Auditions for Assassins and Topdog/Underdog

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Audition Notice

Auditions for Assassins and Topdog/Underdog will be Tuesday-Wednesday, August 30-31, 2016, from 6-8PM

The SUNY Sullivan Theater Program is proud to announce auditions for ASSASSINS and TOPDOG/UNDERDOG by Stephen Sondheim/John Weidman and Suzan-Lori Parks, respectively.

*Both productions will be directed by Jessica López-Barkl, Assistant Professor of Theater and Speech at SUNY Sullivan.


Tuesday-Wednesday, August 30-31, 2016, from 6-8PM. Callbacks will be September 1 from 6-8PM (actors needed for callbacks will be notified by e-mail or phone the night before).


Call for an appointment (505)270-6220, or drop-ins are permitted.


The Seelig Theater
Sullivan County Community College
112 College Road
Loch Sheldrake, NY, 12759

Show Dates

November 10-20, 2016*, Thursday- Saturday at 8pm, Sundays at 2PM.

*The productions will be in repertory. Thus, the first weekend ASSASSINS will play on Thursday and Saturday and TOPDOG/UNDERDOG will play on Friday and Sunday. The second weekend TOPDOG/UNDERDOG will play on Thursday and Saturday and ASSASSINS will play on Friday and Sunday.

If you have any questions, please contact:
Jessica López-Barkl
(505) 270-6220

What to Expect at Auditions

You will be asked to fill out an audition form. Please bring your personal calendar or schedule. You will be required to list any conflicts you may have during the rehearsal period which start September 6, 2016, through the closing of the productions on November 20, 2016. If you have a resume and headshot, please attach to your audition form.

If you are interested in a singing role, please prepare a 1-2 minute song from any Sondheim or concept musical from the 1970s-Present. You will not need a prepared monologue. We will be reading sides from the play. You may asked to read individually, but most likely with others. Scripts are available and can be checked out in advance by contacting Jessica López-Barkl. Actors who can play an instrument are highly encouraged. Please bring the instrument, if you can play, to the audition.

The Theater Program at SUNY Sullivan is also looking for participants interested in technical crew, designers, and musicians. If you are interested, please come by to the auditions to meet the director, Jessica López-Barkl, or contact her with the information above.

Rehearsal Schedule

Rehearsals will be from 6-8PM for ASSASSINS and 8-10PM for TOPDOG/UNDERDOG Tuesdays through Fridays. There will be a rehearsal schedule developed based on the actors’ conflict schedules, you will not be called for all rehearsals. On Mondays from 6:15-8:55PM, there is a lecture class associated with the productions that covers the background on the productions and technical/design aspects of the productions (all participants are not required to come on Mondays, but they are welcome to observe or take it as a class for 3 credits that will transfer to any SUNY 4-year school – the cost for this about $700.00). Technical rehearsals will be held on Saturday, November 5 (for ASSASSINS) from 6-11PM and Sunday, November 6 (for TOPDOG/UNDERDOG). All actors, designers, crew, musicians, and production staff will be called for these technical rehearsals.

During production week (November 7-9, 2016) everyone is called from 6-11PM – Please clear your schedules.

ASSASSINS Synopsis & Musical Numbers

ASSASSINS is Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s descent into the minds of the nine men and women who have attempted to assassinate the President of the United States. The play also tackles the complicated journey that many experience towards the enigma of the American Dream. Just in time for an election year, ASSASSINS promises to use these themes that are just as relevant today as they were when the play was first performed in 1990.

Character Descriptions


The Balladeer – Tenor or Soprano C3-G4. Actor is male or female; ability to play banjo/guitar is a plus. The Balladeer is the conscience of America and the champion of the American Dream. He acts as a foil against the assassins and their warped perspectives and actions.

The Proprietor – Tenor or Soprano Gb2-F4. Actor is male or female. The Proprietor is the Grim Reaper, handing out weapons and overseeing the demise of presidents and assassins alike.

John Wilkes Booth – Baritone F2-G4. Male. A distinguished character who will need a genteel Southern accent. A political zealot, “Wilkes” is the pioneer of American assassination and acts as leader and twisted mentor to the other assassins. “The Ballad of Booth” and his seduction of Lee Harvey Oswald are two of his pivotal scenes.

Leon Czolgosz (pronounced “CHOL-gash”) – Bass Baritone G#2-G4. Male. Actor should be slight of build. Czolgosz was an anarchist who, in killing William McKinley, decided to take matters of government into his own hands for the sake of the common man. Important scenes include “The Gun Song” and the meeting with Emma Goldman.

Guiseppe Zangara – Tenor B2-A4. Male. A short actor is preferred but not required. MUST use a heavy Italian accent for his character. Zangara blamed capitalists and “kings” for his medical conditions and attempted an assassination of Franklin D. Roosevelt – instead killing Mayor Cermak of Chicago. Zangara has a solo on the electric chair in “How I Saved Roosevelt.”

Sara Jane Moore – Soprano F3-Eb5. Actress should appear middle-aged and frumpy. Moore, a former FBI informant five times married, nearly assassinated Gerald Ford in 1975 – the second such attempt on his life in three weeks. Moore provides much of the comic relief in the show and requires an actress with good comic timing.

Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme – Mezzo A3-G5. Actress. Should appear to be in her 20s; slender and pretty. Fromme, a flower child and member of Charlie Manson’s cult “family,” attempted an assassination of Gerald Ford in 1975. She is the lunatic foil to Sara Jane Moore’s airheadedness in several scenes and sings a duet with John Hinckley.

John Hinckley – Baritone A2-G4. Actor should appear to be in his 20s-30s; ability to play guitar would be a plus. Hinckley used a sociopathic obsession with Jodie Foster as his excuse to attempt an assassination of Ronald Reagan in 1981. Hinckley’s clinical insanity and love-sickness add dramatic weight to this character. His pivotal scene is a duet with Squeaky Fromme.

Charles J. Guiteau – Tenor A2-Ab4. Actor should appear to be in his 30s-50s; a beard would be helpful. Guiteau was a multi-careered charlatan with delusions of grandeur who assassinated James Garfield in 1882. The intense libertine requires a multi-personality characterization and a flair for the dramatic. His key scene involves a cakewalk to the gallows.

Samuel Byck – Actor should appear to be in his 30s to 50s; heavy set; blue-collar Philly accent required. Byck was disgruntled at government and all it stood for when he attempted to hijack a plane with the intent of crashing it into the Nixon White House. A small vocal role, it requires an actor capable of presenting two dramatic monologues.

Lee Harvey Oswald – Actor should appear to be in his 20s to 30s; slight to average build; rural Louisiana twang required. Oswald sings in the closing number and requires the dramatic capacity to spar with John Wilkes Booth in the pivotal Book Depository scene.

Townspeople – Five adults and one child will be required to play a variety of parts as listed below. The “townspeople” require strong individual voices as they sing “How I Saved Roosevelt” and the gut-wrenching “Something Just Broke.”

The Playwrights

Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) – from Playwright’s Horizon

Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics for SATURDAY NIGHT, A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, ANYONE CAN WHISTLE, COMPANY, FOLLIES, THE FROGS, PACIFIC OVERTURES, SWEENY TODD, MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG, SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, INTO THE WOODS, ASSASSINS, PASSION and BOUNCE/ROAD SHOW, as well as, lyrics for WEST SIDE STORY, GYPSY, and DO I HEAR A WALTZ? and additional lyrics for CANDIDE. Anthologies of his work include SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM, MARRY ME A LITTLE, YOU’RE GONNA LOVE TOMORROW, PUTTING IT TOGETHER, and SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM. In 2000he received the Japan Art Association’s Praemium Imperiale prize for theatre/film, and in 2008 he was honored with a special Tony Award for lifetime achievement in the theatre. The book FINISHING THE HAT (2010) is a collection of Sondheim’s lyrics, with his own commentaries on them. For films, he composed the scores of STAVISKY, co-composed REDS and wrote songs for DICK TRACY – winning an Academy Award for “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)”. He also composed music for the television production of EVENING PRIMROSE. He co-authored the film THE LAST OF SHEILA and the play GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER. The HBO documentary SIX BY SONDHEIM (2013) chronicleS his life and artistic process. In 2015, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

John Weidman (book)

John Weidman

John Weidman wrote the new book for the 2011 revival of ANYTHING GOES with Timothy Crouse (Tony Award, Best Musical Revival; Olivier Award, Best Musical Production). He wrote the book for PACIFIC OVERTURES (Tony nominations, Best Book and Best Musical), score by Stephen Sondheim, produced and directed on Broadway by Harold Prince. He wrote the book for ASSASSINS, score by Stephen Sondheim, directed Off-Broadway by Jerry Zaks and in London’s West End (Drama Critic Award for Best Musical) by Sam Mendes. HAPPINESS, score by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie, directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman; and TAKE FLIGHT. He wrote the book for BIG (Tony nomination, Best Book), score by Richard Maltby, Jr. and David Shire, directed on Broadway by Mick Ockrent, and co-created with choreographer/director Susan Stroman the musical CONTACT (Tony nomination, Best Book; Tony Award, Best Musical). BOUNCE/ROAD SHOW, score by Stephen Sondheim, direction by Harold Prince, premiered at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. He wrote the screen adaptation for CONTACT for Miramax. Since 1986, he has written for SESAME STREET, receiving more than a dozen Emmy Awards for outstanding Writing for a Children’s Program. From 1999-2009 he served as president of the Dramatists Guild of America.



This Pulitzer-Prize winning play introduces audiences to Lincoln and Booth. The names of a President and his Assassin, which are given to rival brothers by their parents; creating a disenfranchised self-fulfilling prophecy. Lincoln, the eldest brother is attempting to make an honest living dressing up as his namesake in a local tourist arcade. Lincoln is known for his mad skills as a three-card monte hustler. Booth, the younger brother, desperately wants to learn his brother’s tricks to the three-card monte trade. The audience tracks their history of poverty and their dance of death to find out who is the “Player” and who will be “Played”.

Character Descriptions

Booth – Booth is Lincoln’s younger brother. Booth wants to be a famous hustler like his brother, and to learn his brother’s tricks of the three-card monte trade. He continually makes fun of Lincoln for holding down a job.*

Lincoln (Link) – Lincoln is Booth’s older brother. His current profession finds him portraying Abraham Lincoln at a local tourist arcade, where people pay money to “assassinate” him with a cap gun. Lincoln used to be an amazing three-card monte hustler, but gave it up after his partner was shot.*

*Both men were abandoned by their mother when Link was sixteen and Booth was eleven. Their father then ditched them two years later. The brothers live in Booth’s tiny boarding house room, with Link being the only breadwinner. Booth contributes anything he steals. They attempt to be responsible for one another, and, yet, it’s clear there is a dangerous rivalry.

The Playwright

Suzan-Lori Parks (from

Suzan-Lori Parks

Named among TIME magazine’s “100 Innovators for the Next Wave,” Suzan-Lori Parks is one of the most acclaimed playwrights in American drama today. She is the first African-American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, and is a MacArthur “Genius” Award recipient.

She’s been awarded grants by the National Endowment for the Arts, Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts and New York Foundation for the Arts. She is also the recipient of a Lila-Wallace READER’S DIGEST Award, a CalArts/Alpert Award in the Arts, and a Guggenheim Foundation Grant. She is an alum of New Dramatists and of Mount Holyoke College.
Parks’ 365 DAYS/365 PLAYS (where she wrote a play a day for an entire year) was produced in over 700 theaters worldwide, creating one of the largest grassroots collaborations in theater history. Her plays include TOPDOG/UNDERDOG (2002 Pulitzer Prize winner); THE BOOK OF GRACE; IN THE BLOOD (2000 Pulitzer Prize finalist); VENUS (1996 OBIE Award); THE DEATH OF THE LAST BLACK MAN IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD; F*CKING A; IMPERCEPTIBLE MUTABILITIES IN THE THIRD KINGDOM (1990 OBIE Award); and THE AMERICA PLAY.

Parks has written numerous screenplays including GIRL 6 for Spike Lee, and adapted Zora Neale Hurston’s THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD for Oprah Winfrey Presents.

Parks’ first novel, GETTING MOTHER’S BODY (Random House, 2003), is a novel with songs and is set in the West Texas of her youth. Her adaptation of THE GERSHWIN’S PORGY AND BESS won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Her newest plays, FATHER COME HOME FROM THE WARS (PARTS 1, 2, & 3) – set during the Civil War – was awarded the Horton Foote Prize, the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama as well as being a 2015 Pulitzer Prize Finalist. Currently, performing WATCH ME WORK, a free weekly writing workshop, open to artists of all disciplines, Parks teaches at New York University, and serves at the Public Theatre as is Master Writer Chair.

Parks credits her mentor James Baldwin for starting her on the path of playwrighting. One of the first to recognize Parks’ writing skills, Mr. Baldwin declared Parks “an astonishing and beautiful creature who may become one of the most valuable artist of our time.”

Jessica López-Barkl, Director

Born and raised in Idaho, Jessica performed in 45 musicals and other plays throughout the Idaho area before she was 17 years of age. After the age of 17, Jessica moved to Seattle to study at Cornish College of the Arts and then in 2002, she moved to New York to study and receive her MFA in Theater at Sarah Lawrence College. She has been working in the theater and dance world in a variety of roles ever since.

Jessica returned to New York in 2014, to assume the role of Assistant Professor of Theater and Speech at SUNY Sullivan, after having worked as a freelance actor/director/designer in Albuquerque, NM, and after having been an adjunct faculty member at Walla Walla Community College. In New Mexico Jessica has either worked, performed, and/or directed at/with the N4th Theater/Rough Theater/In Strange Company, PLAY Conservatory, Fusion Theatre Company, The American Shakespeare Project/Adobe Theater, Musical Theater Southwest, The Vortex Theater, El Rey Theatre, and the University of New Mexico. Other regional credits include working with Seattle’s International Fringe Festival, Boulder’s International Fringe Festival, and Post Falls, Idaho’s Native American Festival. In Washington she has performed, directed and dramaturged at Seattle Repertory Theater, Intiman Theater, Theater Schmeater, Union Garage, Walla Walla Community College, Walla Walla Amphitheater, the Little Theatre of Walla Walla and Cornish College of the Arts.

In New York tri-state area Jessica worked, directed and performed at/with NACL Theatre, Shadowland Stages, New York Theatre Workshop, The Zipper Theater, Manhattan Ensemble Theatre, Atlantic Theater Lab, Monarch Productions, Concrete Temple Theatre, and Sarah Lawrence College. In Connecticut Jessica has worked as a performer for Shakespeare on the Sound.

Jessica holds a BFA in acting from Cornish College of the Arts, an MFA in Theater from Sarah Lawrence College, and was a member of the 2001-2002 Professional Arts Training Program at Seattle Repertory Theatre.


Recent acting roles include Yvette in NACL Theatre’s COURAGE, Ensemble in AFRICA, Oil in NACL’s THE WEATHER PROJECT, Foley Artist/Ensemble in Shadowland Stages’ SHIPWRECKED, Nurse and Peasblossom playing in repertory in ROMEO AND JULIET and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM with The Vortex Theatre’s Shakespeare on the Plaza in Albuquerque, NM; Savannah in MAMA WON’T FLY at the N4th Theatre in Albuquerque, NM; Phebe in AS YOU LIKE IT at The Vortex Theatre; Peggy in THE FRONT PAGE, also at The Vortex Theatre; and Ann in ALL MY SONS at the Adobe Theatre in Albuquerque, NM.