When we go to the theatre, we go to be transported to other places. We go to have actors hold our hands and bring us into their story so that we can have vicarious experiences with adventure, love, sadness, hope and truth. There are also many other personal reasons, but those two hours away from real life and its challenges - we hope to be taken away.


By Trish Morgan
For the News Tribune
When we go to the theatre, we go to be transported to other places. We go to have actors hold our hands and bring us into their story so that we can have vicarious experiences with adventure, love, sadness, hope and truth. There are also many other personal reasons, but those two hours away from real life and its challenges - we hope to be taken away.
Anytime you come to a production at Cumberland Theatre, you know you will feel the magic of the stage. You know some of your favorite actors will be there. You know when you take your seat and the lights come down, in no time your own life fades away - and the cast that has been specially chosen will move you to tears, and rip at your heart and send you away with an experience like no other.
This cast did just that. Each and every actor performed at the top of their game. I live for that, don't you?
First of all, write this down, or better yet, come this weekend. Find 'New to CT' Scott O'Brien, shake his hand and get his autograph. This actor is phenomenal, outstanding, well-trained, and the best I have seen in years!
My eyes were focused on him on that stage...his voice and his projection of a haunted soul...the way he could draw the audience in and put us under his spell. Scott transformed himself into John Wilkes Booth, and brought the agony, the disturbed, the crazy mentality for his choice to kill President Lincoln.
His performance was haunting, enthralling, hypnotizing...and I just knew he was something special. I have to admit that I knew nothing of his background until I got home, and then his bio reinforced exactly what I thought as soon as he took that stage.
For you see, I intentionally did not read the actors' bios on Cumberland Theatre's Facebook page. I wanted to experience the show without knowing who all of these new faces were before reviewing. No wonder Scott was so wonderful in this production! Read this - O’Brien is currently living in New York City. He is a lead vocalist for Opera New York, performing multiple times at Carnegie Hall as well as continuous shows at the Triad Theatre.  
Scott - please come back to Cumberland. We just HAVE to hear you sing again, plus I was tremendously moved by your talent. Shhhhhh, don't tell anyone that the beauty of your voice made my eyes leak a little. It's our secret, Scott.
Reading all of the other bios, one can see the wealth and range of education and experience - whether it's on Broadway, the opera, production runs, directing, choreographing and every aspect of the theatre. The depth of expertise at their crafts just blew me away. Each actor is extraordinary.
At first, when I heard that Nicole Halmos was going to be in this show, my level of excitement was over the top. Then, the more I read through the theatre's promotions, I wondered how she would fit into this cast and the musical's synopsis of nine assassins throughout history who killed or tried to kill our presidents.
Why did I wonder? Nicole as Sara Jane Moore, who tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford on Sept. 22, 1975, as he left the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, California - she proved that a serious, gifted actor can add perfectly-timed comic relief. Nicole was fabulous. You must come to see for yourself how she handles a gun, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and her favorite expression throughout the show. Kudos, Nicole!
I suppose that many of us don't understand the working of the minds of those who murder, or assassinate, but this production offers a lot of insight there through storytelling and music. Why are these characters intent to kill? What are their motives? Believe me, you will take away a level of knowledge you never had once you hear these stories.
One such story that moved me, especially since you know which assassination attempt was coming (President Ronald Reagan in 1981). I was thinking ahead to that very shattering day while Matthew Clark was sharing his story in song, and his music sent cold chills down my spine. All because John Hinckley, Jr. wanted to prove his love for a woman. In other words...for no reason. Matthew - you mastered this character. And, your duet with Becca Parsons as Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme and her irrational devotion to Charlie Manson - powerful and gut-wrenching. Both of you. Thanks for making me feel. Thank you.
Then, there's Josh Ruppenkamp who played the role of Balladeer. Man, can you sing, brother! You had such an intense character to play - on stage so much of the time - and yet your sense of storytelling was incredible. You kept the audience right there - interested, connected, informed. In this production, you were so darn good - cast perfectly. Welcome back to Cumberland!
Other members rounding out the cast are Caleb Tracy as Proprietor; Tim Fitzsimons as Charles Guiteau; Sean Noonan as Leon Czolgosz; Matt Kurzyneic as Guiseppe Zangara; Sean Besecker as Sam Byck - each one who brought their characters to life through word and song. Exceptional work, fellas. I hope to see each of you again...please.
Ensemble members are Austin James, Tyyonn Powell, Kimberli Rowley, Kevin Shreve, Ashley Snow and Karl Vogtman - trust me, these actors brought some high energy, lightened up the serious content of the show! Primo actors with some of the best acting chops in this region. And, I loved their costumes, Jennifer Clark. Gorgeous, tailored, vanilla flair. Such a handsome group of well-dressed songsters - loved the enthusiastic harmony of this group. Nothing excels like the heartbeat of a gifted ensemble!
Production staff: Kimberli Rowley, director; Chris McCabe, music director; Jennifer Clark, costume designer; Rhett Wolford, set designer; Xander Mulder, lighting designer; Darrell Rushton, fight director; Austin James, fight captain; Matthew Clark, dance captain.
Running crew members are Sarah Usary, stage manager; Bella McConnell, assistant stage manager; Timira Thompson, props master; Trevor McCabe, light board operator; Chris McCabe, sound board operator.
There are just three chances to see "Assassins The Musical" this weekend - with performances Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m., and final curtain Sunday, 2 p.m. The theatre is located at 101 Johnson Street, Cumberland, MD. To order tickets or make reservations, call 301-759-4990.
Please note that "Assassins The Musical" contains moments of violence, strong language, replica firearms and live gun fire.