31 May 2006


Did I say I was losing my faith in theater?

It's back.

Sunday we went to see Stephen Sondheim's one-act musical, Assassins, at the Storefront Theater (produced by Open Eye). The Storefront Theater is run by the city's Department of Cultural Affairs and showcases the work of (smallcase) storefront theater companies from throughout Chicago in a downtown space, to attract audiences who might not otherwise expose themselves to smaller-scale theater.

Although I'm a Sondheim fan, I wasn't sure what to expect from this production. My theater expectations have sunk so low lately, I've started to count it as a victory if I don't look at my watch much.

I'm pretty sure that I didn't look at my watch at all during Assassins. It was enthralling. An ensemble of fine singer-performers (voice strength varied, but all were at least adequate) collaborated in a rather surreal retelling of American history from the vantage point of its presidential assassins. The music was wonderful, and the lyrics clever and darkly funny (just what you expect from Sondheim); the performances were full of conviction as well as humor.

We had front-row seats, which was a little disconcerting, since the characters point their (prop) guns into the audience on several occasions. Lots of gunshot noise in this show. If you go (which you should), keep that in mind.

Assassins continues at the Storefront Theater, 66 E Randolph, through 18 June.

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