The idea for Assassins first planted itself in Stephen Sondheim's mind when he was serving on a panel at Stuart Ostrow's Musical Theater Lab and read a play by a young playwright named Charles Gilbert. Gilbert had submitted a script about a fictional presidential assassin, and although Sondheim found the play itself problematic, he was fascinated by the peripheral material Gilbert had compiled--letters and anecdotes from actual assassins. Several years later, after obtaining permission from Gilbert, Sondheim decided to tackle the project along with John Weidman, a lyricist whom he had previously collaborated with on Pacific Overtures. Originally, Sondheim and Weidman intended to explore the lives of assassins throughout history beginning with Brutus and Julius Caesar , but they soon realized this was far too broad a topic and decided to limit themselves to assassins who had attempted to kill the President of the United States. As the project developed, their task soon became clear--to dramatize the unpopular thesis that the most notorious killers in our culture are as much a product of that culture as the famous leaders they attempt to murder.
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Dazzling in its originality. Stephen Sondheim's groundbreaking achievements in musical theatre attain a new level of audacity and accomplishment in his latest creation, Assassins. Evoking a fraternity of Presidential assassins and would-be assassins across a hundred years of our history including John Wilkes Booth, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, John Hinckley and Lee Harvey Oswald , he and collaborator John Weidman examine success, failure and the questionable drive for power and celebrity in American society.
The result is an unusually imaginative and utterly idiosyncratic entertainment compounded equally of insight, pleasure, and provocation. Assassins is an important and permanent addition to the American stage. Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
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Verified Purchase. Being a Sonheim fan, I expected to like the music, and did. You need to get the CD even if you don't like the script.
It stands on its own merits. My favorite: The Gun Song, a delightful little ballad about how easy it is to shoot someone. I hope not, as I intend to suggest it for next season in our little theater here.
The play does not promote assassination, nor does it present assassins in a good light. Instead, it shows these historical figures as what they are: madmen, with all the weaknesses of other humans, but somehow flawed in their logic. Consider Charles Guiteau, who assassinated President Garfield, in part to promote the sales of his book. Superficially, as good a justification as any, but, let's face it, crazy as a bedbug. The writing is superb, and the action varies from the absolutely hilarious scene between "Squeaky" Frome and Sarah Jane Moore, to the powerful confrontation between John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald.
This is a case where they have been proven wrong. All that was needed was a book by John Weidman that twisted time into the depths of a carnival shooting gallery plus music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim to tie it all together into a neat little package called "Assassins". An example regarding Guiseppe Zangara, who attempted to assassinate president-elect Franklin D.
Roosevelt: from Wikipedia: "Zangara, a poorly educated bricklayer, suffered severe pain in his abdomen, later attributed to adhesions of the gall bladder, possibly originating from an appendectomy performed in These adhesions were later cited as a cause for his increasing mental delusions. It became increasingly difficult for him to work due to both his physical and mental conditions.
I highly recommend this book. The worst that can happen is you might learn something while being entertained. My favorite Stephen Sondheim musical. Powerful, compelling, dark. It is also fun to parody, sharpen your chops. Johnny Football was a handsome fellow I love this song and my parodies. I loved it! It stuck with me It's not one of Sondheim's better known musicals, but as a government teacher and a Sondheim fan, I bought the book because I was interesting in seeing how things played out.
It's a great story, weaving history, imagination and music together. If our high school had a drama program, I would have recommended it. Go to Amazon. Back to top. Get to Know Us. Shopbop Designer Fashion Brands. Alexa Actionable Analytics for the Web.
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Music: Stephen Sondheim Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim Book: John Weidman Premiere: Tuesday, December 18, Cast List: Fictional: The Proprietor: gun salesman who provides the characters with their weapons at the beginning of the show The Balladeer: narrator who provides the stories of the assassins Ensemble: crowd members, chorus, etc. Shelves of prizes. The target figures are all men, dressed formally in various fashions from the last two hundred years. The Proprietor stands behind the counter. Don't know what to do? Hey, pal -- Czolgosz looks over I mean you -- Yeah.
Assassins is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by John Weidman , based on an original concept by Charles Gilbert Jr. Using the framing device of an all-American, yet sinister, carnival game, the semi-revue portrays a group of historical figures who attempted successfully or not to assassinate Presidents of the United States , and explores what their presence in American history says about the ideals of their country. The score is written to reflect both popular music of the various depicted eras and a broader tradition of "patriotic" American music. The musical opened Off-Broadway in , to many mixed and negative reviews, and ran for 73 performances, or two months; in , the show was produced on Broadway to highly favorable notices, and won five Tony Awards , including Best Revival of a Musical. Sondheim asked Gilbert for permission to use his idea. Gilbert consented and offered to write the book; but Sondheim declined, having already had collaborator John Weidman in mind. Assassins opened Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons on December 18, , and closed on February 16, , after 73 performances.