — the raw, window-laden wall of the space itself — towards the end of the show is brilliant… This is the first professional production of the show since the Melbourne Theatre Company did it in 1995; don’t wait 18 years for another one. Crikey
Mark Dickinson’s portrayal of John Wilkes Booth struck the perfect note between hilarity and tragic irony. Vocally he was powerful. He inhabited the role of the vain actor so completely that the audience felt as if they were living within the character. The duet, The Ballad of Booth, performed by Dickinson and Nick Simpson-Deeks, as the balladeer, was impeccable…Aaron Tsindos gave a brilliant performance as Charles Guiteau, endearing all the way to the gallows. Again Simpson-Deeks was called upon to chronicle the demise of Guiteau as the balladeer creating the second stand out number of the evening. Nadine Garner proved she has great skill as a comedic theatre performer with possibly the best part of the book, Sarah Jane Moore. She wonderfully brought to life a sad and forgotten housewife whom it was impossible for the audience not to love. Her comic timing was impeccable. And while we’re on the topic of impeccable comic timing, Shane Nagle rates a special mention. As a struggling Santa Claus and would be Nixon assassin, Nagle delivered his monologues with such pathos that you almost found yourself rooting for him to succeed in his plot… The set design was interesting- a carnival like environment artfully created with a shooting gallery of men in suits with targets for head, representing each president… Assassins is well worth the cost of admission to see the performances from the entire ensemble who managed to fully entertain for the duration. Stage Whispers
Sondheim fans don’t need anyone to convince them to see a production of Assassins, and they are selling out fortyfivedownstairs every night to see new a company, Watch This, take aim and fire… Watch This is Sonya Suares’s (who was General Manager of Red Stitch) new company and this debut has assured that Melbourne’s music theatre lovers are already looking forward to their next production… With a rehearsal time that was counted in days, not weeks, their Assasins is assured and complex and deserving of its full houses. While there’s an inconsistency among performances and voices, this doesn’t take away from the production and leaves us imagining how amazing they will be with the support and funding to rehearse for a reasonable amount of time… Sondheim fans, don’t wait to get a ticket for Assassins because there might not be many left. It’s not a perfect production, but it captures the mood and power of the work, asks questions that resonate, introduces some terrific new talent (and reminds us why we love some of the old) and as this is Watch This’s first show, I’ll be first in line for their next one. Aussietheatre.com
‘Everybody’s got the right to their dreams!’ With these deceivingly sunny words we are drawn into the grim world of Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins, a dark twisted carnival in which the murderers of history exist in a fantastical purgatory… Mark Dickinson as John Wilkes Booth brings a sonorous baritone and combination of Southern and Satanic charm to the role, quietly commanding every scene he enters. Nadine Garner is pitch perfect as Sarah Jane Moore, one of the two ladies who attempted to kill Gerald Ford, and her scenes with Sonya Suares as Lynette Fromme are a comic delight. The rest of the cast deliver solid performances… Director Tyran Parke is to be commended for his direction of the show, and his vision shines through strongly in the assassins’ individual songs and scenes … Parke and the cast do a fantastic job of humanising the characters and mining the comedic potential of the material.”Theatre Press.
Next up, I will be performing in ‘A Light in the Dark’ in Auckland NZ on the 25th May. It’ll be my NZ cabaret debut which is really exciting! Details to come.
And of course, the big one is ‘Compositions, a musical close up’ which premieres at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in June and brings together my brother, Trent’s award winning photographs with songs written by some of the best music theatre composers in the world. The show was recently launched in Adelaide to a great response;
So much to do! Hope to see you in a theatre soon!