Composers and playwrights have never shied away from dealing with unusual topics for their musical shows. They have dealt with mental illness ( Next to Normal ), sinking ships (“Titanic”). AIDS ( “The Normal Heart”) and even large green creatures who live in a swamp (“Shrek”). It takes a special mind, however, to conjure up a theatrical experience that deals with men and women who set out to kill our Presidents. Whether they succeed or not, their stories are bizarre, macabre and worthy of a song or three.
That at least is the opinion of composer Stephen Sondheim, with a book by John Weidman, based on an idea by Charles Gilbert, Jr., in the Tony Award winning musical “Assassins.” The Nancy Marine Studio Theatre at the Warner Theatre in Torrington will become a carnival show to highlight the nine historical figures, like John Wilkes Booth (Ian Diedrich) and John Hinckley (Josh Newey) who have made a name for themselves by their heinous deeds, weekends from Saturday, September 26 to Sunday, October 4.You, the audience, are invited to probe the recesses of the minds of these deeply disturbed individuals, to be shocked by the black humor and complicated issues involved. One hundred years of American history will be paraded by and you are not asked for sympathy or empathy, but rather for a level of understanding of the problems that plagued these human beings.The show features a Balladeer (Noel Roberge) who serves as the narrator and provides the stories of each of the assassins musically, in a number of folk singing genres. You will meet characters like Charles Guiteau (Joe Harding) who killed President James Garfield, Lee Harvey Oswald (Noel Roberge) who took the life of John Kennedy, and Samuel Byck (Matt Cornish) who tried to kill President Richard Nixon.The shooting gallery at the carnival corners all the action as the Proprietor (Jonathan Ross) provides the weapons of choice for all the participants. He entices them to play the game, promising that shooting a President will bizarrely solve their problems, in the song “Everybody’s Got the Right.” Meanwhile the Balladeer, who represents the American Dream, tells each character’s story in turn. Please be forewarned that this show may not be suitable for all ages due to its subject matter. Katherine Ray will direct and Dan Koch will oversee the music.For tickets ($29), call the Warner Theatre, 82 Main Street, Torrington at 860-489-7180 or online at www.warnertheatre.org. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.Let the Warner Stage Company introduce you to these nine infamous personages who celebrate violence in a nightmarish and controversial manner.