Arts & Entertainment

'Assassins' cast took to shooting range for show

The cast of Columbia Basin College's production of Assassins spent time on a shooting range to get into the groove of shooting a weapon.

"Most of the cast had never fired a gun before," said director Ginny Quinley. "This experience not only showed them how to properly, and respectfully, handle a weapon, but also gave us all great respect for the power of a gun and the damage it could do."

Assassins, a musical, is the first of CBC's Summer Showcase productions, which opens July 11 on the Pasco campus.

Wondering how assassins and music written by Stephen Sondheim might fit together?

"I wasn't too familiar with this musical at first, but it's become my favorite Sondheim music," said Korry Watkins, who plays the lead role of John Wilkes Booth.

Assassins is about nine historic assassins who come together in an attempt to convince Lee Harvey Oswald to do his dirty deed that brought down a president.

"This truly is an amazing piece of work with a mixture of Americana music, ragtime, Dixieland and barbershop," Watkins said. "The story is a loose history of some of this country's most notorious assassins."

Those assassins include Booth, Oswald, Sara Jane Moore and Squeaky Fromm. Moore and Fromm, followers of mass murderer Charles Manson, were involved in the attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford.

As the cast learned to handle guns for the production, there was a sense of surrealism when actually shooting them that made the experience a bit freaky, Watkins said.

"I was very nervous," he said. "I'm not a big fan of guns, but I learned that there is a great sense of power about them that you need to learn to respect. And it makes you wonder why anyone would want to kill another person."

The noise factor when shooting the guns (blank bullets are used with real guns) during this production might have the audience's ears ringing, Quinley said.

"Talk about loud, the first night we used blanks at rehearsal," she said. "This show will certainly keep the audience awake."

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;