The Playhouse returns to the genius work of Stephen Sondheim with this audacious musical that speaks to the moment we are in as a country in a prescient and powerful way. This show tells the story of a group of Americans consumed by grievance and a desperate need to be heard – featuring a thrilling score by the master of the American musical. Bold, original, and surprisingly funny, Assassins is a musical not to be missed.
Cold-blooded killers provide the chilling subject of this musical. Unusual stories to base a musical on? Sure. But with typical Sondheim grace and wit, this daring, darkly funny, Tony Award®-winning musical exposé is certain to be one of the highlights in a year of political turmoil.
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. 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.
“Let it be stated that ‘Assassins’ does NOT celebrate its homicidal subjects. Mr. Sondheim and Mr. Weidman are simply posing a question that arises in many people’s minds when they read accounts of shocking, irrational crimes: ‘Why would someone do that?'”
– THE NEW YORK TIMES
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 is the show that gives new meaning to the phrase “killer musical.” With a stylish Stephen Sondheim score and a provocative book by John Weidman, Assassins brings to the stage a (shooting) gallery of some of history’s most notorious players—the men and women who attempted to kill American presidents.
This striking work looks at the lives, loves and lunacy of nine American assassins, including John Wilkes Booth, John Hinckley, Lee Harvey Oswald and Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme. Both serious and satirical, the musical asks what hunger drove these people to their actions and what binds them all together. Is that drive what makes them quintessentially American?
Sondheim has said that he expected backlash from the public due to the content, telling The New York Times, “There are always people who think that certain subjects are not right for musicals… we’re not going to apologize for dealing with such a volatile subject. Nowadays, virtually ‘everything goes’.”
By developing the characters of historic assassins out of the slim biographical information found in the daily news, Assassins prompts us to consider their motivation. Sondheim confronts pain in order to cauterize the decay and heal the sicknesses which lurk at the core of our society. Departing from the humanism of his previous musical Into the Woods, Sondheim suggests that political murderers are a product of the American political culture.
ADVISORY: This production contains explicit language and mature content. All guns used during this performance are replicas that were provided, checked, and rendered inoperable by a weapons specialist for the safety of our artists and audiences. All gunshot sound effects are pre-recorded.