Villanova Student Musical Theatre Performs “Assassins”


Courtesy of Ellie Smart

“Assassins” opened at the Smith Performance Lab on Feb. 10.

Skylar Musick, Staff Writer

Last semester, Villanova Student Musical Theatre (VSMT) blew the Villanova community away with its performance of “Legally Blonde.” This past weekend, the cast and crew did nothing short of the same in their performance of “Assassins.”

The show had its opening weekend in the Smith Performance Lab, Feb. 10-13, and shows and ticket sales will run through Feb. 20. 

“Assassins” is a musical based on a book by John Weidman. The show’s music and lyrics were written by Stephen Sondheim. Many may have heard of Sondheim as he also wrote the music for “West Side Story” and is one of the most celebrated composers of all time.

Satirical in nature, “Assassins” is about the real historical U.S. figures who attempted, both successfully and unsuccessfully, to assassinate sitting United States Presidents. 

The cast is made up of VSMT students, who have been dedicating their time to the show in many hours of rehearsals.

Senior Jack Serio, who plays Leon Czolgosz, talked about the rehearsal process.

“We run through all the scenes, but the main purpose of rehearsals is to build connections and relationships with the other actors,” Serio said. “You can’t put on a good show if you don’t build that level of trust with the people you’re performing with.”

The student actors dedicate most of their time to learning their characters. Aidan Fecko is a junior who plays The Balladeer (a singing narrator) and Lee Harvey Oswald in the musical. He is also the current Production Manager for VSMT. He shared his experience about diving deeper into the heart of his characters.

“My favorite memory from rehearsals for ‘Assassins’ would probably be the first rehearsal,” Fecko shared. “We sat for three hours and researched our characters. This show has been such an exciting challenge because instead of creating a character out of thin air, we had to really think about how to portray a character who actually lived and created a notorious name for themselves.”

Sophomore Frankie Frabizzio, who plays John Wilkes Booth, shared his favorite scene to perform in the show. 

“There is a long dialogue-only scene at the end of the show between my character and Aidan Fecko’s character, Lee Harvey Oswald, as Booth attempts to convince Oswald to kill John F. Kennedy,” Frabizzio said. “It’s an incredibly intense but also very intimate scene, and getting to perform it alongside Aidan every night is consistently my favorite thing about being in this show. I love seeing how the energy changes every time we do it together.”

The cast and crew have become deeply connected to “Assassins” and the subjects it highlights. 

“I’ve absolutely fallen in love with this show,” Frabizzio said. “It’s a brilliant, profound work of theatre with such an important message.”

The co-directors of the show, junior Olivia Pistella and senior Samantha Aitken, did an outstanding job directing the cast and working to make opening night a success. 

“Opening night was absolutely perfect,” Pistella said. “Sam and I work with the absolute best group of actors, designers and friends.” 

“We got such great feedback from our audience, and Olivia and I are so proud of our cast and crew for starting our run with a bang,” Aitken added.

After their second show on Friday night, audience members raved about the show and its actors. 

“‘Assassins’ was nothing short of spectacular,” audience member Grayson Pruett shared. “The cast and crew brought the audience into a skewed world with an intoxicating performance.”

Tickets are still available to watch these amazing performers on Thursday, Feb. 17 through Saturday, Feb. 19 at 8:30 p.m. and on Sunday, Feb. 20 at 2:30 p.m. All shows are ACS approved and will be held in the Smith Performance Lab of the John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts.