“Assassins” originally premiered in 1990 as a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by John Weidman, based on an idea by Charles Gilbert Jr. The performance brought some of America’s most notorious killers to the stage in a dark, comedic and spine-tingling show.

A killer performance of “Assassins” was put on by the Mask and Dagger Dramatic Society UNH’s only student-run theatre organization, this past weekend at the Hennessy Theatre in the Paul Creative Arts Center (PCAC). The performances ran from Feb. 16-19.

“‘Assassins’ speaks to everyone, it has an uncanny ability to reach into our souls and pull out compassion for those who have done wrong, as well give us a deep understanding that what they have done is in fact wrong,” director of the show Amanda Giglio said.

The performers entranced the audience with dance, song and superb acting. Bringing life to some of America’s historical killers, the show encompassed possible scenes of the moments leading up to America’s most infamous assassinations.

In one of the most memorable scenes, John Wilkes Booth, played by Taylor Morrow, is on the run from assassinating President Lincoln. As he limps on stage, Booth addresses his love for the Confederate States of America and his reasoning for killing Lincoln in a dramatic and emotional performance. Morrow’s performance stole the show with his aggressive and enthralling rendition of Booth.

Branwyn Ritchie played Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, the lover of deadly cult leader Charles Manson. Her satirical performance was received with shocked silences and relieving laughter. Fromme teamed up with quirky Sara Jane Moore, as played by Rachel Noland in the show, to plan and attempt the assassination of President Gerald Ford. Both Fromme and Noland were crowd favorites, pleasing onlookers with a roller coaster of emotions. 

Matthew Doherty’s emotional rawness as Samuel Byck was entrancing. His screams of frustration, his maniacal laughter and the sobering declarations of his qualms towards President Ronald Nixon were bone chilling.

Other notable performances included: Will Lombard, playing Charles Guiteau, the assassin of President James Garfield; Sean Vigeant as Giuseppe Zangara, who attempted to assassinate President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt; Colin Prato who played Leon Czolgosz, a disgruntled immigrant worker who assassinated William McKinley; Samuel Empey as John Hinckley, who attempted to kill President Ronald Reagan; Matthew Soucy playing a double role, the show’s balladeer, narrating the story, and infamous Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of John F. Kennedy. And of course, the Proprietor, played by Alec Paulson.

The show was an entertaining success. With top-notch acting, it was hard to not be moved by Mask and Dagger’s performance.

“Assassins” hit its mark with the precision of a sharpshooter, leaving its impression upon the audience deeper than a bullet. This dramatic society incorporates a cast and crew of truly talented individuals who show passion and dedication to their craft. This show is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys theatrical talent. Stay tuned for future performances from the Mask and Dagger Dramatic Society—you will be entertained.

Executive Editor