September 17, 2014  

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Southern Miss Theatre to present "Assassins"

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Southern Miss Theatre to present "Assassins"

The University of Southern Mississippi will end its Spring 2013 theatre season with the musical production of Assassins, written by Stephen Sondheim and Charles Weidman. Showtimes are April 18-20, April 25-27 at 7:30 p.m. and on April 21 and 28 at 2 p.m. in Tatum Theatre in the Theatre and Dance Building.  Admission for general public is $14; faculty, staff, seniors and military is $10; student tickets are $8.

Described as “now the greatest and perhaps best-known artist in the American musical theatre,” Stephen Sondheim is a composer and lyricist whose work has spanned more than 50 years of original work as well as numerous revivals.

Assassinstakes the form of a murderous carnival game to produce a revue style portrayal of men and women who attempted--successfully or otherwise--to assassinate American presidents.  With popular music to reflect the eras depicted, Assassins offers an historical context on America. First produced in 1990, Assassins received a major Broadway revival in 2004 for which it won five Tony Awards and the Drama Desk Award for Best Musical Revival. 

Directed by USM Theatre associate professor Robin Carr, Assassins is sure to send this theatre season out with a bang, literally.

“This has been a fantastic experience and I think it’s a perfect fit for what’s been happening politically and socially in our times, but it’s also a great fit for our department because we have great actors who understand these characters,” said Carr. 

Chase Byrd, a masters of fine arts in performance candidate from Franklin, North Carolina, is portraying John Wilkes Booth in Assassins. 

“Assassins has those elements of bright lights, dancing, and jazz hands, but it’s rather dark,” said Byrd. “The reaction with the audience is going to be the biggest thing we’re looking for, such as when they clap and for what.  It’s engrained in us to clap at the end of a musical number, but when someone has just died at the end of the musical number, the audience may wonder what they’re clapping for.”

Stephen Judd, head of Theatre’s design faculty, is scenic designer for Assassins. 

“What we’re trying to do in terms of scene design is create a world that is really fluid,” said Judd. “There are a lot of scenes in different places, times, and locales that have to change very quickly.  The audience should have a minimal awareness that they’re being moved through space and time.”

Carr is thrilled to open Assassins to local audiences.

“I love this show because it is dark and the subject matter is strange and twisted, but it still has a lot of humor in it. The audience shouldn’t be scared by ‘I’m going to a drama, or a tragedy.’ You’re going to be laughing too.”

Reserve your tickets today by contacting the Southern Miss Ticket Office at 601.266.5418 or www.southernmisstickets.com.  For more information about the Department of Theatre, call 601.266.4994 or visit www.usm.edu/theatre.