Whodunit?

By ALBERT EVANS, 5th Avenue Artistic Associate

A cloud obscures the moon. A window shatters. A woman screams. Silence. Then…a car speeds away.

There has been a murder!

Never fear: the Great Detective is on the case, aided by a faithful but slightly befuddled companion.

Through the Detective’s keen powers of deduction and extensive knowledge of ceramics, pipe tobaccos, etc., the time has come to pin the crime on the perpetrator. All the suspects are brought together in one room to answer the question on everyone’s mind—

WHODUNIT?

Continue reading “Whodunit?”

Meet The Assassins: Leon Czolgosz

Meet the Actor: Brandon O’Neill

Brandon O’Neill joins the cast as Leon Czolgosz.  He has performed on the ACT stage in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Ramayana for which he received both a Broadway World Award and a Footlight Award, and First Date, which earned him a Gregory Award nomination. He has been seen recently at The 5th Avenue Theatre in Carousel, The Pirates of Penzance, for which he received a Gregory Award nomination, Guys and Dolls which earned him a Footlight Award, and many others.

O’Neill’s regional work includes Seattle Rep (A View From The Bridge), Casa Manana (Miss Saigon), North Shore Music Theatre (Joseph…) and the Ordway Center (Pirates of Penzance and Cabaret). O’Neill originated the role of “Kassim” in Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway. His voice can be heard nightly on Broadway and in London as The Voice of the Cave of Wonders. He can also been seen as Uldren Sov in Bungie’s epic video game franchise, Destiny.

Meet the Assassin: Leon Czolgosz

Born in 1873, Leon Czolgosz was the son of Polish immigrants. A steel worker by trade, the poor working conditions and low wages led to him become interested in socialist and anarchist ideologies. After losing his job and battling depression, he immersed himself further into the study of socialism and anarchy, believing that there to be great inequality and injustice in the American system and a complicit government.

Inspired by Gaetano Bresci, a European anarchist that had assassinated King Umberto I of Italy, Czolgosz set his sights on President William McKinley whom he assassinated in 1901. After the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901, Congress informally requested that the Secret Service provide presidential protection. A year later, the Secret Service assumed full-time responsibility for presidential protection.


Come see Assassins, performed at ACT—A Contemporary Theatre. Visit our website, and search March 18-April 7 for best availability.

Photo by Tracy Martin of MARK & TRACY PHOTOGRAPHY

Thoughts on Assassins: Human Qualities in These Stories of Unfulfilled Hopes

I have loved the score of Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins since I first heard the off-Broadway soundtrack in the early 1990s. The stylistically varied music reflected the historic scope of the tales being told and offered a unification of storytelling the likes of which I had never heard.  I was a bit nervous to see my first professional staging of a score I had loved and had strong feelings about for such a long time, but seeing this Assassins was a full realization of all that I could imagine for this show. I left feeling drained but also knowing that I had experienced an important work of stagecraft.

Continue reading “Thoughts on Assassins: Human Qualities in These Stories of Unfulfilled Hopes”

Meet The Assassins: Emma Goldman

Kjerstine Anderson WebMeet the Actor: Kjerstine Anderson

Kjerstine Anderson makes her 5th Avenue and ACT debutas Emma Goldman in Assassins. Her regional work includes seven seasons with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival: Into the Woods (Little Red Riding Hood), The Unfortunates, My Fair Lady, The Servant of Two Masters, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Distracted, Cyrano de Bergerac, As You Like It, All’s Well That Ends Well, The Winters Tale. She was seen at Cal Shakes in King Lear (Cordelia/The Fool) and in the Idaho Shakespeare Festival/Great Lakes Theater Festival in The Taming of The Shrew (Bianca). She was seen recently in Seattle in Book-It Repertory Theater’s Sense and Sensibility (Elinor).

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Meet the Assassin: Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman was an anarchist known for her political activism who also interacted several times with Leon Czolgosz. She has appeared as a character in two musicals, Assassins and Ragtime, and has also appeared as a character in multiple films. Known as “the most dangerous woman in America” for her anarchist and feminist  ideals in a conservative time period, Goldman is now recognized as being far ahead of her time. She was a prolific writer, penning countless pamphlets and articles on a diverse range of subjects, ultimately authoring 6 books.


Come see Assassins, performed at ACT—A Contemporary Theatre. Visit our website, and search March 18-April 7 for best availability.

Photo by Tracy Martin of MARK & TRACY PHOTOGRAPHY

Thoughts on Assassins: Gun Violence, the American Dream, and The Cult of Celebrity

My feelings about Assassins, the co-production between The 5th Avenue Theater and ACT, are difficult to unpack, but I will attempt to share some of my thoughts. I saw the show right after a Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense meeting where I learned some staggering statistics about American children growing up in homes with loaded and unlocked guns. I learned that children in America are 11 times more likely to be killed by a gun in the home than children in other developed countries. I also learned that 1.7 million children live in homes where there is a loaded and unlocked gun. And I heard the heartbreaking stories of children killed, unintentionally, by guns. I left this meeting to see the new production of Assassins at ACT and I was geared up for a challenging show that dealt with the complex issue of guns in America. But I was wrong. Yes, there are guns featured (there’s even a song dedicated to their allure). Yes, there are gun shots (lots of them, and they are loud). And yes, presidents are killed, but there is very little violence. In fact, there is no blood spilled on stage. The only glimpse the audience gets of a dead man is when one of the assassins is hanged for his crime.

Assassins is not about guns, or even gun violence. Instead, it is about what it means to be American and to seek the Dream that is part of our national psyche. It is about the cult of celebrity and what makes someone famous. It is about mental illness. It is about history and all of the people, both good and bad, who make up the story of our country. But ultimately it is about humanity, both the dark and light sides of being human.

Sondheim does not glorify the lives of the Assassins. But he does humanize them. Despite the heinous acts these people committed (and yes, I believe murder is a heinous act), they are human and have the same hopes, desires and dreams that we all have. What surprised (and troubled) me the most in seeing the show was how often I empathized with the men and women featured. I have felt feelings of loneliness and despair. I understand the feeling of not being heard or appreciated. And I share feelings of frustration with government and society at large. But I don’t believe that the answer to my own struggle is to shoot someone in order to make myself heard. And that is where I, and the assassins portrayed in the show, differ.

Assassins is about a group of people desperate to be heard, but who feel lost and hopeless. The show opens with the song “Everybody’s Got the Right (To be Happy).” Isn’t that the American Dream? “Everybody’s got the right to their dreams…Everybody’s got the right to some sunshine,” sing the show’s characters. And this is true. Our country was founded on the principles that we are free to make our own choices and free to speak our minds. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But at what cost? In Assassins, Sondheim gives us 9 men and women who are lost in their own pursuit of happiness and who, in acts of desperation, commit or attempt to commit murder to make a statement.

And they become celebrities. It is ironic that the only actor from the 1860s whose name anyone remembers is John Wilkes Booth. He became famous not for his work on stage, but for killing President Lincoln in Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865. The musical forces us, the audience, to question the “cult of celebrity” and consider who becomes famous and why.

For me, the heart of the show comes with the song “Something Just Broke.” All the actors are on stage singing about hearing “the President’s been shot” and feeling all of the grief and loss that come in that moment. But there’s something more. There is also the feeling that we as a society are “broke[n].” People feel so disconnected, that we cannot find an avenue for our voice, and some feel the need to act out in extreme ways. Sondheim and Weidman are not advocating for murder, but they are forcing us, as members of a society, to investigate how and why we feel disenfranchised. Perhaps that is what we see and hear playing out in this year’s election cycle?

I left the theatre feeling sad, but also hopeful. That may sound like a paradox, but I walked away feeling the need to talk to people, to share my thoughts and to find ways to connect. Perhaps if we connect more, talk more, love more and care more than we will not feel so alone and desperate in the world.

And that is the power of good theatre.

By ANYA RUDNICK, Director of Education and Outreach
Photo by TRACY MARTINMark and Tracy Photography

Meet The Assassins: John Hinckley

Meet The Actor: Frederick Hagreen


Frederick Hagreen  is elated to make his ACT debut playing John Hinckley in  Assassins. His recent Seattle credits include critically acclaimed Come From Away (Seattle Rep); American Idiot, Really, Really (ArtsWest); Jasper in Deadland, Pirates of Penzance (5th Avenue Theatre); Mary Poppins, and Les Miserables (Village Theatre), among others.

Meet The Assassin: John Hinckley Jr.

John Hinckley, Jr. developed an obsession with a young Jodie Foster after watching the 1976 film Taxi Driver, about the same time in his life that he was first prescribed anti-depressants and tranquilizers to deal with “emotional issues.” Hinckley was so driven by his obsession with Foster that when she entered Yale University, he quickly moved to New Haven, enrolling in a Yale writing class in order to slip poems and messages under her door. After failing to develop meaningful contact with Foster, he developed a scheme to impress her by assassinating the president. He initially trailed President Jimmy Carter from state to state before being arrested in Nashville on a firearms charge. He returned home, penniless.

Despite continued treatment for his depression, Hinckley’s mental health did not improve and he developed a new plan around newly-elected president Ronald Reagan. On March 30, 1981, Hinckley shot a .22 caliber revolver six times at Reagan as he departed the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C.  While he did not hit the president directly, a bullet ricocheted off the limousine door and seriously wounded Regan in the chest. Hinckley’s shots also wounded a police office, a secret service agent, and press secretary James Brady, who was hit in the side of the head and paralyzed on the left side of his body.

Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982 and has been confined to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. since that time. His obsession with Foster continues today.


Come see Assassins, performed at ACT—A Contemporary Theatre. Visit our website, and search March 18-April 7 for best availability.

Photo by Mark Kitaoka of MARK & TRACY PHOTOGRAPHY

Meet The Assassins: Sara Jane Moore

Meet the actor: Kendra Kassebaum

5th Avenue Theatre regular Kendra Kassebaum joins the cast as Sara Jane Moore. Previous 5th Ave and ACT credits include Jacques Brel…The Secret Garden, A Little Night MusicCompanyCinderella, ELF.   Her work on Broadway and in New York includes Wicked (Glinda), RENT (Maureen), Assassins (Ensemble/Squeaky Fromme us), Leap of Faith (Sam)MTC’s The Receptionist (Lorraine), and Roundabout Theatre’s A Little Night Music (Petra). Her local work includes critically acclaimed Seattle Rep’s Come From Away.  Kassebaum’s regional credits include the Actors Theater of Louisville, Sundance Writer’s Lab, San Jose Rep, Ordway Center, Florida Stage, St. Louis Muny and the Arizona Theatre Company. Her film and recording credits include The Other WomanLeap of Faith and the Grammy-nominated Assassins cast recording.

Meet the Assassin: Sara Jane Moore

Sara Jane Moore made history for trying to assassinate President Gerald Ford just 17 days after Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme’s attempt in 1975. Moore was an accountant and involved in radical left wing politics.  Because of this connection to radical groups, she became an FBI informant.

The day before the assassination attempt, Moore had been picked up by police on an illegal handgun charge. She was released, but the police confiscated her weapon. The following morning she purchased a new handgun in haste and assumed a place among the crowd outside the St. Francis Hotel. She was about 40 feet away from the president when she fired and narrowly missed—the sites on her new .38 caliber revolver were six inches off! When she realized that she missed, she raised her arm to fire again and Oliver Sipple, a former Marine wrestled her to the ground after knocking the pistol out of her hand.

After her sentencing, Moore stated “Am I sorry I tried? Yes and no. Yes, because it accomplished little except the throw away the rest of my life. And, no, I’m not sorry I tried, because at the time it seemed a correct expression of my anger.” Moore was released on December 31, 2007 a the age of 77 after serving 32 years of her life sentence at the federal women’s prison in Dublin, California.

Come see Assassins, performed at ACT—A Contemporary Theatre. Visit our website, and search March 18-April 7 for best availability.

Photo by Tracy Martin of MARK & TRACY PHOTOGRAPHY

Announcing Our 2016/17 Season!

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Man of La Mancha

Not Seen on Our Stage in 20 Years!
October 7 – 30, 2016

Book by: Dale Wasserman
Music by: Mitch Leigh
Lyrics by: Joe Darion
Directed by: Allison Narver

One of the most epic and enduring musicals of all time, Man of La Mancha is a glorious affirmation of the unyielding resilience of the human spirit that will leave you breathless.

Inspired by one of the greatest novels in Western literature, Man of La Mancha enters the mind and world of the mad knight Don Quixote as he pursues his quest for the impossible dream. In a tale told by Cervantes himself in defense of his life’s work, Quixote is, against all odds, a man who sees good and innocence in a world filled with darkness and despair.

Featuring stirring classic songs including “The Impossible Dream,” Man of La Mancha is a multi-Tony Award®-winning theatrical masterpiece that blurs the line between dreams and reality in a powerful celebration of the imagination.

 

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Disney’s The Little Mermaid

Disney’s Classic Brought to Life
November 23 – December 31

Music by: Alan Menken
Lyrics by: Doug Wright
Directed by: Glenn Casale

This holiday season, join us “Under the Sea” at The 5th Avenue Theatre for this spectacular production of the Broadway musical, Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Headstrong Ariel is no longer content to live on the ocean floor under her father, King Triton’s, rule. Convinced she’ll only find happiness on land, she sets off to find a world where she belongs, battling a sea witch and finding true love along the way.

Adults and children alike will revel in the Academy Award®-winning hits by the legendary Alan Menken including “Kiss the Girl” and “Part of Your World.” This spectacular new production will feature dazzling costumes, a stunning pop-up book inspired set and visual effects that are pure magic. So trade in your fleece for flippers this winter and make Disney’s The Little Mermaid part of your world.

 

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The Pajama Game

First Time at The 5th!
February 9 – March 5, 2017

Music & lyrics by: Richard Adler & Jerry Ross
Book by: George Abbott & Richard Bissell
Based on the novel 7 ½ cents by: Richard Bissell
Directed by: Bill Berry

Things are getting steamy at the Sleep Tite Pajama factory where handsome new superintendent Sid Sorokin is falling hard for Babe Williams, the all-too-alluring union rep. But sparks really fly when the workers go on strike for a 7½-cent pay raise, setting off not only a conflict between management and labor, but a battle of the sexes as well.

The show that defined Fosse style with seductive dance numbers such as “Steam Heat” and “Hernando’s Hideaway,” this critically acclaimed musical won three Tony Awards® including Best Choreography and Best Musical. The swinging score includes the timeless hits “Hey There (You with The Stars in Your Eyes)” and “There Once Was a Man” performed by a sensational Seattle cast. Don’t miss The Pajama Game done as only The 5th can do it.

 

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Murder for Two

Northwest Premiere!
A Co-Production with ACT – A Contemporary Theatre
March 25 – June 4, 2017

Book by: Joe Kinosian & Kellen Blair
Lyrics by: Kellen Blair
Music by: Joe Kinosian

Get ready for a musical comedy to die for!

Everyone is a suspect in Murder for Two—a drop-dead funny murder mystery musical with a twist: One actor investigates the crime; the other plays all the suspects—and they both play the piano! A zany blend of classic musical comedy and madcap mystery, this ninety-minute whodunit is a highly theatrical duet loaded with killer laughs. Called “Ingenious” by The New York Times, Murder for Two is the perfect blend of murder, music and mayhem!

 

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The Secret Garden

A Co-Production with D.C.’s The Shakespeare Theatre Company
April 14 – May 6, 2017

Book & lyrics by: Marsha Norman
Music by: Lucy Simon
Directed by: David Armstrong
Based on the novel by: Frances Hodgson Burnett

Welcome to the hauntingly beautiful world of The Secret Garden, where hope is found blooming in the discovery of a magical garden long locked-away. Based on the beloved novel, The Secret Garden follows recently orphaned ten year old Mary Lennox, who is sent to live with her reclusive uncle in a crumbling mansion on the Yorkshire moors. When she discovers the key to a neglected garden, Mary renews life for herself and her sickly cousin, bringing the weary estate and its occupants back to exuberant life with the full force of spring.

With book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize-winner Marsha Norman and music by Lucy Simon, this captivating show will mesmerize audiences of all ages and transport you to a world where beauty and love blossom, and a forgotten seed of life can still flourish.

 

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Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion

World Premiere!
June 8 – July 2, 2017

Music & lyrics by: Gwendolyn Sanford & Brandon Jay
Book by: Robin Schiff
Directed by: Kristin Hanggi
Choreographed by: Kelly Devine

Two of the quirkiest and most endearing best friends in pop culture will make their musical theater debut at The 5th Avenue Theatre this season. Join us at the world premiere of the totally awesome new musical, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, based on the 1997 cult hit film. Romy and Michele are two inseparable best friends whose relationship is put to the test when they invent fake careers to impress people at their 10-year high school reunion.

Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion features a creative team including Rock of Ages’ Kristin Hanggi and Kelly Devine, as well as a book by the film’s screenwriter, Robin Schiff. With an all new ‘80s and ‘90s pop-rock-inspired score, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion is totally, like, the coolest thing since the invention of Post-its®.

 

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Fun Home

2015 Tony Award® Winner
July 11 – 30, 2017

Music by: Jeanine Tesori
Book & lyrics by: Lisa Kron
Based on the graphic novel by: Alison Bechdel
Directed by: Sam Gold

Every once in a while a Broadway musical comes along that surprises, moves and excites audiences in ways only a truly landmark musical can. The “groundbreaking,” “life-affirming” and “exquisite” new musical Fun Home was the event of the Broadway season, receiving raves from critics and audiences alike, winning five 2015 Tony Awards including BEST MUSICAL and making history along the way. Based on Alison Bechdel’s best-selling graphic memoir, Fun Home introduces us to Alison at three different ages as she explores and unravels the many mysteries of her childhood. A refreshingly honest musical about seeing your parents through grown-up eyes, “Fun Home is extraordinary, a rare beauty that pumps fresh air into Broadway.” (New York Times).

You can get seven shows for the price of 6, and FREE parking, if you subscribe to our full season! We also have special subscription prices for those under 35. For more information, and to subscribe to our 2016/17 Season, click here.

Meet The Assassins: The Proprietor

Meet the Actor: Nick DeSantis

Nick DeSantis joins the cast as The Proprietor in his ACT debut  He has been seen onstage in Seattle at The 5th Avenue Theatre, The Village Theatre and ArtsWest.  His favorite roles include Sunday in the Park… (Franz), ELF (Mr. Greenway), Les Misérables (Thenardier), No Way to Treat A Lady (Kit Gill), Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (Lumière) and I Am My Own Wife.

Meet the Assassins: The Proprietor

The Proprietor is one of the handful of non-historical figures in Assassins. A gun salesman who provides the characters with their weapons at the beginning of the show, the Proprietor plays on the ambitions, motivations and ramblings of the would-be assassins by acting as the pioneer  of all assassins, enticing them to enter a tawdry carnival. He invites them to play a game, promising that their problems will be solved by killing a president.

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

Photo by Mark Kitaoka of MARK & TRACY PHOTOGRAPHY

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.