Monday, July 26, 2010

The Assassins , Concent Chamber, Auckland Town Hall,14 August 2010

Sally and I attended last Friday and thoroughly enjoyed the show Cabaret is not a regular event in Auckland. When living in Wellington in the mid 1970s we were spoiled by Red Mole's performances at Carmen's Balcony every Sunday night.

Wellington was not only our political capital but also our cultural centre.
New Zealand was at a time of change. A colourful transvestite,Carmen had run for the mayoralty of Wellington. Piggy Muldoon was elected Prime Minster, tens of thousands of people were in the streets. Maritime unions were leaving the nuclear warships unattended in the harbour. Hello Sailor had a hit with 'Gutter Black', the Rolling Stones were Exiling on Mainstreet and the Eagles had discovered the Hotel California. It was a time of inspired and impassioned writing.

Sadly we no longer do Cabaret about happenings in our own country and rely for our desires being filled by imported stories. This comment is not to belittle this production of "Assassins" or "The Threepenny Opera" which was also put on by this wonderful Silo company. It has been along time in between drinks and we were thirsty for cabaret. With a rich anticipation and high hopes we attended.
We were not disappointed and almost fully agree with the Herald's review below.

Janet McAllister completely omits any comment on the performance of Natalie Medlock. Medlock is a young actor who plays the role of Squeaky Fromme and also a sensuous and aloof Emma Goldman well. The inclusion of Anarchist Emma Goldman was a surprise to me, an elementary scholar of American history. It was great though, adding another layer to a rich American story.
My conclusion is that all these Assassins should have been institutionalized. They were all mad as snakes.

By Janet McAllister

Actor/assassin John Wilkes Booth might have killed Abraham Lincoln because he earned bad reviews but - spoiler alert! - our national leaders won't get shot because of what you're reading now.

Silo Theatre has once again put on a stylish, dark and enthralling musical - following up 2008's Threepenny Opera, they put the sass into Assassins.

The designers have paid attention to every detail so that the vaudeville atmosphere is all-encompassing even before the show proper begins.

Grant Winterburn and his first-rate band warm up as people enter the Concert Chamber, and an enormous shabby stars-and-stripes circus tent envelops the audience's cabaret tables. John Verryt's fabulous ratty tatty set boasts a fairground shooting gallery of presidential cut-outs (most of them recognisable).

The Stephen Sondheim show purports to explain three killers and six would-be killers of American presidents over 120-odd years - their motives range from high ideals to high hopes of gaining fame or sex appeal.
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The John Weidman book is slightly flawed - it harangues once or twice, and both the women, Sara Jane Moore and Lynette Fromme, are falsely portrayed as dizzy airheads who knew each other; in fact, as the programme acknowledges, Moore was "complex and dangerous".

But overall, the show is clever and funny, full of gunshots and sardonic quips: "Don't be scared - you won't prevail" goes the opening number. The "American" Dream of hard work guaranteeing success - prevalent in Godzone too - betrays many.

Directed by Oliver Driver, the ensemble are lively, well-paced and well-rehearsed; they make the technically complex show with inventive props look easy.

Mitchell Butel - playing Booth - was worth importing from Australia: he is impressively precise with a beautiful Southern drawl and snappy dance moves - all "fancy silks" and moustachio'd red lips. The old character hands also have a ball: Cameron Rhodes hams it up outrageously in his grimy Santa suit.

As the Balladeer, tall newcomer Gareth Williams channels Burt Bacharach in a white suit flashing white teeth before magically transforming into a convincing, stooped Lee Harvey Oswald. Bronwyn Bradley as Moore is an entertaining scatterbrain in a leisure suit and blue eyeshadow.

Commendably, adult tickets are $25-$55. These killings are a steal.

What: Assassins.

Where: Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall.

When: Until August 14.
By Janet McAllister | Email Janet

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Geri Spieler (United States)
10:38AM Monday, 26 Jul 2010
Your review is right on target. While "Assassins" is entertaining, the facts are extremely "off target." Sara Jane Moore and Lynette Squeaky Fromme never knew each other. Moore was not a Manson woman and the two only met years later when both were incarcarated at the FCI Terminal Island, San Pedro.

Moore's actions were never revealed as at the time Betty Ford was in recovery for alcoholism and Moore actually missed Ford's head by six inches, which was also never revealed until 30 years later. Fromme never had intentions of killing Ford. She was only trying to get arrested to get closer to Charles Manson.

How do I know all this? I published a book in Jan. 2009 called, "Taking Aim At The President: The Remarkable Story of the Woman Who Shot at Gerald Ford." Moore was working with an underground terrorist organization called Tribal Thumb and it was her second shot what was foiled. She got off a first shot and missed Ford's head by six inches as the sight was off of the gun she used.

Her aim was true, according to Judge Samuel Conti, who is still on the bench in San Francisco.