Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Slow Burn Theatre: Assasins (2 reviews)

The Slow Burn Theatre Company opened its production of Stephen Sondheim's Assassins on April 29 for a very brief run at the West Boca Performing Arts Center.
This 2004 Tony Award-winning show with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim lays bare the lives of nine individuals who assassinated or tried to assassinate the President of the United States, in a historical musical that explores the dark side of the American experience.
Patrick Fitzwater directed a cast that included Larry Buzzeo, Rick Peña, Matthew Korinko, Zachary Schwartz, Elijah Davis, James Carrey, Philip de la Cal, Clay Cartland, Kaitlyn O'Neill,  and Christina Groom.

Hap Erstein reviewed for The Palm Beach Post:
At Boca Raton’s Slow Burn Theatre, the increasingly assured new company dedicated to producing cult musicals, events take place at a tawdry carnival cleverly designed by Ian T. Almeida.
Standouts in the cast include Rick Pena as the roving Balladeer, who will morph into an assassin as well, bass-voiced Elijah Davis as Giuseppe Zangara, would-be killer of FDR, and Slow Burn’s co-founder Matthew Korinko as a charismatic Booth. Director Patrick Fitzwater often reaches for anger over comedy, which frequently works, but he loses much-needed laughs for Samuel Byck (James Carrey), who tried to crash a plane into the Nixon White House.
Like most of Sondheim’s works, Assassins is exceedingly difficult to pull off, but this production should bring the company some new fans.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Boca Raton's Slow Burn Theatre has taken on a huge challenge in choosing Assassins as the follow-up to its debut production of the Off-Broadway hit Bat Boy... The Good news is, that for the most part, Slow Burn delivers a crackling Assassins.
Director-choreographer Patrick Fitzwater has assembled a cast that doesn't include the region's better-known, award-winning musical theater performers. Yet Slow Burn's actors disappear into the stylized personas of John Wilkes Booth, John Hinkley, Lynette "Squeaky'' Fromme and the other tortured-deluded souls who see assassination as a way of making a statement, getting noticed or securing their 15 minutes of fame.
...Larry Buzzeo reigns over the proceedings as the bizarre carnival's "Proprietor,'' ... Buzzeo's singing voice is just OK, but he nails the proprietor's cheerfully ironic delivery.
Likewise, Rick Peña falls short vocally as the Balladeer (he sometimes wanders woefully off key), but when he turns into Lee Harvey Oswald -- a reluctant misfit seduced by the other assassins into shooting John F. Kennedy -- Peña is an altogether more powerful performer.
Korinko captures Booth's period style in both song and dialogue, and he elevates every scene in which he plays a part.
The other "assassins'' are each memorable and memorably played...
The major performers, ensemble and a three-piece offstage band do more than merely navigate their way through Sondheim's tricky score. A real highlight of the show, creepy though it may be, is Unworthy of Your Love, a the duet sung by Groom and Cartland to the objects of their obsessive affection.
The Slow Burn Theatre Company production of Assassins runs through May 9, 2010.

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