If you're triggered by the sight and sound of guns (even prop replicas), it'd be wise to skip the Classic Stage Company's production of Stephen Sondheim's strange and stirring Assassins. Rifles and revolvers get plenty of play. That said, missing this show would be a shame — if you can snag a ticket. Set to open 19 months ago but delayed by the pandemic, director and designer John Doyle's take on this darkly humorous slice of history is tight, insightful, and impeccably performed. It aims,...
Everybody's got the right to be happy, and that may well be achieved by seeing Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's musical Assassins Off-Broadway at Classic Stage Company.
Assassins is a musical that imagines a meeting between nine historical criminals at one American carnival shooting gallery. The group, all of whom assassinated or tried to assassinate a U.S. president at some point in history, play the carnival "game" and inspire each other to commit some of history's most horrific acts for real.
One constant throughout the assassins' respective historical eras, which span multiple centuries, is the American culture of celebrity. The American religion of fame has motivated some of the nation's most revered celebrities — and the same set of values is the catalyst behind some of the nation's most infamous criminals.
One of Sondheim's lesser-performed musicals, Assassins Off-Broadway premiered in 1990 at Playwrights Horizons and later opened on Broadway in 2004. The two productions were complete opposites: the 1990 production closed after 73 performances and mixed-to-negative reviews, but the 2004 production received high praise, corroborated by five Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical.
The show has played worldwide in countries like England and Australia and been revived in New York twice in the last four years. Assassins was last seen on the New York stage in 2017 as part of New York City Center's Encores! program, and now the show is off Broadway once more with a star-studded revival at Classic Stage Company.
Cast and creative
By: Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, with a Book by John Weidman (from an idea by Charles Gilbert, Jr.)
Director: John Doyle
Producer: Classic Stage Company
Cast list: Adam Chanler-Berat (as John Hinckley, Jr.), Eddie Cooper (as The Proprietor), Tavi Gevinson (as Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme), Andy Grotelueschen (as Samuel
By: ck), Judy Kuhn (as Sara Jane Moore), Steven Pasquale (as John Wilkes Booth), Ethan Slater (as Lee Harvey Oswald/The Balladeer), Will Swenson (as Charles Guiteau), Wesley Taylor (as Giuseppe Zangara), and Brandon Uranowitz (as Leon Czolgosz)
Design: John Doyle
Lighting: Jane Cox and Tess James
Costume: Ann Hould-Ward
Sound: Matt Stine
Other info: Music Supervision & Orchestrations by Greg Jarrett, Projection
Design: by Steve Channon, and Wig
Design: by Charles G. LaPointe