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Entering its 13th year of production, Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga will explore the nature of responsibility in its 2020 season.

"We like to pick a theme to help streamline the choices of what we want to produce, but also to give purpose to what we are doing as an organization," says founder Garry Lee Posey.

"The theater we excel at creating has always been purpose-driven. We want to impart messages that are personal, relatable and accessible for both our artists and audiences."

With that in mind, ETC will kick off its new season with "Assassins," with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by John Weidman. "Assassins" opens Friday, Feb. 14, for six performances over two weekends in Barking Legs Theater.

If you go

* What: “Assassins”

* Where: Barking Legs Theatre, 1307 Dodds Ave.

* When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14-15, 20-22; 2:30 p.m. Feb. 16

* Admission: $20-$30

* For more information: www.artful.ly/store/events/19824

This historical presentation of presidential assassination attempts up through Reagan paints individuals who feel compelled by a greater responsibility to take an action that is morally reprehensible, regardless of political preferences.

"We see this as a highly relevant discussion given the current political climate and upcoming elections," Posey says.

"We aren't advocating for any political party or ideal nor are we taking a stance on the current administration. While we did choose the piece knowing the political divisiveness we are facing in the country right now, we are hoping to communicate that we do have rights, but that with every action there is a consequence," explains Posey.

The show opens with a balladeer enticing anyone who will listen to step up to his shooting gallery and take aim. Eventually the show's nine assassins join him, purchasing their weapon of choice.

"Gun control is definitely another potential angle conceptually addressed within the story," says director James Ogden. "Then we cycle through each of the character's stories, starting with John Wilkes Booth."

Sondheim and Weidman handle the difficult subject material with humor, pathos and a grace that enables an audience to experience a different side of a story they think they might know.

The cast includes Andrew Steele, Josh Garcia, Christian Smith, Gabriel Hubbard, Zack Caywood, Austin Campbell, Michael Myers, Jordan Bennet, Alyssa Whitesell and Cody Keown. Musical direction is provided by Terry Sanford.

For tickets: www.artful.ly/store/events/19824

 

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