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From 15 critic and 177 member reviews
Members say: Great singing, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant

About the show

Encores! Off-Center presents a star-studded concert staging of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s musical about the people who have attempted to kill or successfully assassinated U.S. presidents. More…

A carnival ride through the history of political violence, 'Assassins' looks right into the heart of American anger, providing sensational showstoppers for a gallery of U.S. presidential assassins ranging from John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald to Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme. 'Assassins' offers an uncanny vision of where we are today, where we might be going, and whether everybody really has the right to their dreams. Featuring Tony winners Victoria Clark and Shuler Hensley, and Tony nominees Steven Boyer, John Ellison Conlee, and Alex Brightman.


"Perhaps the most moving and persuasive argument yet for Sondheim and Weidman’s 'Assassins'...The timing of this concert could not have been more stunning. Under Anne Kauffman’s miraculously seamless direction, the ensemble soars; especially Pasquale, along with Shuler Hensley as Leon Czolgosz and Danny Wolohan as Samuel Byck. The 'Assassins' concerts are repeated through this weekend. Don’t pass up your chance to catch a show the times finally have caught up with." Full Review

Musical Theater Review

"A superb production of a difficult but absolutely necessary masterwork. Expertly staged by Anne Kauffman, it was thrillingly acted and sung by a top-notch cast, studded with Tony nominees and winners, and accompanied by an ear-filling 13-member orchestra, conducted by music director Chris Fenwick...It was the smartest and most devastating musical in town." Full Review


"Anne Kauffman's exciting and incisive concert mounting...Sondheim's score, rather slyly, contains some of his catchiest melodies, as characters sing in the popular styles of their times...Unusual for a musical, Weidman's book contains many scenes that stand alone without leading into songs, and Kauffman's keen naturalistic direction makes these moments stand out with just as much impact as the musical ones." Full Review

Theater News Online

"The true message of the musical comes through loud and clear in Anne Kauffman’s beautifully cast and thoughtfully conceived production...Far from a simple morality play, 'Assassins' is one of musical theater’s most complex works, as it humanizes (to some degree) these troubled souls...Moreover, for all its darkness, Weidman and Sondheim provide genuine opportunities for light and laughter...The time is always for 'Assassins,' especially when it’s done with this much conviction!" Full Review

The New York Times

"The show’s revuelike format allows the authors to vary the palette with mad scenes, melodrama, minstrelsy and vaudeville. In the concert presentation of 'Assassins' is the comedy that works best...Kauffman does not make a legible case for the existence of two narrator figures...Nor has she been able to maintain drive through all of the vividly contrasting, often nonlinear scenes. But 'Assassins' is largely self-correcting, especially in its score...It is vocally exceptional." Full Review


"Despite its surprising humor, this remains a pitch-black show...Kauffman has done a fine job of making the patchwork structure fit the Encores! format of big band on stage, minimal scenery and scripts in hand as needed...The cast is uniformly good, both in delivering the dialogue-heavy lines and the stylistically diverse solos, duets and ensemble numbers." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Mostly thrilling, occasionally misfired production...As the man who killed Lincoln, Steven Pasquale is a marvel...The production itself, which is being directed by Anne Kauffman, is not without its flaws...But for a myriad of reasons, none of which its creators could have anticipated, 'Assassins' has become a show for our time. This is why, along with a number of very strong performances, especially that of Pasquale, this production ought to be a very hot ticket." Full Review


"Thought-provoking and timely...Theatergoers who have dodged the show in the past will want to make sure they don't let this production whiz past...Anne Kauffman's production, though it takes a moment to find its footing, ultimately drives home a strong political message with its emphasis not on the nine misfits and malcontents who tried to kill presidents, nor even on the presidents they wanted to kill, but rather on the gun-loving country that brought them into being." Full Review


“Chilling, especially every single moment that Steven Pasquale takes the stage…‘Assassins’ soars when the voices soar, although the dramatic scenes in between sometimes fall flat, and director Anne Kauffman hasn’t quite managed to keep the sag from showing…The tone veers wildly at times, and there’s too much comedy for my taste, but the music! Oh, the music! There are so many wonderful songs.” Full Review

Frequent Business Traveler

"It’s hard to single out a single cast member but the brooding Shuler Hensley, Danny Wolohan, as well as the wonderfully inept team of Erin Markey and the inimitable Victoria Clark, were all worthy of note...The image of the nine assassins singing about 'another national anthem' without having to invoke current imagery clearly resonated with theatergoers." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"It feels dangerous (and I mean that in the best of all possible ways) and hilarious at the same time...Kauffman’s direction is not as clear and concise as it could be...The show seemed to lack a bull's-eye aim...There are some singularly spectacular moments and magnificent performances throughout this one-act musical...It’s filled to the rim with talent, as most of the Encores! shows are, but with 'Assassins,' the production fails to hit its mark squarely in the center." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Mordantly funny and disturbing...Pasquale’s is just one of many superb performances in this production...Not everything works smoothly...The actors relied on scripts a little more than usual for Encores! shows these days. There was also an occasional tentativeness to the performances...More generally, the bare-bones staging proves a bit limiting...The performers and 12-piece orchestra do full justice to Sondheim’s score...The music is richly melodic and the lyrics witty and provocative." Full Review

AM New York

"Kauffman made a lot of choices that I disagree with, such as encouraging the actors to scale down the tone of their performances...This is a difficult and challenging musical that works best in an intimate venue...As such, it was never going to work perfectly at City Center. For the most part however, this is a potent staging of a groundbreaking musical that contains many great performances—and I would urge anyone who appreciates serious musical theater to check out the production." Full Review

Edge New York

"Stirring, captivating, sometimes uneven...The show is a clever pastiche-y blend of American musical theater tropes including vaudeville and the still-popular revue. Sondheim's brilliant marriage of music and lyrics is a tribute to irony...Kauffman has assembled some of Broadway's greatest (and a few terrific newcomers) to embody these fascinating figures...For a 'concert' version, the show is certainly tight and taut...The show is durable and packs a perceptive punch." Full Review


"The show premiered in 1990 and has lost not one whit of edge since. It may actually have extra gleam nowadays...Sondheim and Weidman structured the show as a series of vignettes, but the usually gifted director Kauffman falls short in pulling them together, and the show never quite gels into an organic whole. Yet the production is still a treat...The cast mostly makes hay of the material...May not be a classic production. But what a fun murderers’ row of musical-theater mavens it gives us." Full Review

Funny, Exquisite, Delightful, Absorbing, Clever

See it if You want to see a great show the singing was excellent. Story start with Booth, each one tell and you see the story thur there eyes.

Don't see it if It can be a topic some may not want to see.

Great staging, Great writing, Funny, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if you like Steven Sondheim lyrics and have an interest in what makes people behave the way they do.

Don't see it if You are not a fan of Steven Sondheim and don't care to know about people who either assassinated or tried to assassinate a president.

Thought-provoking, Intense, Absorbing

See it if You enjoy Sondheim and politics

Don't see it if you don't like bringing up painful past history

Great writing, Great staging, Great singing, Great acting, Clever

See it if you love Sondheim and appreciate some of his less accessible work.This is a terrific, and very timely, production. Kudos to all.

Don't see it if you aren't willing to stretch your theatre mind a bit.It isn't an easy topic, but it is handled beautifully. It will make you think.

Great writing, Clever, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if You are a Sondheim fan or like musicals about non-traditional topics.

Don't see it if You want something light and fun

Great singing, Insipid, Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if If you love Sondheim. It was brilliant & so on point.

Don't see it if You're pro #45

Relevant, Great singing, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if You are a fan of Sondheim or want to see some of these great actors

Don't see it if You want a more cohesive production or are sensitive to talking about killing lightly.

Intelligent, Great writing, Funny, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if You like Sondheim or American history

Don't see it if You don't like dark comedy, or darkness in general

Also There were some sound balance issues, but overall this was a wonderful... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Masterful, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You want to see Sondheim at his best and most innovative

Don't see it if You don't like non-linear plots

Great music, Great acting, Must see, Relevant, Unique

See it if you love history

Don't see it if guns offend you

Also This show has honestly changed me. It takes on tragic presidents' deat... Read more Read less

Must see, Relevant, Absorbing

See it if Assassins no longer eludes, subtext is most relevant while the obvious entertains.

Don't see it if Sondheim is not for everyone (but when you get him, there's nothing better)

Relevant, Great writing, Great singing, Absorbing, Clever

See it if You like great, innovative theater, like you've come to expect with Sondheim. A show about Assassins doesn't begin to do it justice.

Don't see it if You're looking for completely staged productions. This is Encores! Though it was staged more than some.

Masterful, Great singing, Great acting, Edgy, Epic

See it if you want to see a group of pros really knock a great show out of the park. Victoria Clark was the stand out.

Don't see it if You are easily offended.

Thought-provoking, Riveting, Intelligent, Great singing, Great acting

See it if You like Sondheim, contemporary & relevant themed theatre, a near perfect cast of singing actors

Don't see it if You want a light and fluffy evening of theater, would rather not travel to the dark side of things

Masterful, Intelligent, Great writing, Great acting, Great singing

See it if you like an A+ cast performing the work of A+ writers in an original and unique musical that is both historical yet completely relevant

Don't see it if you need big, flashy sets and costumes, hate history, hate originality, hate clever lyrics and strong performances.

Intelligent, Absorbing, Great singing

See it if You want to see top-flight performers in one of Sondheim's lesser known/presented productions, and a reverie on a thread of our history.

Don't see it if You don't like Sondheim, or the theme upsets you.

Great writing, Great singing, Great acting, Delightful, Clever

See it if you have an interest in lesser known works by Stephen Sondheim performed by a dream cast

Don't see it if you dislike Sondheim, or musicals that do more than just entertain

Also Excellent production with a dream cast. The Enc ores minimalist stagin... Read more Read less

Great singing, Great acting, Must see, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if you are a fan of the show or any member of this superb cast, and if you like theatre that makes you think.

Don't see it if you prefer classic, happy musicals, you prefer your theatre less politically-charged

Also A near-flawless concert production with a stellar cast (exception: Eth... Read more Read less

Epic, Resonant, Thought-provoking, Edgy, Absorbing

See it if You love edgy irreverent shows with a great cast

Don't see it if you are easily offended or a Trump supporter

Relevant, Great singing

See it if You enjoy the cast and Sondheim.

Don't see it if You want a more polished production.

Great staging, Great singing, Great acting, Entertaining, Delightful

See it if You love Sondheim, and you want a fresh new take on Assassins. And, if you want a stellar cast, this is your show.

Don't see it if You can't find humor in dark places.

Complex, Dark, Hilarious, Great singing, Clever

See it if You want to see a lesser known and very underappreciated Sondheim musical. You want to see the other, very funny side of Victoria Clark.

Don't see it if You want a classic musical. You don't like murder. You don't like dark humor.

Masterful, Relevant, Resonant, Great writing, Great acting

See it if you have ever liked Sondheim or other brainy writers or great singing or want to see a brilliant expansion of what musical theater can be.

Don't see it if you want something light-hearted or empty-headed, or a fully staged production. This is bitterly serious but also hysterically funny.

Great singing, Imaginative, Resonant, Intelligent, Clever

See it if Brilliant wicked Sondheim that evokes laughter tears and awe at the talent on stage and the brilliance of the book and score re assasins

Don't see it if You must see gorgeous cast especially Steven Pasquale as Booth, Victoria Clarke as Sara Jane Moore and Shuler Hensley as Czolgosz

Profound, Relevant, Great acting, Ambitious, Exquisite

See it if you enjoy political theatre that isn't upfront about it

Don't see it if you want to see a fully staged production

Cast & Creatives (22)