, Joe Calarco, Writer/Director, SSDC

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Side Show
book by John Weidman, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim


Signature Theatre Company, Arlington, VA



Photos from Assassins

photography: Carol Pratt

Cast: Ethan Ableman, Bradley Bowers, Doug Bowles, Andy Brownstein, Matt Conner, Priscilla Cuellar, Erin Driscoll, Mika Duncan, Daniel Felton, Kathryn Fuller, Will Gartshore, Peter Joshua, Donna Migliaccio, Diego Prieto, Tally Sessions, Stephen Gregory Smith, Steve Tipton

 click thumbnail for full-sized photo

Tally Matt
Donna Erin


"So how do I convey the pow! factor in Signature Theatre's startling new staging of Assassins without spoiling it for you? I'll try to be as cagey as Joe Calarco, who's found an absorbingly original way to bring out the harsh, satirical colors in this controversial musical. Calarco's approach is boldly, stylishly theatrical, a match for the nerviness of the show itself. His achievement is allowing us to develop an intimate bond -- and perhaps even better understand our shared cultural conditioning -- with the lunatics, misfits and malcontents who shoot their way into American political history. The cumulative effect of this Assassins is exhilarating."
Peter Marks, The Washington Post

"Streamlined, savvy, and spectacularly effective, Signature Theatre’s Assassins looks through a glass darkly at the United States and the monsters she sometimes creates—and what director Joe Calarco shows audiences in his funhouse mirror is themselves. And while too much detail would ruin the shiver and the shock of the image Calarco has conjured for the top of the show, let’s just say when that skewed American flag of a curtain gets whisked away, Signature’s staging confronts spectators with a disturbing, disorienting visual metaphor for the notion that the next Booth or Oswald or Hinckley might be sitting in a seat down front."
Trey Graham, Washington City Paper

"Joe Calarco asks us, if not to embrace these anti-heroes of U.S. history, to at least consider that the assassins are part of society. This brash, confrontational production reflects some of America's most painfully violent moments back at the audience, much the way we see our faces reflected among the dead on the Wall at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The result is almost uncomfortably intimate, as Signature's production blurs the lines between audience and actor, assassin and citizen."
Jayne Blanchard, Washington Times

"Disarming. Disorienting. Immediately shatters the line between 'us' and 'them.' Calarco's high concept production is an experiment in artistic confidence. With Calarco's renovated version of Assassins, you get more bang for your buck."
Metro Weekly

"Once again, Signature Theatre in Arlington, Va., has reimagined an existing work of musical theater in a way that casts a new and unexpected light on the work."
Talkin' Broadway

"Calarco’s take is fresh and intriguing. He draws some great performances from that cast and the staging concept matches the script for uniqueness, turning the audience into a mirror of an alternate reality."
Potomac Stages


Shakespeare's R&J     Sarah, Plain & Tall    Boy    My Fair Lady    Elegies     in the absence of spring     Of Mice and Men     Side Show
The Last Five Years     A Midsummer Night's Dream     Nijinsky's Last Dance
   The Summer of the Swans   Urinetown   The Mistress Cycle
Twice Charmed    Assassins    The Burnt Part Boys

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