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March 29, 2007 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-03-29

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2B - Thursday, March 29, 2007

{page 2

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com I

Pondering'Assassins' and the man behind it

By CATHERINE SMYKA
Daily Arts Writer
It's impossible to walk out of the theater
after seeing a Stephen Sondheim play and
not talk about what just happened. And
that's not JUST because he can write spec-
tacular Broadway musicals. Sondheim can
fit more political and philosophical state-
ments in a tOO-minute show than some
presidents can in an entire term. In this
past weekend's performance of student-
group MUSKET's "Assassins," a musical
about nine assassination attempts on U.S.
presidents, the audience couldn't leave the
Power Center without bursting for discus-
sion.
Sondheim gives his audience an uncom-
fortable perspective in "Assassins" from the
very beginning when the show's narrator
comes out of the audience and runs onstage
to tell the musical's story of nine crazed
individuals. Citing Arthur Miller's "Death
of a Salesman," Sondheim tells his audience
that "attention must be paid." He wants
people to think about the sequence of events
that alters lives indefinitely. He doesn't want
the audience to exit the production fearing
violence, assassination or human nature,
but rather to question society's influence on
individuals' extreme actions.
Even when sitting with some of the cast
members in Jimmy John's after opening
night, no one could agree on what exactly
ENTERTAINMENT BRIEFS

his musical is trying to say. Which is pre-
cisely why "Assassins" will live a long and
prosperous life - is Sondheim telling the
American people it's their fault for what
happened to these nine assassins? Is he
warning us that any one of us could be the
next character in his musical? Or is he mak-
ing a statement about human passion?
MUSKET director Stephen Sposito
extended Sondheim's multi-faceted mes-
sage one step beyond the script for the
show's closing moment. Sposito literally
puts the future of assassination into the
hands of one small, freckled fifth-grade
boy, brought onstage and welcomed by John
Wilkes Booth and Charles Guiteau with
open arms. He joins the center stage line of
assassins as they shoot the American flagto
Stephen Sondheim
and his campus
incarnation.
the ground.
We wiggle in our seats and try to laugh
it off, but the truth is Sondheim addresses
what people don't want to admit. The audi-
ence gasps when the young boy enters
with a gun, and they laugh uncomfortably

as he takes his cherished
position in future history
books. Similarly, the audi-
ence can't handle it when
mother Sara Jane Moore
points a gun at the same
child. Sondheim creates an
enjoyable environment that
the politically correctworld
refuses to embrace, a world
where mothers point guns
at their children and people
laugh at others' deaths.
We've created a "them"
and an "us" in history that
separates the good from
the bad and the right from
the wrong. But sitting in
the audience of "Assassins"
you watch an average audi-
ence member emerge from
the house seats as a main
character. These individuals are us. They
have the same human instincts and the
same passion - but channeled in a devas-
tating way. After the initial shock of John
Wilkes Booth's suicide in scene two, you
aren't going anywhere. The show is worth
more than the $7 ticket in your hand; you're
there and you're part of it.
As much as we don't want to admit to
the fact that we might have had an influ-
ence on Lee Harvey Oswald and Squeaky
Fromme, we still think about it. Sondheim's

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courtesyof Steven sondheim
work is enjoyable through such fanciful lyr-
ics as "But God was acquitted and Charlie
committed." But his underlying themes are
dark and twisted - yet we clap and cheer
for more. As a society, what could we have
done to prevent the awful assassinations of
the past? Was it our fault in the first place?
Sondheim doesn't have the answer, but we
think about it nonetheless.
Sondheim's work, the cast of MUSKET's
show and the conversation in the Power
Center lobby afterward - brilliant.
Attention has been paid.

UPDATE
The Anna Nicole Smith mys-
tery has been solved - or at least
the Florida police think so. Mon-
day morning's release of autopsy
results indicated that Smith died
of an accidental overdose of pre-
scription medication, metha-
done, valium, sleeping pills and
anti-depression medicines among
them. Despite Smith's reported
fever on the day of her death,
the medical examiner found "no
evidence of disease"; it has been
noted, however, that Smith opted
not to seek medical attention for
the sake of privacy when her flu-
like symptoms worsened shortly
before her death.
CONTROVERSY
The independent film "Wrist-
cutters: A Love Story" is making
waves on the hipster-movie scene,
but one suicide prevention group
fails to see realistic or honest mes-
sages embedded in the film's dark
humor. The group contesting the
film's billboard ads - depicting

suicide attempts - argues that
suicide and mental illness deserve
to be treated as.serious subjects.
Producer Courtney Solomon
refuses to pull the ads.
CONFIRMED
Despite confusion surrounding
Emma Watson's commitment to
all seven "Harry Potter" films as
Harry's right-hand girl Hermione
Granger, Warner Bros. confirmed
Watson will remain a vital part of
the cast for the entire series. The
fifth movie, "Harry Potter and the
Order of the Phoenix," is set for
release on July 13.
DEFLOWERED
If you thought Paris Hilton
was a virgin - you idiot! - think
again. Randy Spelling, Tori
Spelling's less-than-attractive
(apparently not asexual) brother,
was recently quoted saying he was
Hilton's first when she was 15. The
short-lived relationship reported-
ly lasted about a week afterward,
when Hilton called it quits.

PUNK'D
Finally, Ashton Kutcher's
legacy as the creator and host of
MTV's "Punk'd" will come to an
end after the fifth and last season
of the hit celebrity-prank show,
scheduled to begin on April 10.
New feature stars will include
Hilary Swank, Nelly Furtado
and country singer Jewel - we
can only imagine what Kutcher
has in store for them.
RALLY
Hillary Clinton will appear on
Comedy Central's vitriolic car-
toon series "South Park" as the
centerpiece of a political rally, but
response to the show will likely
take time to trickle in. After a
controversial depiction of Tom
Cruise's adherence to Scientol-
ogy last year, Isaac Hayes - the
sex-funk-baritone voice of Chef
- quit the show for going over-
board. And for "South Park," that
says a lot.
Courtesy of
CA ROLINE HAR TMANN Emma Waston was recently-confirmed for all seven "Harry Potter" films.

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AiN 4j N17
Soc 389 & SOC 325
SOC 389 is a service-learning course with topics in Education, Criminal Justice, Public
Health, Gender and Sexuality, and Organizing for Social Justice. Select a section within
one of these topic areas using the descriptions in the LSA Course Guide
(www.Isa.umich.edu cg).

NOW IN THEATERS
The Lives of Others
At the State Theater
In pre-unification East Berlin,
Gerd Wieslerbegins an investiga-
tion of a German couple suspected
of espionage. As theybegins smug-
gling anti-party literature out
to West Germany's sympathetic
press, the East Berlin government
increases surveillance over the
seemingly average couple.
Premonition
At Quality 16 and Showcase
Linda is a bored housewife,
minding after two boringly cute
daughters and a boringly attrac-
tive husband. Day after day, she
awakes to find herself in abizarre
series of events, leading her, in
non-sequential order, to find that
her husband has died.
Teenage Mutant
Ninja Turtles
At Quality 16 and Showcase

ated between them, they're also
battling to save the world from
monster or immortal-stone-statue
induced destruction. Unfortunate-
ly, "TMNT" epitomizes how the
development of our childhood car-
toons has left them less than what
they used to be.
300
At the State Theater, Qual-
ity 16 and Showcase
****OR *****
According to our dueling crit-
ics, "300" is either an "exuberantly
stupid spectacle (that) purports to
get the audience off, butthere's no
fire here, no heat, and in the end
the whole thing turns into a frigid
parade of limbs and egos mutilated
beyond repair," or it "speaks to
themes of loyalty, honor and duty,
but no one bought a ticket to see
'themes,' they came to see abattle.
And the fighting itself is sobeauti-
ful and well-orchestrated it carries
the movie."

a
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SOC 325 is for selected student facilitators. For an application,
visit the Project Community website: www.umich.edu/ mserve/pc

Edward Ginsberg Center for
Community Service and Learning
Division of Student Affairs
1024 Hill Street
pcinfo@umich.edu
www.umich.edu/~mserve/pc

A

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