aPlaywright-director J.E. Ballantyne Jr. returns to one of his favorite topics with the drama "Sparky ... from Chicago."
The play is the second production in a planned "Assassination" trilogy by the Victorian Players to mark the 50th anniversary of the murder of President John F. Kennedy. "Finale," a play about President Abraham Lincoln's assassin John Wilkes Booth, was staged in February and "Specter of Treason - The Oswald Trial," which Ballantyne wrote in the '90s, will be staged in November.
Ballantyne picked Ruby as the subject of his second JFK play because his background remains largely unknown by many people despite killing Lee Harvey Oswald while he was in custody for Kennedy's assassination.
"It was a tough show to write," Ballantyne said. "I couldn't decide how to present it. There are so many facets to his life, who he was and how he got to where he ended up."
Ballantyne decided to focus on Ruby's documented ties to organized crime and said he strives to be historically accurate in these plays.
"This is so intricate," he said. "You have to have a firm basis on whatever you're writing to have it be as accurate as possible."
Serving as director also gives him an opportunity to tinker with the script in rehearsals and see how the material work with the actors.
The cast features Brady Flamino, Jack Hay, Victor D. Garcia, Mary Rosenberg, Curtiss E. Barron, Camille Rose Smith, Thomas Lee Ewen, C. Richard Haldi, Davin Stilson, Stephanie Serrach and Sam Luptak Jr.
One thing the audience won't see in "Sparky .. from Chicago" is a recreation of Rudy shooting Oswald, something Ballantyne tried to stage the first time he directed "Specter of Treason."
"Everyone knows that picture so well, unless you have it just perfect, it's not going to work," he said.
Instead, the audience will see the moments leading up to the confrontation with the gunshot itself being heard, not seen.
Friday will be the premiere performance of "Sparky."