|Barbara A. Bruno plays Sara Jane Moore (below in 1975 after Moore's attempted assassination of President Ford)|
The American Dream is an essential theme of Assassins, a dark Stephen Sondheim musical that explores the minds and motives of nine US Presidential assassins. With songs like Everyone’s Got the Right (to be Happy) and Another National Anthem, Sondheim shows how people who have been marginalized by American society still try to justify their own actions in the name of the “pursuit of happiness.” While not condoning the assassins’ actions, Sondheim demonstrates that when their dreams are not fulfilled, the assassins feel justified in making someone pay – in this case, a President.
In the Farmington Players production of Assassins, Barbara Bruno makes her Barn debut as Sara Jane Moore, who fired a shot at President Gerald Ford in 1975. While this is not your typical “feel good” musical, according to Barbara, she finds that Sondheim’s work “tends to be a little unsettling to audiences, but in a way that is thought provoking. When I read the script for the first time, I had a lot of, ‘Gee, I never knew that’ moments, which can be a gratifying experience.” Barbara describes Moore as having a “really frenetic background, with a number of careers and husbands in her time. She's this odd mix of soccer mom and psychopath. The challenge of this role is to not only make her sympathetic so that the audience can relate to her, but to balance this calm exterior of who she really was with this hectic and flighty scripted interpretation of her.”
Barbara can definitely relate to the play’s message that the American Dream has left many people behind, as she explains: “Not unlike many people in the theater, I was a total outsider well into college. There's a rage that comes from not feeling accepted and feeling marginalized. I grew up in a fairly well off community, but we never had a lot of money. I felt the differences in class deeply. The hardest part is feeling not only like you're excluded and will never have what you perceive everyone else has, but also feeling like you don't matter, and I know that I had my ways of acting out on that.” In relating this to the characters in Assassins, she says, “What's tragic about these people is that they lacked the power to feel like they belonged and that they mattered. I think, as a rule, people tend to get in trouble when they look to external signals for acceptance, which is, unfortunately, the most common manifestation of the American Dream.”
Originally from Long Island, Barbara lived in Chicago for 20 years, often working on the production side in the Chicago theater community. She moved to Michigan about three years ago and has been active backstage at the Barn and appeared in the Barn’s AACT Festival entry as Lita Encore in Ruthless.
The Farmington Players' production of Assassins is proudly sponsored by the Center for Financial Planning, Inc. The show runs from February 14 – March 1. Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.