Pioneer Press gives out annual "Boonie" awards for the finest community theater in the western suburbs.
The West Suburban Players received the following nominations (boldface denotes winners).

Best Actor: Craig Gustafson - Sir Toby Belch - Twelfth Night
Best Performance, Musical, Female: Angela DeMarco - Luisa - The Fantasticks
Best Performance, Musical, Male: Steve Schroeder - John Wilkes Booth - Assassins
Best Performance, Musical, Male: Steve Schroeder - Zach - A Chorus Line
Best Supporting Actor: John Corona - Sir Andrew Aguecheek - Twelfth Night
Best Supporting Performance, Musical, Female: Justine Bon Durent - Sheila - A Chorus Line
Best Supporting Performance, Musical, Female: Diane Ladley - Sara Jane Moore - Assassins
Best Supporting Performance, Musical, Female: Amanda Powell - Squeaky Fromme - Assassins
Best Supporting Performance, Musical, Male: Merel K. Marine - Samuel Byck - Assassins
Best Supporting Performance, Musical, Male: Peter Rasey - Paul San Marco - A Chorus Line
Best Play: Twelfth Night
Best Musical: A Chorus Line
Best Musical: Assassins


PIONEER PRESS - Thursday, November 26, 1998


West Suburban Players
(630) 832-8942
Oakbrook Terrace Park District
1S325 S. Ardmore
Through Dec. 6

Our squeaky wheel act has paid off with the delivery of two productions that we'd longed to see on local stages. First came Des Plaines Theatre Guild's holiday satire "Inspecting Carol." Now the West Suburban Players were about to open Stephen Sondheim's "Assassins." Rather than happy anticipation, we were filled with guilt and not a little dread, based on the assumption that an amateur company would, ultimately, not be up to this challenge.

Sometimes it's good to be wrong.

The Players' "Assassins" is, quite simply, one of the few best amateur productions we've seen on this beat, and we can't recall a more consistently excellent cast than the one director Craig Gustafson has assembled here. We will endeavor not to enthuse too greatly, but the company just got every aspect of this complex show right, and the result was one of those moments that remind you what theater is about. Their production stands up well to Apple Tree's Jeff-award winning rendition of 1996.

The show's concept -- an exploration of the lives, motives and personalities of America's presidential assassins, successful and otherwise -- is unconventional and not for everyone. But it is strikingly original, often chillingly insightful, and contains versatile and virtuosic songwriting by Sondheim.

It's hard to single out anyone in this cast, but Steve Schroeder stood above even this high standard with his superb portrayal of John Wilkes Booth. All of the assassins are, as it were, right on target, including Christopher Hickman as Guizeppe Zangara (F.D.R. attempt), Ben Deegan as Leon Czolgosz (William McKinley), Lars Timpa as Charles Guiteau (James Garfield) and Peter Rasey as John Hinckley (Ronald Reagan attempt). But we particularly enjoyed the comic performances of Amanda Powell and Diane Ladley, as, respectively, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme and Sara Jane Moore, who both proved clumsier than their target, Gerald Ford. Merel K. Marine was a hoot as Samuel Byck (Nixon attempt), and young Will Reynolds impressed with a sweet tenor as the Balladeer.

West Suburban's "Assassins" is a killer.

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