Saturday, May 7, 2011

JDIZZY's 365 # 363: The Ballad Of Booth

The Ballad Of Booth - The cast of Assassins (1990)

Broadway musicals don't get any more powerful, disturbing or brilliant then Stephen Sondheim's Assassins. This long black journey into the minds of people who have successfully or unsuccessfully tried to kill a United States President is certainly not "Oklahoma"-esque in its story or scope.First of all, the assassins themselves are set up like they are playing a shooting game at a carnival. You will feel revolted, amused, sympathetic, and moved to tears at different points of the production, which can be jarring given the historical monsters presented on stage. An original cast album by design is often just a souvenir of a show, but the Off-Broadway (and Broadway revival of 2004) Assassins albums are some of the best of their kind. Sondheim's style of jamming every word possible into the singer's libretto while still maintaining resonant melody and structure is on superb display here. Both casts handle the material in breathtaking style. If I had to pick one track to best describe the experience, it would have to be the story of the man who started it all, John Wilkes Booth. Sung by the Balladeer character and Booth himself, the audience is given the questions of a nation and the answers of a murderer. For my non-musical theatre nerd readers, I truly believe this will blow your mind. Having never seen the show myself, I know that this song did for me as well.

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