CenterStage Takes Aim with Assassins As Elections Heat Up

Assassins, the Tony Award-winning musical by composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim and book author, John Weidman, opens on Thursday, October 27 and runs through Sunday, November 13 in the Linker Auditorium at the Jewish Community Center. Tickets are $20-22 in advance, or $22-24 at the door, and can be purchased by calling 502-238-2709, or by visiting

Assassins is a one-act historical “revusical” centered around the lives of the nine individuals who assassinated, or attempted to assassinate, a President of the United States. From John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald, writers, Sondheim and Weidman, bend the rules of time and space, taking the audience on a nightmarish roller coaster ride into a world where assassins, and would-be assassins all from different historical periods, meet, interact and inspire each other to commit harrowing acts, all in the name of the “American Dream.”

Assassins seems to be more relevant now than when it was originally written in 1990,” said CenterStage Artistic Director, John R. Leffert. “As the musical begins, we are met with an opening number proclaiming “Everybody’s got the right to their dreams”. Something we’re taught and believe is promised, but it is American mythology that makes this promise. So then what happens when, no matter how hard we try, our dreams are not attained? Someone must be held responsible.”

The nine assassins all share a desperate need to reconcile their belief in this American myth with their own sense of personal hopelessness. Deluding themselves that their “one great deed” will maintain or restore the perfect nation, they believe they have righted a fundamental wrong and acted in accordance with “American” ideals. Assassins asks its audience the question “What does it mean to be an American?”

“Aren’t these the same issues facing our divided country today?” asks Leffert. “Everyone believes they are right and the policies and decisions being made or not made, are in the best interest of our country. They then, of course, must be more ‘American’ than their opponents.”

“Due to recent terrorist attacks and mass shootings throughout our nation and the world, one cannot hear the title of this musical and not have a visceral reaction. These are frightening times. As we are drawn into the crazed complexities of the assassins’ minds, we are forced to recognize the extent to which violence has become commonplace in our national life.”

As theatre critic, Frank Rich stated in his New York Times review of Assassins (1/28/91), “There is a shadow America, a poisoned, have-not America, that must be recognized by the prosperous majority if the violence in or history is to be understood and overcome.”

The remainder of CenterStage’s 16/17 season will include Funny Girl (Jan. 26-Feb. 12, 2017), Disney’s Mary Poppins (March 16-April 2, 2017), and Sondheim on Sondheim (May 11-21, 2017). Season subscriptions are still available. Subscribers receive priority seating, save 20 percent on the price of tickets and receive discounts to other J Arts & Ideas events. People can subscribe by contacting The J at 502-238-2763.

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