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Producers Praise The Spot as Company Mounts Assassins
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“All you have to do is move your little finger, move your little finger, and you can change the world,” sings Matt Musgrove, who played the part of John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln’s assassin.
   
Thursday, February 1, 2024
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Patrons of The Spot stepped into a carnival-like atmosphere this past week as they attended the theater company’s premiere of “Assassins.”

Michael and Carol Wade hawked champagne against a circus backdrop and candied apples, popcorn and other circus-like treats beckoned from a table featuring stuffed toys like those given away at a county fair.

A way to honor those who had contributed to helping the show take the stage, the pre-show fun dovetailed with the opening of Stephen Sondheim’s and John Weidman’s musical, which kicks off with a carnival-like barker handing out guns to nine assassins and would-be assassins so they can take a pop at the U.S. president of their choice.

 
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Lenny Cohen, Eileen Fastow, Linda Cohen and Susan Passovoy were among those who attended Producer’s Night.
 

“Hey pal, feelin’ blue? Don’t know what to do? C’mere and kill a president,” sings the carnival barker as he points to a lack of jobs and bare cupboards.

The Spot now has nine seasons of what it calls “Fearless Theater” under its belt. And this musical certainly fit the bill as it took aim at the dark side of American politics coupled with expectations that  everyone has the right to the American dream.

The 10-show run had barely gotten underway before it sold out.

“They just work so hard. They’re just an amazing group of kids,” said Carol Wade, whose son Kevin was among the founders. “They’ll celebrate their 10th anniversary this summer, which says a lot. They’ve even gone through the pandemic, but they hung on by their fingernails.”

 
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The cast included Ward Loving, David Janeski, Othello Pratt Jr. Aly Wepplo, Vanessa Sterling, Annabelle Lewis and (not pictured) Justin Packard, Matt Musgrove, Matt Gorby and Brett Moellenberg.
 

Carter Hedberg said he saw the Spot’s very first play, “Next to Normal,” which explored the effect of bipolar disorder on a family, and he fell in love with the young troupe.

“I support the library, I support the church and I support the Spot,” he said. “They’ve had so many wonderful shows, such as ‘Cabaret.’ Now, to do a Sondheim musical like ‘Assassins’ in this little space is fabulous.”

“Assassins,” with its clever lyrics and dialog, required split-second timing and talented singing and acting. But the actors were up to it.

“Why did you do it, Johnny?” John Wilkes Booth is asked. “You who had everything, what made you bring a nation to its knees?

 
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Wayne Schmidt, Kiki Martin, Diane Mohn Carter Hedberg praised The Spot’s actors. “They’re amazing. They produce important works, and they’re a super talented company,” said Martin.
 

“Some say you killed a country, John, because of bad reviews,” the song continued.

The musical is 30 years old, but it seems timely given that so many people keep looking over their shoulders wondering who might pull the trigger in today’s polarized nation.

“And it didn’t mean a nickel, you just shed a little blood…” scolds the balladeer.

“I love what they’re doing. It’s really good, important theater for our valley,” said Alison Higdon, who with Peter Boice dressed up in their own circus-like garb for the occasion. “And I love that they offer a safe space for the kids who take part in Spot Young Company.”

 
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Susan Flynt and Peter Boice enjoy the circus-like atmosphere that proceeded Producer’s Night.
 

Susan Passovoy said that she saw the musical in Walnut Creek, Calif.

“And it was so amateurish. This is so well done, so professional. And it’s so important for today’s time when we have to do with such questions as: Why kill a president when you can kill a democracy? It’s disturbing but well done.”

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