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Members say: Great singing, Clever, Intelligent, Great acting, Absorbing
14 reviews
137 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 (151)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score


"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


"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


"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

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

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

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


"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


"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

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

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

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

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


“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

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

Great acting, Masterful, Relevant, Riveting, Great singing

See it if you're a history buff and/or you're ok laughing at the slightly uncouth.

Don't see it if you're non a fan of concert-style productions or subject matter that veers towards the more edgy end of the spectrum.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Masterful, Relevant, Resonant

See it if you'd like to see a too-rare performance of one of Stephen Sondheim's most brilliant (and esoteric) pieces.

Don't see it if You don't know the story and how the non-historical characters fit into the plot. The explanation for their inclusion was slightly muddled.

Ambitious, Delightful, Masterful, Riveting, Entertaining

See it if Schuler, Pasquale, and Clarke are Broadway favorites and are terrific. Sondheim meant to provoke conversation which makes it fun.

Don't see it if If you want excellence from entire cast. A few of their voices are a bit weak. How I missed Mark Kushner. Coleman fine to replace Harris.

Absorbing, Relevant, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you don't mind stripped down productions or actors who are not off book

Don't see it if you are not a Sondheim fan or have a problem with gunshots

Clever, Intelligent, Masterful, Relevant, Great writing

See it if you are a Sondheim fan and especially admire his less-produced shows, like an intelligent book that addresses our obsession with fame & guns

Don't see it if You want a cotton candy musical, don't like Sondheim, can't abide shows with loud noises, think killing of presidents not appropriate topic

Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Dated, Great singing

See it if you want to see a production of the show with an all-star cast

Don't see it if seeing shows swallowed whole by City Center will detract too much from the experience

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Great writing

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

Sondheim's quirky killers with a sensational cast

See it if a Sondheim fan's delight. Clifton Duncan a fine Balladeer. Steven Pasquale's Booth was great. Cory Smith was a good Oswald but too handsome

Don't see it if Steven Boyer nailed Hinckley. Erin Markey and Victoria Clark were hilarious. A musical pastiche with clever lyrics

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Dark humor, Great cast

See it if you want to see a worthy staging of this under-produced Sondheim gem. (Though it's too late now. It already closed!) The cast is/was great

Don't see it if you thought the Public's production of Julius Caesar encouraged violence against the president. B/c you sure ain't gonna like Assassins!

Also There were some questionable directing choices but all in all it was a... Read more Read less

Funny, Must see, Indulgent, Great music, Great singing

See it if You like Sondheim, musicals of any stripe, or lyrics. Madcap revisionist scenes form history tickle your fancy.

Don't see it if You want a linear (or coherent) plot; or are uncomfortable with (noncontemporary) political commentary.

Also The words and music are phenomenal. The varied scenes are more or less... Read more Read less

Clever, Intelligent, Relevant, Great writing, Great singing

See it if you've never seen it. Great historical value, fun cultural references and very relevant today. Great singing. A little weird.

Don't see it if he's your president. You are looking for a fun big scenery happy musical. You have never wondered why people choose to be assassins.

Confusing, Disappointing, Dated, Uneven

See it if You are a Sondheim completionist and you have never seen this one before. Some really amazing talent and a couple of not so amazing...

Don't see it if Convoluted, confusing. Long vignette dialogue scenes (which in themselves are funny) that often don't further a plot. Uneven talent.

Also Disappoint to see a boring, insipid Sondheim. Prior knowledge of the f... Read more Read less

Boring, Disappointing, Overrated, Slow, Overly long

See it if You haven't seen it & are a theatre completionist. Pasquale, Clark & Balladeer are standouts.

Don't see it if Very slow & overly long. Story told through vignettes, no character/story development. I was bored & really couldn't wait for it to end.

Also Glad I saw it, I can check it off my list but I will probably never se... Read more Read less

Clever, Edgy, Quirky, Confusing, Great singing

See it if You love everything Sondheim and have a taste for the decidedly weird premise of this show, about wanna be and successful assassins of POTUS

Don't see it if You can't get over that this is the premise and are willing to miss some great singing particularly Pasquale,Duncan,Clark, interesting score

Also This is a tough show to review. I'm quite ambivalent about it actually... Read more Read less

Quirky, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you want to see beautiful voices and watch another great Sondheim and Weidman collaboration. Clifton Duncan as the Balladeer was exquisite.

Don't see it if you need a full production. The Encore series is great because it brings back older shows, but one drawback is they are limited by time.

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if any time a revival of sondheim is produced with quality , outstanding cast Stephen Pasquale as Booth- Victoria Clarke

Don't see it if from first row balcony if you are short, sit back further. Limited run at City Center

Ambitious, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Barebones, Great songs (sondheim!)

See it if you are open to dark musicals. Subj matter & structure are odd, but 2 hours race by. Great singing (Pasquale! Clark!) & historical insights.

Don't see it if you want a full-scale production. Also, space is wrong; even $$$ seats too far. Lipton, who opens, is inept. Still, great dark humor.

Also I was glad I didn't miss this Encores! While the show was not shown at... Read more Read less

Clever, Intelligent, Relevant, Great singing

See it if you want to see a great cast perform a wonderful, underperformed Sondheim masterpiece.

Don't see it if you are put off by the subject matter and minimal staging.

Also I have never seen Assassins and was surprised at how interesting and f... Read more Read less

Weak proprietor lessens effect of great cast.

See it if You are not made queasy by the subject of assassination. You like Sondheim in his dark period. Steven Pasquale lovely throughline to Harvey

Don't see it if If political themes are not for you. If you prefer full scale productions or want to laugh.