Assassins (1991 Original Off-Broadway Cast) Cast Recording
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Top Customer Reviews
At a carnival shooting gallery the assassins who have tried, successfully and not, to claim the lives of American Presidents come together. Each has their chance to tell their story in their own terms. Sondheim's brilliance is that he allows each assassin their own voice, which is best evidenced on the sweet duet "Unworthy of Your Love" between John Hinckley and Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme wherein each bemoans their unworthiness to be loved by, respectively, Jodie Foster and Chalres Manson. Sondheim uses the simple melody in ironic contrast to the true meaning of the lyrics to powerful effect.
The integrity of "Assassins" comes from giving each character their say, from the vitrolic attack upon the memory of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth ("The Ballad of Booth") to the bitter fury of Giuseppe Zangara on his way to the electric chair ("How I Saved Roosevelt").
As John Wilkes Booth, Victor Garber ("Godspell," "Sleepless in Seattle," "Titanic") is the most recognizable name in the original cast, which also includes Jace Alexander, Patrick Cassidy, Terrence Mann and Debra Monk. "Assassins" began performances at Playwrights Horizons in December 1990. John Weidman did the dialogue with Sondheim doing the lyrics and music.Read more ›
It is not a traditional book musical, being more like a revue in structure but that should not upset people.
Some seem to think it glorifies (encourages?) assassination attempts. This is nonsense. It does ask audience members to take a critical look at a nation where "any person can grow up to kill the president." Could it be that some people just are not prepared to think about what is really being presented here?
Not liking the show, or not understanding it is fine, but why misrepresent what it is? ASSASSINS was NOT a flop on Broadway: THIS production never played on Broadway. It was scheduled for a limited run off-Broadway in December 1990 and January 1991, and all performances were sold out even before the run began. That makes it a hit! A new production finally brough the show to Studio 54 on April 22 and garnered RAVE reviews, even from the same critics who did not like the show in 1991! (It just goes to show waht an unpopular president and an unpopular war can do to people's perceptions!!)
In telling the stories of American Presidential assassinations (or attempted assassinations) Sondheim uses many American music forms: ballads to cakewalks to marches to bubblegum pop and each segment has its own unique flavour.
The recording is another first rate affair from RCA Victor with excellent program notes, a detailed synopsis, histories of the assassins and a full libretto. For the most part it features only the musical segments but does include the entire final scene: A dramatic showdown between Lee Harvey Oswald and the other assassins. A shame it did not include Sam Byck's two hysterical (in both senses of the word) monologues.Read more ›
The cliche that Sondheim doesn't write melodies is fairly scotched here -- this score is not only a strong contender for the composer's most sheerly tuneful, but a comprehensive musical tour through virtually every conceivable American popular music style from the 1860's onward.
Civil War balladry, barbershop quartets, ragtime, Sousa and Cohan patriotic anthems, Woody Guthrie folk tunes, bubble-gum pop, serial music a la John Cage or Philip Glass, even self-referential quotations, it's all here. The added weight of Michael Starobin's awesome orchestrations only underlines the fact that, merely judged as composition, "Assassins" is a stunning work.
The subject matter, as many have stated, is disturbing and courageously un-commercial, and, post Election 2000, eerily relevant. The famous comment reprinted in the preface to the printed libretto (a theatregoer at the original Playwright's Horizons production was asked by her companion, "Who am I supposed to feel for?", to which she replied "Us. You're supposed to feel for US.")is ever more apt.
The necessary suspension of disbelief is justified by every turn of Jerome Weidman's ingenious libretto and Sondheim's matchless lyrics, and certainly the Texas Book Depository scene, which is both profound and pathetic, and unforgettably chilling.
Still, perhaps the most notable achievement is the rich vein of dark humor which runs throughout, sometimes side by side with the most unsavory of images, and by way of which many of the most potent observations are made.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
They say the line between madness and genius is paper thin. Nobody explores this murky territory or gives voice to the disenfranchised better than composer Stephen Sondheim. Read morePublished 7 months ago by David Cellitti
Addictive and delicious look at the history of political killings.Published 13 months ago by Sallie D. Baierlein
It's a stunning, wildly original show, and this is the cast album to get, because it has such wonderful orchestrations. Read morePublished 16 months ago by addison de witt
A richly recorded, complex and beautifully sung, chilling musical.
The master of musical macabre pulls it off perfectly and tunefully pulls us into this pre-Sweeney Todd... Read more