Assassins Shooting Gallery, Part III: Garrison as Fromme and Baker as Moore

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05 Apr 2004

<I>Assassins</I> Mary Catherine Garrison (inset Fromme) and Becky Ann Baker (Moore).
Assassins Mary Catherine Garrison (inset Fromme) and Becky Ann Baker (Moore).

In the weeks leading up to the show's Broadway debut, Playbill On-Line will take an exclusive look at Assassins, focusing on all nine major characters and the actors who portray them.

This week features Mary Catherine Garrison and Becky Ann Baker and their respective characters, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme and Sara Jane Moore.

 

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Character:

Assassin: Lynette Fromme
(aka Squeaky, Red, Lynette Alice Fromme)
Born: Oct. 22, 1949 in Santa Monica, California
Before she was an assassin: Unofficial Manson "Family" Leader (after his arrest)
Other jobs: Westchester Lariats performer
Assassination Attempt: President Gerald Ford on September 5, 1975, outside the Senator Hotel in Sacramento, California



Why she became an assassin: Kicked out by her father, Fromme met Charles Manson at Venice Beach and became one of his followers. Still in contact with Manson after his conviction and. trying to gain attention for their environmental concerns, Fromme pointed a gun — loaded but with no bullet in the firing chamber — at Ford from two feet away.

Found: Guilty of attempted assassination and sentenced to life in prison.

Famous Words: [As she pointed the gun on Ford] "The country is in a mess. This man is not your president!"

 

Played by:

Actor: Mary Catherine Garrison
Born: December 19, 1973 in Clarksdale, Mississippi (grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana)
Before she was in Assassins: Broadway: The Man Who Came to Dinner; Off-Broadway: Debbie Does Dallas, Crimes of the Heart
Other jobs: Waitress, Mental Hospital File Clerk
"I was a waitress at a Chinese restaurant which I think was owned by gangsters. I was the only waitress."

Why she became an actor: "I was living in New Orleans and there was a creative arts high school called NOCCA (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts) and I thought it was going to be like Fame where people are just dancing. I had to go there. I actually got my minor in art. I assumed I would go into art. I wrote but I didn't really enjoy writing that much. I didn't enjoy dancing that much, I didn't sing or play an instrument, so that left acting. So I just thought 'Okay, yeah, I'll just try that.' And I never looked back, never did anything else."

On her casting for Assassins:
"Honestly, I have what I can only describe as a phobia, I'm so deeply afraid of singing in front of people. Actually, what happened was they hired Jennifer Laura Thompson; it was between the two of us and we had like this audition showdown. It was like two guys and two girls and Alex [Gemignani] and Jennifer got it. Then Urinetown went to Broadway and she stayed with that show. The experience was so daunting because everybody was such a great singer."

On research for playing Fromme:
"She's just so passionate about her beliefs and why she wants to do what she wants to do. It's interesting to play someone whose that passionate about something that's so off-center. I've been reading up a lot on her life, trying to get both sides of the story."

On being a political person:
"No, [I'm] not at all. I hate to admit it, but it just doesn't register with me. I can't dissect the language. I just tend to get a feeling for someone. I know that feeling is probably wrong because politicians are actors. What do they say? 'D.C. is Hollywood for ugly people' They're still performers."

 

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Character:

Assassin: Sara Jane Moore
(aka Sara Jane Kahn, Sally)
Born: 1930 in Charleston, West Virginia
Married: Five times
Before she was an assassin: Accountant
Other jobs: FBI Informant, Women's Army Corp, Nursing School Student
Assassination Attempt: President Gerald Ford on September 22, 1975, outside the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, California

Why she became an assassin: Leaving her job in her forties, Moore turned to revolutionary political groups. She was then hired as an informer by the FBI to gather information on the Patty Hearst kidnappers. When her FBI ties became known, Moore took action to split herself from the organization and to shake up the political system.

Found: Guilty of attempted assassination and sentenced to life in prison.

Famous Words: "I didn’t want to kill anybody, but there comes a point when the only way you can make a statement is to pick up a gun."

 

Played by:

Actor: Becky Ann Baker
Born: February 17 in Fort Knox, Kentucky (grew up in various cities)
Married: To actor Dylan Baker
Before she was in Assassins: Broadway: Titanic, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas; Off-Broadway: June Moon, Shanghai Moon.
Other jobs: Bartender
"In summer stock, I learned how to bartend because we all had to have these little jobs at the theatre. And so when I got here, I had a couple of very short-lived bartending jobs."

Why she became an actor: "I was one of those kids. I grew up in army bases, my father was a military man, and we moved around so much and were so rootless. You find in this business that there are a lot of people who had these roaming nomad backgrounds that go into the arts because you don't really have one job. It's suited in that you're constantly changing jobs and you don't necessarily know the next destination or what it holds for you. I got to watch a lot of smalltown community theatre and it was always a very romantic idea to me. I always thought I was going to be either an astronaut, an archaeologist or an actor. They all started with A's."

On her casting for Assassins:
"Joe [Mantello] asked me to do the workshop of it for Roundabout and I had just come off a season of a television show called 'Freaks and Geeks.' And I think that's how he thought of it, you know that kind of typical mid-Western mom that no one expects to do anything unusual."

On research for playing Moore:
"It's not as easy to find stuff on Sara Jane Moore as it is on, say, "Squeaky" Fromme. It think [Fromme] captured the imagination of people who like to write a little bit more. This is a woman who had five husbands, and four different children by different husbands and had about as many different careers as well. One of the most interesting things about her is her inability to commit to one thing. I started getting this idea that it's a woman who likes to reinvent herself a lot. I won't equate her to Madonna [laughs], but it's this woman who really likes to project herself onto different scenes."

On being a political person:
"I am. Yes, my husband and I both are watching all the [election coverage] pretty closely. And yes, I find seeing American history through the eyes of a villain is really fascinating to me."