Rider musical theater performance is ‘killer’

Rider musical theater students performed in “Assassins,” at the Yvonne Theater from Feb. 27 to March 3. “Assassins” was a musical following the lives of nine successful and unsuccessful assassins throughout American history.

By Tessa Douglas

Audiences were on the edge of their seats laughing, gasping and carefully listening to the production of “Assassins” in the Yvonne Theater from Feb. 27 to March 3.

The musical was based on nine people who have successfully or unsuccessfully assassinated a president. 

The production opened with a musical number featuring the Proprietor, played by senior musical theater major Sheldon Steele. The Proprietor convinced each assassin to kill a president, because it was their American right to be happy. The audience was left to wonder if the assassins wanted something beyond killing a president. 

Throughout the rest of the show, the audience watched each assassin explain why they wanted to kill a president, bringing humanity to some of the most iconic killers in American history.

To the audience, the run of the show went without flaws. However, prior to the opening, the cast and crew overcame unexpected challenges. Director Louis Goldberg only recently assumed the role of both director and music director. Mark Quackenbush, a freshman musical theater major who played the Balladeer, said “I think, with all of the extreme changes that occurred within this production so last minute, everybody did a phenomenal job.”

During this version of “Assassins,” the ensemble, for the most part, remained on stage the entire time by watching the performance of their fellow peers from the platforms toward the back of the stage. 

One stand-out musical number was “How I Saved Roosevelt.” This song featured junior musical theater major Alejandro Navarro as Giuseppe Zangara. Navarro lit up the stage with his sinister laugh and thick Italian accent. The ensemble supported Navarro’s performance by portraying the reactions of American citizens. 

“My favorite part of the show [was] performing with my brother during The Ballad of Guiteau,” Quackenbush said. This musical number was also a stand-out because of  how well Mark Quackenbush and junior musical theater major Jason Quackenbush complemented each other. This iconic duo demanded the attention of the audience through song and dance.

Junior musical theater major Wyatt Slone gave a heart-touching performance as Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who assassinated President John F. Kennedy. Slone introduced the audience to the idea that Oswald wanted to belong to something bigger, and they took in every word Slone said. The scene also showed the audience how connected the assassins were to each other.

Jerome Mannings, a sophomore musical theater major said “I thought everyone was incredible. The direction was very creative and interesting in a good way.” With such a difficult subject to handle and with so many changes during the rehearsal process, the cast, crew and creative team came together in a performance that brought American history to life.

Published in the 3/6/19 edition.

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