Killer musical

BRENDON HANSON was wonderfully repellent as special prosecutor Kenneth Starr in Clinton the Musical in 2016.

And the WAAPA graduate is just as memorable in his latest role, John Wilkes Booth, in the musical Assassins.

The show won a Tony Award and ponders what motivated people down the ages to try and assassinate American presidents.

Hanson was at WAAPA when he first saw Assassins in 1991 and it left a big impression.

“It’s great to have the opportunity to play in it …they are fascinating characters, complex human beings,” he says.

Presidents Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley and John F Kennedy went down in a blaze of  gunfire, while Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford (two attempts a couple of weeks apart) and Ronald Regan were near misses.

Written by John Weidman and with music by Stephen Sondheim, Assassins opens with the ditty Everybody’s Got the Right – the right to commit murder, to grab the headlines and to get five minutes of fame.

• Mackenzie Dunn as Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, with former US presidents, in Assassins. Photo by Cameron Etchells


“Most of these assassins are disappointed, disenfranchised and angry that life hasn’t provided them with what they expected,” Assassins’s director Roger Hodgman says

“Which you could say is the same for people who voted for Trump to be honest.

“It says a great deal I think about the malaise of American society in the late 21st century.”

“It’s macabre in one way, but it’s very funny…it’s highly entertaining but at the same time the undertones are quite dark.

Most of the assassins have been all but forgotten, including Charles Guiteau (played by Will O’Mahony), who murdered president James Garfield to promote sales of his book in 1881.

And Samuel Byck, who tried to hijack a plane in 1974 so he could fly it into the White House and kill Nixon.

He shot the pilots before take off, which rather ruined the plan.

Assassins is paired with UK play The Events, starring Catherine McClements (Water Rats, Rush) and directed by Black Swan artistic director Clare Watson.

Loosely based on the 2011 Norway massacre, it looks at community healing in the wake of the tragedy.

The Events will feature a different Perth community choir at each performance.

Both shows are on at the WA State Theatre from June 16 to July 8.

For session times and tickets go to


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