Meet The Assassins: Lee Harvey Oswald

Meet the actor: Nathan Brockett

Nathan Brockett joins the cast as Balladeer/Lee Harvey Oswald is thrilled to make his ACT and 5th Ave debut with this show and team. He is a recent transplant to the Northwest from Austin, TX where he graduated with a BA in Theatre Performance and just completed a two-year Meisner acting program. Brockett’s Recent Seattle credits include The Rocky Horror Show at SMT, Zapoi! at Annex Theatre, and the Gregory Award-winning production of Into the Woods with STAGEright.

Meet the assassin: Lee Harvey Oswald

Born in 1939, Lee Harvey Oswald was a former US Marine sniper who, following a troubled military service, defected to the Soviet Union before returning to the United States with a Russian wife and baby daughter a few years later. They settled in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas where he struggled to maintain a job and at one point (just eleven days before the assassination), attempted to return to the Soviet Union via Cuba.

On November 22, 1963, according to five different government investigations, Oswald assassinated President Kennedy as he traveled by motorcade through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Oswald was charged with the assassination of President Kennedy on November 23 and was murdered the following day by Jack Ruby, a night club owner, while being transferred from the police station to the county jail. Due to Ruby’s actions, Oswald’s motive for assassinating the president was never made clear.

After the assassination Kennedy, presidents stopped riding in open cars, with efforts to make vehicles presidents are transported in more secure from different forms of attack. Some of the features now standard in presidential limos may include armor plating, bullet proof windows, and an interior that is sealed off from the outside world to reduce risks of a chemical attack.

Bringing the Best to The 5th Avenue Stage

Whether it is on stage, behind the scenes, or in the orchestra pit, The 5th is thrilled to support the amazing talent based right here in Seattle. We employ over 800 artists and artisans, making us the largest arts employer in the Pacific Northwest. The help from our donors plays a huge role in our ability to work with world-class performers and creative artists, full live orchestras, and stage imaginative and innovative productions like we saw from our most recent production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.


 

This wonderful show would not have been complete without the incredible costume design by a local designer, Rose Pederson. She captures the energy of the era and the zingy nature of the show, creating the looks that brought the characters alive onstage. Her sixties-era designs included vintage pieces uncovered on shopping trips in Los Angeles seen alongside the “Paris Originals” built by master artists in our own 5th Avenue costume shop.  The spirited designs for the role of Hedy LaRue (seen below and as played by Jessica Skerritt ) brought the perfect touch to this sassy character.

HedyDesign.jpg

Just look at what the reviews have said about the incredible artists involved:

Even the zingy new orchestrations by the irreplaceable Bruce Monroe honor the intent and effect of the original” –Talking Broadway

The biggest ace up Berry’s sleeve is the nearly unerring casting of the show, in fact the best overall casting I have seen at The 5th in some years.”- Talking Broadway

Bob Richard has come up with some of the best men-in-suits (and women too) choreography I’ve seen.”- Broadwayworld.com

A visual treat … This show looks and sounds like a million bucks.”- Seattle Gay Scene

Thank you to all of those who support us and make the magic possible!

Meet the Assassins: Highlights

Booth
Louis Hobson portrays infamous assassin John Wilkes Booth

JOHN WILKES BOOTH

Arguably the most well-known presidential assassin in our nation’s history, John Wilkes Booth was an American stage actor and Confederate sympathizer. Born in 1838 into a prominent theatrical family, Booth made his stage debut at the age of 17 and quickly developed a reputation as an outrageous scene stealer, strikingly handsome and intensely physical onstage.

As the Civil War began to tear the country apart, Booth continued to perform extensively across the country, though he was arrested in St. Louis at one point for “treasonous remarks” against the President and the government. In late 1864, he even developed a plot to kidnap President Lincoln and smuggle him into Richmond, Virginia in an effort to bring victory to the South. A last minute change in plans on the part of the President foiled the plan. Continue reading “Meet the Assassins: Highlights”

An Interview with ACT’s Artistic Director John Langs

What was your first experience with Assassins and how does that inform your approach today?

I worked on a production of Assassins in college with [set designer] Brian Bembridge—and Brian and I have continued to work together for 20 years. It was a powerful early theatre experience for me, one of those times when I dropped into the power of language as carried by music, and its ability to open people up to mystery. There’s a lot of magic in the piece, something a little mysterious and sinister, but incredibly appealing. I think that those early impulses and feelings have traveled with me through the years.

How do you think the container of Sondheim’s music and those American themes inform the content?

The character of The Balladeer in this production is the all-American troubadour, but his job is to tell the story of historical assassins. It’s a way for Sondheim to say: Open your heart to this music, to America, and now take a look at what’s really there.

Which ties into the big question: why do Assassins now?

We chose the musical in an election year deliberately. ACT proves itself over and over again to not be adverse to risk; it’s a place where we want to have conversations— and certainly gun control has, most recently and very tragically in our country, become a flashpoint. I think the thing that’s still true about America is that there is a promise that if you work hard, you will get ahead. And when people find out that promise to them is broken, sometimes they will do extreme things to manifest that which they cannot through acts of goodness. [In Assassins] you have a bunch of people who are seeking celebrity, or a place in history, or a moment to matter, because they’ve been so absolutely disenfranchised. I think when we created the American promise, we inadvertently created the possibility of a broken promise, and these [characters] are people who bought into that promise, and feel that it’s been out of their reach.

What unique or additional artistic opportunities are afforded to you by working with The 5th Avenue Theatre?

What the leadership at The 5th Avenue brings is a terrific discussion about the form of musical theatre, and there’s a wonderful debate in order to find a show that fits the missions of both theatres. If you stripped the music out of Assassins, you would still have a story that was compelling and fascinating; the poetry, depth of language, and ambition of the discussion is revelatory—and that is what ACT looks for in a play. I think the sweetness of Assassins is this musical spoonful of sugar to help it begin to go down easier before it opens up underneath you, and speaks in a more powerful way—because music is a conduit to the heart that’s so immediate. That’s what makes this a perfect thing here.

What do you see as the most exciting or challenging aspects of directing this musical?

I’ve never directed any of these actors before. I’ve admired their work in a lot of what I’ve seen around town, [but] they’re all new to me. And that’s thrilling! I began the process with a great deal of enthusiasm and also the humility to know that there are relationships that have to be built.

Is there anything that you want people to know about Assassins before they watch it?

I think that there’s sort of a dark magic woven into this piece, I really do. It is a satire, not a celebration. Great art stirs you up and can make you angry. But after the anger comes the conversation. After the heartache comes a sort of epiphany. And I think that’s what this play offers really well.

By KENNA KETTRICK, ACT YPP Administrator
Photo by TRUMAN BUFFETT

Stephen Sondheim: The Master of the Musical

Stephen Sondheim is our greatest musical theater dramatist. From his first produced work, West Side Story, to his most recent, Road Show, he has brought a playwright’s careful plotting and an actor’s toolbox of subtext, timing, and stagecraft to the writing of music and lyrics. His songs are complete dramatic texts, conceived as written “performances,” with nuances, pauses, and stage action written into the score.

Continue reading “Stephen Sondheim: The Master of the Musical”

Meet The Assassins: John Wilkes Booth

 

Meet the Actor: Louis Hobson

Louis Hobson is a regular on The 5th Avenue stage, with performances in Jacques Brel, Jasper in Deadland (cast album), A Room with a View, Spamalot, West Side Story, Miss Saigon, Hair, and Pippin. His Broadway credits and Cast Albums include Next to Normal (2010 Pulitzer Prize), Bonnie & Clyde, Leap of Faith, and The People in the Picture. Hobson can also be seen in films and on television including C.O.G. (Sundance 2013), Laggies (Sundance 2014), Lucky Them (TIFF 2014), The Man in the High Castle (Amazon), and opposite Viggo Mortensen in Captain Fantastic (Sundance 2016).  Hobson is the president & co-founder of Indie Theatrical, with stage and entertainment properties currently in development in the U.S., Asia and South America. indietheatrical.com

Meet the Assassin: John Wilkes Booth

Arguably the most well-known presidential assassin in our nation’s history, John Wilkes Booth was an American stage actor and Confederate sympathizer. Born in 1838 into a prominent theatrical family, Booth made his stage debut at the age of 17 and quickly developed a reputation as an outrageous scene stealer, strikingly handsome and intensely physical onstage.

As Civil War began to tear the country apart, Booth continued to perform extensively across the country. He was very vocal about his opposition to Abraham Lincoln and his support for slavery, and at one point was arrested in St. Louis  for “treasonous remarks” against the president and the government. In late 1864, he even developed a plot to kidnap President Lincoln and smuggle him into Richmond in an effort to bring victory to the South. A last minute change in plans on the part of the president foiled the plan.

On the morning of Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Booth learned that the President and First Lady would be attending a performance of the play Our American Cousin that very evening.  Fueled by this disdain for Lincoln, Booth would become the first person in the history of United States to assassinate a president, shooting the President in the back of the head.

Photo by MARK & TRACY PHOTOGRAPHY

Can You Succeed…? with Ethan Stowell and Stephen Krempl

Can you succeed in business without really trying? Our Community Engagement Specialist Kwapi Vengesayi wanted to find out. In the second of a three-part series, we meet Ethan Stowell and Stephen Krempl and hear what they have to say. It’s interesting to consider how many of these suggestions and recommendations for succeeding in business are applicable to working in the arts as well!


Inspired by our production of How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying, I went out into the community to ask a few inspirational people from diverse backgrounds and professions a few questions about their success. Here were their answers.

ETHAN STOWELL

Ethan Stowell is the executive chef and owner of Ethan Stowell Restaurants. His highly acclaimed restaurants include Tavolàta, How to Cook a Wolf, Anchovies & Olives, Staple & Fancy Mercantile, Ballard Pizza Company, Rione XIII, Bar Cotto, Mkt., REd Cow, Frēlard Pizza Company, and Braming Cross, as well as Goldfinch Tavern in Four Seasons Hotel Seattle. His food philosophy is all about keeping it simple, using fresh ingredients and allowing the food to do the talking. Deeply devoted to his hometown, Stowell is a fervent advocate committed to seeing that Seattle is recognized nationally as a culinary destination.

Hear what Stowell had to say about hard work, surrounding yourself with good people, and loving what you do in the video below.

STEPHEN KREMPL

Stephen Krempl is a speaker, author, consultant, and the President and CEO of Krempl Communications International (KCI). Krempl acquired his global perspective and unique style over two decades of service with Fortune 500 companies including Motorola, PepsiCo Restaurants, YUM Brands and Starbucks, where he was Chief Learning Officer and VP of Global Learning. He has now dedicated much of his time and expertise working with college students—in seminars, workshops and training opportunities—in an effort to help them figure out what is expected of them in the work world.

In this interview, Krempl explains how theater and real life are the same and how strategies for succeeding in business are often the same as those for succeeding in theater.

Produced by KWAPI VENGESAYI, Community Engagement Specialist

Flashback Friday: Sarah Rudinoff: From the Palace to the Steno Pool

Sarah SelfieHow to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying opened on January 28 on our stage, and there are MANY familiar faces and remarkable talents.

One of the stellar cast is our friend Sarah Rudinoff, checking in as sassy secretary—and Rosemary’s best friend—Smitty. Here’s a sneak peek of Sarah in one of her costumes!

But Sarah is no stranger to The 5th. Previous roles include Ruth in Wonderful Town, Hildy in On the Town.

And remember when she graced our stage in Cinderella? Watch a clip from “The Stepsisters’ Lament” below!

Catch Sarah and the rest of the steno pool in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, open NOW at The 5th Avenue. Find out more information and purchase tickets at http://www.5thavenue.org.

Meet The Assassins: Giuseppe Zangara

About the Actor: John Coons

Coons joins the cast as Giuseppe Zangara. He is thrilled to be making his 5th Ave debut with this production of Assassins.  Hailed as “powerful, funny and audacious” by CityArts, Coons has sung roles with the Seattle Opera, Eugene Opera, Skagit Opera, Inverse Opera and the Boston Opera Collaborative. He has performed with the Seattle Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Boston Symphony POPS, Atlanta Symphony, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Portland Symphony POPS and sung the national anthem for the Red Sox at Fenway Park. In addition to performing with popular artists Ben Folds, Amanda Palmer and Foreigner, his original one-man show, Six Months for Six Weeks, was released as a critically-acclaimed web series.

About the Assassin: Giuseppe Zangara

Born in Italy in 1900, Giuseppe Zangara migrated to the United States after serving in World War I. Due to both physical and mental health issues, he found difficulty working consistently and did odd jobs to stay afloat. In this troubled state, Zangara began to believe that the President of the United States was the one responsible for his pain and hardship. On February 15, 1933, Zangara attended a political event in Miami, Florida, where President Roosevelt and Chicago mayor Anton Cermak were present. He opened fire and five people were shot, including Cermack. The mayor lost his life but President Roosevelt was unharmed.

Under Florida law, a convicted murderer could not share cell space with another prisoner before his execution, but another convicted murderer was already awaiting execution at Florida State Prison in Raiford, Florida. Therefore, Zangara’s sentence required prison officials to expand their waiting area, and the “death cell” became “Death Row.” On March 20, 1933, after spending only 10 days on Death Row, Zangara was executed in “Old Sparky,” the electric chair in Raiford. Zangara became enraged when he learned that no newsreel cameras would be filming his final moments. Zangara’s final statement was “Viva Italia! Goodbye to all poor peoples everywhere! … Push the button! Go ahead, push the button!”

Come see Assassins, performed at ACT—A Contemporary Theatre. Visit our website, and search March 17-April 7 for best availability.

Check back next week for our next casting announcement!

Photo by MARK & TRACY PHOTOGRAPHY

Can You Succeed…? with Roger Levesque and Mary Knell

Can you succeed in business without really trying? Our Community Engagement Specialist, Kwapi Vengesayi wanted to find out. In this first of a three-part series, we meet Roger Levesque and Mary Knell and hear what they have to say. It’s interesting to consider how many of these suggestions and recommendations for succeeding in business are applicable to working in the arts as well!


Inspired by our production of How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying, I went out into the community with my little camera and tripod to ask a few inspirational people from diverse backgrounds and professions a few questions about their success. Here were their answers.

ROGER LEVESQUE

Roger Levesque is the Director of Community Outreach with Sounders FC (Football Club), the official soccer team of Seattle. He graduated from Stanford University where he played soccer for the Cardinals and was named second-team All-American at the end of his junio year. He was drafted by the Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes before joining the Sounders. After he stopped playing, he took time off from the soccer world and earned his Master’s degree at the UW Foster School of Business. Since coming back into the organization, Levesque has endeavored to strengthen the club’s presence in the community, spearheading many community focused initiatives and programs.

Hear what Levesque had to say about succeeding in business in the video below.

MARY KNELL

Mary Knell is the Chief Executive Officer of Wells Fargo’s Washington and Western Canada Commercial Banking teams. She is a Seattle native and graduated from the University of Washington. While in college she worked part-time as a teller and after completing her studies, she continued to work in the banking industry. Her involvement in the community and the initiatives she champions have undoubtedly inspired and empowered girls and young women who will be tomorrow’s CEOs and leaders in the business world.

Mary’s advice for succeeding in business? You can never be too prepared, but it’s still important to be flexible! Listen to some other suggestions Mary has in the video below.


Produced by KWAPI VENGESAYI, Community Engagement Specialist