This was my first time seeing the show, but I was far from unfamiliar with the material…I’d been listening to the soundtrack for at least 8 years if not longer and absolutely love the show. This production was a well put-together performance that was wonderful to watch. The director decided to put the assassins in a hotel lobby/bar reminiscent of the Hollywood Hotel (of Twilight Zone fame), which makes the fairway references in the opening number a little vague, but none-the-less works really well as the entire cast is onstage all the time, watching the different vignettes occurring with various reactions. My favorite character before seeing the show was Guiteau (whom I now love twice as much thanks to the actor’s fantastic performance), but now my allegiance is divided between him and Sam Bicke, who is dressed in a Santa suit and has two fantastic 5-min monologues where he records tapes for famous people complaining or complimenting on their work. Of course, watching this, I couldn’t help thinking about the Sean Penn movie about Sam Bicke which has to be straight dramatics, because Sean Penn would not degrade himself enough to be in a Santa suit for an hour and a half and be insane…he’d have to make it be all weepy and dramatic and crap and that just doesn’t interest me.
But anyways, back to the cool stuff. Because I don’t want to be a bitch and spoil what I thought was an awesome twist, I’ll put it in spoiler tags.
Spoiler Alert! (place and hold your mouse over the bar to see)
The first person to come on-stage and sign the guest book of the hotel gets drafted to be the Balladeer, the primary narrator, but is later revealed to be Lee Harvey Oswald, which I thought was a fantastic twist.
Ok, now that I’ve got that awesomeness off my chest, there’s the tiny issue of John Wilkes Booth. The actor playing him looked very much the part, but he was huge! Also, he took the final scene with Lee Harvey Oswald rather slowly. Post mortem, the joke is that he was downloading his lines over a modem connection and everybody else was on DSL. Beyond that, he was trying very hard to act well, and while doing a very nice job, was just a little over the top for me. God what I would have given to see Victor Garber do this.
Also can’t talk about the production without crying about the orchestration. Don’t get me wrong they did a fantastic job for what they had…but it was synthesizer and drums! How I Saved Roosevelt was incredibly lacking (it’s a huge John Phillip Sousa march with horns and everything). I was practically depressed! Just kidding…but not too much.