Show History



Assassins is based on an idea by Charles Gilbert, Jr. Shortly after he finished graduate school, Gilbert began to work on a musical that incorporated the words and lives of the individuals who had tried, with or without success, to kill an American President. He was drawn to the passionate intensity of the characters and the ways in which their extreme behavior could be linked to motives and aspirations which are characteristically American. Gilbert ended up with a piece that had both original and historical material in it. The score included substantial amounts of rock and jazz as well as pastiches of music from other eras, and the production incorporated elements of multimedia such as projections, taped narrations, and sound collages. It was produced by Theater Express in 1979 and eventually reached Stephen Sondheim, who developed the idea into the musical we know today.


Assassins features music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by John Weidman, based on an idea by Charles Gilbert, Jr. Assassins premiered in 1990 at Playwrights Horizons in New York City as a completely sold-out limited run and instantly became one of the most talked-about musicals in years. The original cast album, released nine months later, propelled the show into legendary cult-favorite status.

Assassins opened in London at the Donmar Warehouse on October 29, 1992. Directed by Sam Mendes, the production included the addition of a new musical number, "Something Just Broke." The London production closed on January 9, 1993 after 76 performances.

Assassins was originally scheduled for a 2001 Broadway production by the Roundabout Theater Company. However, it was postponed due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A few years later, in 2004, Roundabout went forward with its Assassins revival. The production opened on April 22, 2004 at Studio 54 for a limited engagement.