Stephen Sondheim is one of the greatest composers of musical theatre (West Side Story, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods), yet his work is rarely performed in New Zealand.
However, Theatre Hawke's Bay's production of Assassins, on from June 24 to July 10, is an exciting opportunity for Hawke's Bay audiences to experience Sondheim's work.
The complex and innovative musical Assassins, uses a revue-like structure to explore the lives and times of nine colourfully disturbed individuals through a fusing of song, theatrics and historical events. Each character in the show attempted to kill a US president and about half succeeded.
Assassins doesn't ask how these catastrophic events occurred, but why – delving into the dark side of the American Dream and its exaggerating ideals of entitlement.
This is director Anthony Collier's first show at Theatre Hawke's Bay and he describes Assassins as "an incredibly challenging production that is very demanding of its cast - wonderfully this company is stunning."
Collier has brought together 20 of Hawke's Bay best performers including well-known faces (Michael Sharp, Sam Draper, Sean Boston, Kelly Reid, John Graham, Simeon Ria, Lisa Eagle and Peter Berry) and exciting new ones (Daric Moore, Katrina Godderz, Antonio Della Barca, Hunter Thorne and Molly Nillson).
"The production itself has a wide appeal, with the combination of dark humour and captivating drama mixed in. We've managed to stage this production in a way that has modernised it from its original state when it debuted 30 years ago - but without losing its core charm and innate message. It's remarkable - and in some ways quite disturbing."
Collier and Theatre Hawke's Bay have been working on bringing Assassins to life for more than two years ( during the Trump era and pre-Covid) – so with a two-storey moving set and sensational vocal powerhouse cast, this production is ready to take aim at Hawke's Bay audiences.
Director: Anthony Collier. Musical director: Linda Gilchrist
Cast: Michael Sharp, Sam Draper, Sean Boston, Kelly Reid, John Graham, Simeon Ria, Lisa Eagle, Peter Berry, Daric Moore, Katrina Godderz, Antonio Della Barca, Hunter Thorne and Molly Nillson, Jack Garvey, Bridie Thomson, Carol Williams, Hayley Munro, Drew Broadley, Olga McClunie
Performance dates: Thursday 24 June – Saturday 10 July
Times: Thursday – Saturday 7.30pm, Saturday, July 4, 2.00pm
Phone: (0508 iticket)
In person: Hastings i-Site, cnr Russell and Heretaunga Sts, Hastings; Havelock North i-Site,1 Te Aute Rd, Havelock North