SALAMANCA — History or black comedy buffs should head to the Ray Evans Seneca Theater to catch performances of the five-time Tony Award-winning musical “Assassins” during the first two weekends of May.
With around 20 actors, many of whom are familiar with the scene, director Jake Riggs said rehearsals went well. He said they were able to work together to create something special for the community to enjoy.
“I’m really happy with the way things went. It was a nice ride,” he told reporters. “It gets a little crazy when we approach the critical moment.”
Following the story of nine historical figures who attempted to assassinate US presidents, “Assassins” discusses their motivations, commonalities, and characters while questioning their actions. With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by John Weidman, the production premiered off-Broadway in 1990 and enjoyed a Broadway revival in 2004.
“It’s an old favorite of mine. I did it almost 30 years ago now,” Riggs said. “I fell in love with the show. It’s Sondheim, so it’s simple but deceptive. It’s so much fun and a haunting piece that stuck with me for years.
Historical figures such as Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr. and others will be portrayed by local actors from across the region, including some ensemble members who play multiple roles. Riggs said he’s worked with many actors before, but a couple are performing for the first time.
“It’s so funny and full of dark humor. It’s a really dark comedy,” he said of the show. “This is the weirdest subject you can think of.”
As with any show, unexpected changes developed throughout rehearsals. Riggs said the set design morphed from his original idea but came close enough.
“You have these ideas and sometimes they work well and sometimes they’re almost there,” he said. “The sketch I had practically on a napkin turned into this wonderful earthy set. I like to keep it as simple as possible so you can focus on the other things that are going on.
Riggs said the last time he performed the show was at a smaller community center, so being able to perform in a large theater with a full orchestra and stage will be a special experience.
“Even though I’ve done the show before, as with all live theater, this production is extremely unique and very special,” he said. “And it’s always fun to watch that grow because everyone brings their part of themselves.”
“Assassins” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on May 6, 7, 13 and 14 and at 2 p.m. on May 8 and 15 at the Ray Evans Seneca Theatre, 10 Main St. The show is recommended for ages 18 and older. Tickets are $15 each and can be purchased at the door or through ShowClix.com.