The Story
Assassins
Music & Lyrics
STEPHEN SONDHEIM

Book
JOHN WEIDMAN

Based on an idea by
CHARLES S. GILBERT, JR.
Originally, the musical is intended to explore the lives of assassins throughout history beginning with Brutus and Julius Caesar, but the creators 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.

PHOTOS
1990 Original Production
2004 Broadway Production
Artworks/ Posters

VIDEOS
Performance highlights from the 2004 Broadway production.

MUSIC
Unworthy Of Your Love
Alexander Gemignani & Mary Catherine Garrison
2005 Broadway Cast Recording

THE STORY

SYNOPSIS

The evening begins at a fairground, with an eerie rendition of "Hail to the Chief" playing in the background. A Proprietor ballyhoos his game - "Kill a President, Win a Prize",as eight figures come forward one by one to chance their luck. We come to realize that these figures are assassins drawn from over a century of American history. They are a motley group, (one dressed in a 19th century overcoat, another as a department store Santa Claus), but each is handed his or her own distinctive gun - the preferred means of ultimate political protest in the United States. "EVERYBODY'S GOT THE RIGHT", the Proprietor declares. Everybody's got the right to their dreams...don't they?

The final assassin to arrive is their "founder": John Wilkes Booth. Booth promptly uses his newly-acquired weapon on President Lincoln and as the fatal shots ring out, the Balladeer steps out to sing THE BALLAD OF BOOTH After the shooting, wounded and hiding inside a tobacco barn with a former Confederate soldier, Booth is determined to write his version of events: he wants the world to know that he was not a common cut-throat, but a man who did what he did for his country, his people, his very way of life. He slew an over ambitious tyrant - he is Brutus, not Judas. But, even as Booth dies, the Balladeer's banjo ballad returns to point out that, thanks to him, Lincoln is now a martyr instead of just the sixteenth President.

The other assassins are in a bar. "Has Nixon been in?" asks Samuel Byck, still wearing his Santa suit. But it seems not. Booth is back, though, just in time to hear Giuseppe Zangara complaining about how nothing seems to relieve the pain in his stomach. Booth suggests shooting FDR. "Will it help?" asks Zangara. But Zangara's attempt misfires and he kills, instead, Mayor Cermak of Chicago. Grouped around the radio microphones in Miami's Bayfront Park, a handful of bystanders boast, over the strains of a Sousa march, of HOW 1 SAVED ROOSEVELT, taken from actual quotes of witnesses of the attempt. All the while, trapped into the electric chair, Zangara insists he is neither left nor right, only an "American nothing". The song ends with his high note as the current is switched on.

Forty years later, in the mid-Seventies, Sara Jane Moore and Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme meet up over a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, discuss the evils of fast food and end up taking pot shots at the graven image of Colonel Sanders. Neither is very good with a gun, but at least they have one. "It takes a lot of men to make a gun," says Leon Czolgosz, a lumbering glass-factory worker contemplating the significance and power of his weapon. In THE GUN SONG, Czolgosz, Moore, Booth and Charles Guiteau identify, in barbershop harmonies, the advantages of firearms: all you have to do is move your little finger and you can change the world. The others wander off, leaving Czolgosz alone to consider what he should do. He is an admirer of the anarchist agitator Emma Goldman and, after one of her meetings, she suggested that he might like to visit the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo. He does, and the Balladeer takes up the story in THE BALLAD OF CZOLGOSZ. As President McKinley shakes hands with visitors to the Exposition, Czolgosz wraps his gun in a handkerchief, joins the President's excited admirers and kills Big Bill. 1n the USA, you can work your way to the head of the line".

Back to the Seventies: Samuel Byck, an out-of-work tyre salesman, has hatched a bold scheme to kill President Nixon and is explaining it, via his cassette machine, to Leonard Bernstein, the busy conductor and composer. "Maybe if you can't listen now," suggests Byck, aware of the pressures on the maestro's time, "you can listen 'Tonight, tonight . . .' 1 love that song". His message completed, he leaves singing "Everything's great in America . . ."

John Hinckley also enjoys singing, but only his own compositions, angrily accompanied on his acoustic guitar. "I am UNWORTHY OF YOUR LOVE", he admits in an overwrought ballad addressed to his "girlfriend", Jodie Foster. Lynette Fromme watches and then delivers her own version of the number, addressed to her lover (and the new Messiah) Charles Manson. But Hinckley blows his opportunity to prove his worthiness to Jodie when he starts shooting unsuccessfully at a photo of President Reagan that is projected on to the back wall. The President just keeps wisecracking his way through the bullets - and, hey, where'd that guy learn to shoot anyway? The Russian army?

Charles Guiteau has better luck. In 1881, he meets President Garfield at the Baltimore and Potomac station in Washington and asks to be made Ambassador to France. Garfield ignores him and is fatally shot in the back. Failed lawyer, preacher, politician and author, Garfield's killer is looking forward to being an angel and, in THE BALLAD OF GUITEAU (I AM GOING TO THE LORDY), cakewalks up and down the gallows steps with irrepressible cheerfulness.

Before his assassination of Garfield and execution, Guiteau had given Sara Jane Moore some lessons in how to shoot up her Kentucky Fried Chicken more accurately. But they don't seem to have paid off. Trying now to shoot President Ford, she kills her dog instead. And she got all her dates mixed up, so she had to bring the kid along and he's screaming for an ice-cream and Lynette is screaming at her for bring the kid and the dog to an assassination. "Look, we came here to kill the President", shrieks Moore. "Let's just kill him and go home". Enter President Ford, who trips on the bullets she's dropped, very considerately hands them back to her and proceeds on his way as Moore and Fromme pull their triggers helplessly behind him.

After Sam Byck's abortive mission to crash an airliner into the White House, he and the seven other assassins come together to explain their motives: one did it to avenge the ravaged South, another so her friends would know where she was coming from. Now, they want their prizes. For the first time, they are no longer freakish, embittered, angry individuals but a group with a common purpose, marching to ANOTHER NATIONAL ANTHEM - not the one you cheer at the ballpark, but the anthem of those who can't get in. As the march dies away, the Blue Ridge Boys play Heartache Serenade, and we're listening to a transistor radio in the sixth floor storeroom of the Texas School Book Depository on 22 November 1963. On the verge of taking his own life, Lee Harvey Oswald is interrupted by Booth and the other assassins, and invited instead to make history. The assassins who preceded Oswald say he will bring them back; those who came after him say he will make them possible, by once again making assassinations a part of the American experience. His act can give them historical power as a united force, not as a bunch of isolated "nuts". Oswald refuses and Booth entices him with the statement that when Hinckley's room is searched after his assassination attempt on President Reagan, every book written about Oswald will be found. Through the window, flags are flying, bands are marching to patriotic tunes, the President's motorcade is about to pass by the cheering crowds. 1n here, this is America, too", says Booth - the land where any kid can grow up to be President, or grow up to kill a President. Oswald picks up his gun and moves to the window. As President Kennedy dies, his assassin takes his place among his confreres in the last empty booth at the carnival. He has brought them back, he has made them possible, and, for those ordinary Americans, who'll always remember where they were when they heard the news, SOMETHING JUST BROKE. Their despair stands in quiet contrast to the jaunty reprise of their theme, EVERYBODY'S GOT THE RIGHT ... to their dreams. And, as in all the happy endings in all the best musicals, your dream can come true if you just go out and get it.




THE ASSASSINS

John Wilkes Booth - Assassinated President Abraham Lincoln (April 14, 1865)

Charles Guiteau - Assassinated President James Garfield (July 2, 1881)

Leon Czolgosz - Assassinated President William McKinley (September 6, 1901)

Giuseppe Zangara - Attempted to assassinate President Franklin Roosevelt (February 15, 1933)

Lee Harvey Oswald -[Allegedly] assassinated President John F. Kennedy (November 22, 1963)

Samuel Byck - Attempted to assassinate President Richard M. Nixon (February 22, 1974)

Lynette "Squeaky" Frome - Attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford (September 5, 1975)

Sara Jane Moore - Attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford (September 22, 1975)

John Hinckley Jr. - Attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan (March 30, 1981)

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CAST & CREATIVES
Creative
Producer THE ROUNDABOUT THEATRE COMPANY
Direction JOE MANTELLO
Choreography JONATHAN BUTTERELL
Orchestrations MICHAEL STAROBIN
Musical Director PAUL GEMIGNANI
Scenic Design ROBERT BRILL
Costume Design SUSAN HILFERTY
Lighting Design JULES FISHER & PEGGY EISENHAUER
Sound Design DAN MOSES SCHREIER
Cast
Proprietor MARC KUDISCH
Balladeer NEIL PATRICK HARRIS
John Wilkes Booth MICHAEL CERVERIS
Lee Harvey Oswald NEIL PATRICK HARRIS
Leon Czolgosz JAMES BARBOUR
Samuel Byck MARIO CANTONE
John Hinckley ALEXANDER GEMIGNANI
Giuseppe Zangara JEFFREY KUHN
Charles Guiteau DENIS O'HARE
Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme MARY CATHERINE GARRISON
Sara Jane Moore BECKY ANN BAKER
Creative
Direction SAM MENDES
Orchestrations MICHAEL STAROBIN
Musical Director JEREMY SAMS
Scenic Design ANTHONY WARD
Costume Design ANTHONY WARD
Lighting Design PAUL PYANT
Sound Design JOHN A. LEONARD
Cast
Proprietor PAUL BENTLEY
Balladeer ANTHONY BARCLAY
John Wilkes Booth DAVID FIRTH
Lee Harvey Oswald GARETH SNOOK
Leon Czolgosz JACK ELLIS
Samuel Byck MARIO CANTONE
John Hinckley MICHAEL CANTWELL
Giuseppe Zangara PAUL HARRHY
Charles Guiteau HENRY GOODMAN
Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme CATHRYN BRADSHAW
Sara Jane Moore LOUISE GOLD
Creative
Producer PLAYRIGHTS HORIZONS
Direction JERRY ZAKS
Choreography DJ GIAGNI
Orchestrations MICHAEL STAROBIN
Musical Director PAUL GEMIGNANI
Scenic Design LOREN SHERMAN
Costume Design WILLIAM IVEY LONG
Lighting Design PAUL GALLO
Sound Design SCOTT LEHRER
Cast
Proprietor WILLIAM PARRY
Balladeer PATRICK CASSIDY
John Wilkes Booth VICTOR GARBER
Lee Harvey Oswald JACE ALEXANDER
Leon Czolgosz TERRENCE MANN
Samuel Byck LEE WILKOF
John Hinckley GREG GERMANN
Giuseppe Zangara EDDIE KORBICH
Charles Guiteau JONATHAN HADARY
Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme ANNIE GOLDEN
Sara Jane Moore DEBRA MONK
MUSICAL NUMBERS
THE SONGS

Everybody's Got the RightProprietor, Leon Czolgosz, Charles Guiteau, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, Samuel Byck, John Wilkes Booth, Giuseppe Zangara, John Hinckley and Sara Jane Moore
The Ballad of Booth Balladeer and John Wilkes Booth
How I Saved Roosevelt Giuseppe Zangara and Ensemble
Gun SongLeon Czolgosz, John Wilkes Booth, Charles Guiteau and Sara Jane Moore
The Ballad of Czolgosz Balladeer and Ensemble
Unworthy of Your Love John Hinckley and Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme
The Ballad of Guiteau Charles Guiteau and Balladeer
Another National Anthem Proprietor, Leon Czolgosz, John Wilkes Booth, John Hinckley, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, Giuseppe Zangara, Sara Jane Moore, Charles Guiteau, Samuel Byck and Balladeer
Something Just Broke Ensemble
Everybody's Got the Right (Reprise) Sara Jane Moore, Samuel Byck, Leon Czolgosz, Giuseppe Zangara, Lynette "Squeaky'' Fromme, John Hinckley, Lee Harvey Oswald, Charles Guiteau and John Wilkes Booth

Heathers: The Musical
Once Upon A Mattress
The Wild Party (Lippa)
SIGHTS & SOUNDS

1990 Original Production
2004 Broadway Production
Artworks/ Posters

Performance highlights from the 2004 Broadway production.
Michael Cerveris and Neil Patrick Harris lead the 2004 Broadway cast in a performance of 'Everybody's Got the Right' at the Tony Awards.

Everybody's Got The Right William Parry & Cast Original Cast Recording
Unworthy Of Your Love Alexander Gemignani & Mary Catherine Garrison 2005 Broadway Cast Recording
rufieo1974 rufieo1974

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