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WVU theatre students take on Sondheim’s ‘Assassins’

Assassins cast

The West Virginia University School of Theatre and Dance opens Stephen Sondheim’s dark, historic, musical satire “Assassins” Oct. 19 – 22.

“Assassins” is a musical theatre piece with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by John Weidman. The non-linear story tells history through attempted and successful assassinations in United States history. Beginning with John Wilkes Booth and ending with Lee Harvey Oswald, audience members see these crucial characters throughout history interact with each other in limbo as well as exist in their own world and environment.

 “’Assassins’ is a musical and theatrical amalgamation of history, tragedy, satire and pathos; a story told through a variety of real and fictional characters, its odd combinations and connections of people, places and events that defy time, space and logic with musical styles reflecting periods of time and popular culture in America,” said director Lee Blair. “The assassination is bigger than the assassin.  It’s bigger than the President. It affected our country…the world.  It stopped us in our tracks as a nation.  It made us fear, question, value and put our faith hopefully back in our democracy and our country.” 

WVU’s School of Theatre and Dance will present the show at the historic Metropolitan Theatre in downtown Morgantown. The shift in off-campus venue benefits both acting and technical students, giving them the opportunity to work in a different space while reaching out into the Morgantown community.

“Assassins is an underrated Sondheim show,” said Joseph Gay, a graduate acting student who plays John Wilkes Booth. “It has such a wide variety of styles and genre, both musically and theatrically. It goes from satirical to intensely dramatic within moments. The non-realistic style mixed with these historical figures allow these figures in history to be humanized, which reveals a lot about American culture at its core.”

Fellow graduate acting student Madeline Hintz, who is playing assassin Sara Jane Moore adds, “Everything about this show is relevant to what is happening still in our country, and it can be incredibly difficult at times to portray these people who had such evil intentions during these difficult times that our nation is going through right now.”

“Assassins” begins at 7:30 p.m. October 19, 20, 21, and 2 p.m. October 22. Tickets are available through the WVU Box Office’s on-campus locations, by phone at 304-293-SHOW or by visiting Ticketmaster.