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Assassins

Members say: Great singing, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant
82
Critics
80
15 reviews
Members
82
168 reviews
 

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.

... Read 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.

 

Cast & Creatives (22)



Reviews (183)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
80
Avg Score

70
Newsday

"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

85
BroadwayWorld

"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

75
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

80
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'...it 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

80
Theatermania

"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

75
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

90
Deadline

"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

80
CurtainUp

"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

78
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

80
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

85
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

90
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

80
ZEALnyc

“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

80
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

75
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

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
82
Avg Score

94
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Masterful, 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

79
Ambitious, Intelligent, Intense, Disappointing

See it if you want to see a great show and/or are a fan of Sondheim and/or want to see something political.

Don't see it if you aren't familiar with the show--this production has some problems.

75
Ambitious, Relevant, Great writing, Disappointing, Great singing

See it if you love Sondheim or Steven Pasquale. You're there because you already love an aspect of it.

Don't see it if you're outside of the target audience above. It's a competent but not impressive staging.

84
Clever, Edgy, Relevant, Great casting

See it if you're a sondheim fan, you like a political-fueled musical

Don't see it if you prefer a full staging instead of a concert presentation

65
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing

See it if you have never seen the show before and love Sondheim. You love Victoria Clarke

Don't see it if You have seen the show before or would prefer to wait for a real production that thought for more than two weeks about it.

74
Great acting, Overrated, Great singing

See it if Enjoy the Sondheim score

Don't see it if Wish it to move along as it was very draggy

88
Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, One of the boldest musicals ever created by stephen sondheim

See it if you love Stephen Sondheim musicals.

Don't see it if you aren't interested in witnessing a Stephen Sondheim masterpiece unfold right in front of you.

Also [Side Note: I did NOT see the 1990 Playwrights Horizons production, bu... Read more Read less

70
Disjointed melange

See it if terrific performances from Pasquale and Duncan can make up for the rest of the show.

Don't see it if you need a dramatic reason for these historical characters to interact. The plot is all over the place.

85
Clever, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing, Great singing

See it if you like historical musicals.

Don't see it if musicals aren't your thing.

85
Absorbing, Edgy, Intense

See it if You love Sondheim shows, dark musicals, and history. It's a very intelligent show.

Don't see it if If dark shows make you uncomfortable. It's also not a fully staged production.

92
Absorbing, Clever, Relevant, Great writing, Great singing

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.

87
Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Great singing

See it if you're a Sondheim fan and enjoy dark humor; if you don't mind concert-style staging versus complete sets, and like with raw acting/singing.

Don't see it if you're expecting elaborate staging and sets; you don't enjoy history-driven plot lines.

70
Great acting, Quirky, Great singing

See it if you want to see a Sondheim work that is rarely produced. The cast was great, the score was sung well. Victoria Clark stole the show.

Don't see it if you aren't prepared for weird. I knew the music, but the script is something else. A very unique show...

82
Clever, Edgy, Intelligent, Intense, Entertaining

See it if you're interested in america's history of gun violence and celebrity, or anything Sondheim. It will leave you thinking.

Don't see it if you're looking for an upbeat show with lots of hummable melodies. This is dark and complex stuff.

86
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Great singing

See it if you can't because it closed but it was a good production. I had never seen it; I enjoyed the exploration of motivations of the assassins.

Don't see it if you are offended by the subject matter. It doesn't glorify assassins but you might assume it does. If you don't like Sondheim, don't see it.

90
Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Great singing

See it if you want to see the most unusual Sondheim beautifully performed. It doesn't get better than this.

Don't see it if you don't like Sondheim or you don't want to think

75
Ambitious, Clever, Edgy, Great writing, Great singing

See it if you love Sondheim's score and don't mind missing the flash of a full production.

Don't see it if you are looking for a perfect production. This concert+ staging is interesting enough, but if the score doesn't interest you, sit it out.

92
Edgy, Epic, Great acting, Masterful, Great singing

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.

79
Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Quirky

See it if You love Sondheim or musicals with a historical bent. You can almost see the direct line from Assassins to Hamilton.

Don't see it if You want a full production. This is semi-staged with some sections still on book.

80
Clever, Relevant, Great singing, Unique concept

See it if You are a Sondheim fan and want to see one of his lesser performed shows sung by a talented cast

Don't see it if You need a linear story line. This is more episodic. Also if you don't like dark humor

Also I am a fan of all things Sondheim, so I was excited to see this show. ... Read more Read less

75
Clever, Great acting, Quirky, Disappointing

See it if You're a Sondheim fan who hasn't seen the show / want to check it off your Sondheim list; great cast; you're interested in American history

Don't see it if You're expecting Sondheim's greatest work; you need a linear storyline; you want strong or intricate staging

91
Delightful, Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

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.

79
Funny, Ambitious, Great acting

See it if You love Sondheim, you can think for yourself, and you have never seen the show before.

Don't see it if You are attached to the older ideas about what the show should be.

86
Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful, Relevant, Great writing

See it if You are want to hear one of Sondheim's most fantastic pieces live with a fantastic Weisman script! Amazing material to been seen and heard.

Don't see it if You are expecting a fully realized production. The direction was clearly thrown together for this "concert" staging.

Also The actual group of assassins and the balladeer were fabulously cast! ... Read more Read less

75
Edgy, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if It was great to see this lesser Sondheim work on the stage.

Don't see it if It felt unintentionally slow. The opening song was weak and set a bad tone for the rest of the performance.

Also The City Center Encores shows always frustrate me; I'm sure they have ... Read more Read less