Castlemaine theatre company Three’s A Crowd have taken over the Old Castlemaine Gaol for their clever production of Stephen Sondheim musical Assassins.
The musical follows the tales, trials and tribulations of some of history’s most well known assassins (and would be assassins).
A strong cast and ensemble are able to bring some life to a group of interesting individuals, many of which aren’t well known outside of the US.
John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald lead the group of killers through the black comedy that gives audiences a glimpse into the minds behind the criminals that pulled the triggers.
Three’s A Crowd’s decision to use the Old Castlemaine Gaol as a makeshift theatre is a stroke of genius.
Assassins is set at a carnival where the characters line up to win a prize for killing a president at the “Shoot to Win” game.
The setting combines the old gaol’s haunting atmosphere with the black comedy’s abstract setting to great affect.
With a fun-but-absurd storyline that includes would-be assassins from across history singing along and interacting with each other, Assassins offers simultaneously fun and concerning reasoning behind their motivation.
The highly experienced cast is well versed thanks to director Matt Sheehan.
One of the standout characters comes from Peter Hunt who plays James Garfield’s assassin Charles Guiteau.
Hunt plays Guiteau with so much energy and entertainment that the crazed killer is almost likeable, right up to the point where he stands on the gallows.
Female would-be assassins Lynette Fromme and Sara Jane Moore both tried to shoot Gerald Ford within a month of each other and are bought to life by Briega Young and Sam Heskett.
The pair have bring a great deal of laughs to a pair of characters that like Charles Manson a little too much.
Oliver Moore is also impressive as introverted and obsessed John Hinckley Jr (who attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan as is Paul Waldron who play Leon Czolgosz (who assassinated President William McKinley).
Like the rest of the cast, both Moore and Waldon get chance to showcase their strong voices.
Outside of the many impressive songs performed by both the main cast and ensemble is a number of terrific monologues that are witty and smart as well as eerie and ominous.
A slight downfall comes when you realise there are at least 10 real-life characters that you may know very little about.
It leads to a few wordy songs that can be hard to follow with some historical references missed by audiences not up on their US history.
That said, some of the character’s rants are hypnotising and full of rhyme as well as (often woefully misguided) reason.
For a production to draw audiences in with strong acting as well as strong voices is a difficult thing to do.
It shows the entire cast is rich with talent.
It will also lead history buffs and trivia nerds into an internet vortex as they try to read and learn more about the people behind some of history’s most shocking and horrifying moments.
Assassins is on in the Old Castlemaine Gaol on April 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 and 23 at 8pm.
It is also on April 10 and 17 at 2pm. For more details visit www.3ac.com.au
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