REVIEW: “This vocally superb cast sings the hell out of the score”

A new review from Stage and Cinema highlights the vocal talent of the ensemble of Assassins and applauds Landmark for the “braveness” in realizing the challenges that the show puts forth.

First, gratitude to the show’s director and choreographer Megan O’Toole for taking on the challenge. Kudos to Curtis Heard and his brilliant music direction and orchestra. And a bigger hand to the cast. The Long Beach community certainly has a talented pool of singers, and this vocally superb cast sings the hell out of the score.

– Stage and Cinema

I was especially impressed with Lisa Bode Heard (Housewife, Ensemble) who shines like a beacon in “Something Just Broke,” epitomizing a vocal quality perfectly suited to many Sondheim scores.

– Stage and Cinema

When Charlie Carlos excitedly sang “How I Saved Roosevelt,” capturing with his very well-trained voice the angst and frustration … of the stomach-ailed Zangara

“Unworthy of Your Love,” the demented devotional duet to Jodie Foster and Charles Manson had Mark Waters as John Hinckley and Maddie Levy as “Squeaky” Fromme sounding terrific together — the result was lovely with Levy’s exceptionally strong pop sound (her “Squeaky” characterization was sharp and contemporary instead of spacy and ’70s)

Owen Lovejoy as Leon Czolgosz evoked the sad desperation of the factory laboring immigrant with terrific vocals in “The Gun Song.”

– Stage and Cinema

I applaud Landmark for its braveness in realizing Assassins because it is a challenge both artistically and politically.

– Stage and Cinema

Read the full review online at Stage and Cinema

RECOMMENDED: Assassins featured in Things to Do This Weekend

The Long Beach Post Hi-Lo has recommended Landmark’s production of Assassins as one of its top things to do this weekend in Long Beach.

Landmark Theatre Company brings the Tony-award-winning musical to life with a stellar cast, dynamic set design and a full theater orchestra

– Long Beach Post

Musicals by Stephen Sondheim generally need no introduction, but “Assassins” is a somewhat obscure production overshadowed by other very prominent musicals of his (“Sweeney Todd,” for example), so here’s the gist: Set in an all-American psychedelic-looking carnival house, audiences explore the lives of nine men and women who either killed (or tried to kill) one of the presidents of the United States. It’s a dark comedy that aims to undress a sinister side of the American dream and has, to much success, captivated audiences since its first Broadway production in 2004.

– Long Beach Post

You can read the full “Things to Do This Weekend” feature online here

Review: “Unlikely Setting for ‘Assassins’ Doesn’t Cramp Its Compelling Style”

Another excellent review of Assassins. This time from Greggory Moore at Random Lengths News.

Here are a number of excerpts from the review.

From the first notes of Assassins, it was clear that the small orchestra (coming to us from the basement, we were told pre-show) was on-point from horns to tambourine, and the cast could sing…

– Greggory Moore, Random Lengths News

You need a good cast to pull that off. No problem here. Jay Dysart is strong throughout and a tour de force in the play’s pivotal scene. Phineas Wilder make us unsure whether we should laugh or cry at his manic Charles Guiteau. And Maddie Levy and Emily Morgan as “Squeaky” Fromme and Sara Jane Moore —who unsuccessfully attempted to kill President Gerald Ford barely two weeks apart — have a lovely comedic chemistry.

Levy excels on the vocal front, too, especially on “Unworthy of Your Love”, a clever duet between Fromme and Hinckley (Mark Waters, doing yeoman’s work in one of the less flashy roles). As Leon Czogosz, Owen Lovejoy features prominently in the show’s best consecutive pair of songs. And as the unnamed Balladeer, Bobby Brannon is an obvious standout. Although The Balladeer is not a well-written character — central to the narrative for a while despite having no contextual tie-in, then simply disappearing from the play’s universe — Brannon lights up the stage with their smooth presence and easy vocal command. 

– Greggory Moore, Random Lengths News

Director/choreographer Megan O’Toole has made a stage that ought to be way too small for a show of this scope serve, even if just barely, blocking the proceedings to near perfection. 

– Greggory Moore, Random Lengths News

Now that I’ve discovered Long Beach Landmark Theatre Company, I hope they’ll continue to take on serious work like Assassins, as opposed to tacking toward liter, populist fare. They’re up to the challenge, and we’re all better off when our entertainment is this thoughtful and thought-provoking. 

– Greggory Moore, Random Lengths News

Read the full review online here. And get your tickets to Assassins before they sell out!

REVIEW: “Landmark’s Assassins audaciously toes the line between brilliance and madness.”

An excellent review of Assassins from Chris Daniels at The Show Report.

Here are some excerpts from the review:

In the presentation of “Assassins” that opened this past Friday night at the Long Beach Landmark Theatre, it is the comedy that works best. Director Megan O’Toole has toned down the violent factor substantially with the replacement of the usual “guns” used in the show with items like mallets and juggling balls for bullets. The beginning scenes are portrayed instead with killers toting rubber mallets, centered around a neon-lit, high striker, ring-the-bell hammer game.

Some of the segments of the show are hilarious indeed. Emily Morgan, lighter than air, and a witchy Maddie Levy make a very animated sociopathic Lucy-and-Ethel pair as Sara Jane Moore and Lynette Fromme, would-be killers of Gerald R. Ford. When Moore’s make-shift “gun” fails to discharge, she thinks fast and throws the balls at him instead.

But there is no mistaking the show’s serious intentions and its confidence in pursuing them.

The ensemble cast is vocally exceptional, with especially thrilling contributions from Jay Dysart (“Texas School Book Depository”) as Booth, Owen Lovejoy (“The Ballad of Czolgosz”) as Czolgosz, Corey Shaw (“America”) as Samuel Byck, young Sammy Schwarz (“I Shot My Dog”) as the Boy, and Bobby Brannon (“The Ballad of Booth”) as the Balladeer.

– Chris Daniels, The Show Report

And Director O’Toole has an off-center, love-obsessed Hinckley (Mark Waters) singing a beautiful folk-rock ballad called “Unworthy of Your Love” to a heedless Jodie Foster; and then when it becomes a duet with Ms. Fromme (known as Squeaky) charmingly singing to a Charles Manson, the squirmy, tragic pathos in the air becomes weighty.

Still, when Giuseppe Zangara (Charlie Carlos), in his inchoate crime against Franklin D. Roosevelt, calls himself an “American nothing,” or when the nine assassins sing together about “another national anthem” that applies to the likes of them, you may feel, as I did, the rumblings of our unsettled country in your bones. “Assassins” is the report of that unsettlement, as well as the bang.

– Chris Daniels, The Show Report

Lucas Dysart excels as Lee Harvey Oswald, proving a lynchpin of modern history, the production’s most harrowing and effective final scene.

– Chris Daniels, The Show Report

Read the full review online at The Show Report