Show Credits: Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim Book by John Weidman
A multiple Tony Award-winning theatrical tour-de-force, Assassins combines Sondheim's signature blend of intelligently stunning lyrics and beautiful music with a panoramic story of our nation's culture of celebrity and the violent means some will use to obtain it, embodied by America's four successful and five would-be presidential assassins. Bold, original, disturbing, and alarmingly funny, Assassins is perhaps the most controversial musical ever written.
Assassins lays bare the lives of nine individuals who assassinated or tried to assassinate the President of the United States, in a one-act historical "revusical" that explores the dark side of the American experience. From John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald, writers Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman bend the rules of time and space, taking us on a nightmarish roller coaster ride in which assassins and would-be assassins from different historical periods meet, interact and inspire each other to harrowing acts in the name of the American Dream.
Assassinsrequires skilled singers who are also versatile actors. This is an ideal choice for mature audiences and will challenge your designers as they try to recreate famous moments and people in America's history.
Insight from the experts Staging Tip: A unit set with moveable pieces can suggest the scripted locales: A shooting gallery, a barroom, a barn, a park bench, a car, an exhibition hall, the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, a sidewalk, Hinckley's rec room, an electric chair.
This show has many elements usually associated with plays, which is one of the things that makes it such a musical milestone. In casting, turn a special eye upon actors who can sing, rather than singers who can act.
One idea that has worked well with other productions is to plan after-show discussions of the piece with the audience to further enrich its meaning and unique power.
Author John Weidman has commented that the show is more like a revue than a book musical, meaning it's not a celebration of the assassins' actions but a peek into their minds. That makes "Something Just Broke," which documents the average citizen's reaction to assassinations, a pivotal emotional moment for an audience.