REVIEWS: Actor-Muso Assassins
"Angry men don’t write the rules and guns don’t right the wrongs. America’s got a problem…Sondheim has a solution. Never a more poignant and relevant time in our current political climate than right now has it been so appropriate to produce a production of Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins. Pallas Theatre Collective is boldly daring to do so, and it draws striking attention to the world around us at present. Directed by Clare Shaffer with Musical Direction by Alex Thompson, this jarring and thought-provoking musical might be exactly what the nation needs to put the wheels of change spinning in motion."
"Director Clare Shaffer has framed up the production around a twisted carnival, fully interweaving this atmospheric idea into the performance by making each of the performers musicians as well. One might say that Shaffer’s musical mobilization of the actors was instrumental in executing her idea. At times, it completely replicates the notion of the band on the grand stand at a state fair... all of the individuals who take up instruments— be it euphonium, xylophone, triangle, or the more traditional trumpet, and trombone— do an exceptional job of playing their way through the score."
"Reinforcing the notion of the twisted carnival and warped wonderland are Properties Designer Pauline Lamb (who doubles as the show’s Choreographer) and Sound Designer Reid May. Lamb strings up various fairground-style prizes— complete with tickets— all across the back wall of the play space, to help cement the notion that each shot taken could be a simple carnival game on the midway. May’s auditory enhancements flow in the same vein with the congratulatory bell-dings when they “win their prize” if an assassin is successful. All of these support beams strengthen Shaffer’s concept, including the State-Fair-esque costume design by Joan Lawrence. The Proprietor’s Boat Hat, the gleaming whites of the ensemble, all of these little nuances help to complete the environment that Shaffer has envisioned for approaching Assassins.... Relevant, striking, and perfect for the time, Pallas Theatre Collective has a production that you’ll want to invest in."
"Pallas Theatre Collective's production, superbly directed by Clare Shaffer, follows the carnival-like atmosphere dictated by John Weidman's book.... The company plays Michael Starobin's complicated orchestrations with musical grace and perfection."
"Director Clare Shaffer proves that she is one of the area's best up and coming directors. She really gets into the heads of the assassins and makes them seem human rather than just lunatics... As presented by Pallas Theatre Collective, Assassins is one of those shows that is expertly executed by everyone involved."
"Director Clare Shaffer has ingeniously shoehorned the show into the black box at Logan by casting actors who double as musicians, such that at times they are the orchestra seated stage left and right and at times they are center stage singing and dancing and playing their instruments. The carnivalesque quotient of this choice pays off enormously in pleasure."
"...a delightfully sassy Assassins... Pallas has a track record of staging with panache contemporary musicals with political bite, and Assassinsterrifically showcases the company’s audacious command of the form... an inventive variety of staging styles... the material is entertaining and unsettling in equal measure."
"Clearly, this musical wants us to attend to the assassins’ interior lives in order to understand who they were as people and why they did what they did. Not to condone what they did. Not to make them out to be heroes or sympathetic. But to reckon with what made them each tick and not just dismiss them as deranged."
-DC Metro Theatre Arts
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