Theatre in the Park is traveling back in time to produce “Assassins,” a musical about nine individuals who have either assassinated a U.S. president or attempted to do so, through March 11.
The nonlinear timeline of these individuals and the planning and processes surrounding their assassination attempts gives the audience an uncommon look into the minds of these unlikely characters.
“We see each of them featured, we hear their reasons for doing it and we see them in conversations with other assassins from different times, ultimately driving home the idea that everybody has the right to the pursuit of happiness, but everybody doesn’t have the right to be happy,” said the musical’s director, David Henderson.
Henderson, who has been working with Theatre in the Park for 25 years, describes himself as having “had a long affair for a long time” with the musical. He first performed it in 1993 after being a founding member of Pauper Players while studying at UNC.
“What the show manages to do is it manages to, to a certain degree, humanize these people that feel abandoned by the process — abandoned by America in a way — and they feel that the only way they can connect or be known for anything is to do this big act,” Henderson said. “Now, especially in light of the Parkland shooting a week ago, we’re at a time where people may be afraid or nervous about seeing this kind of thing on stage. But what the theater’s able to do is to create a conversation and a dialogue around these issues — whether it be mental health, whether it be access to guns — and that’s what we should do, is create that reaction and have a dialogue around it.”