The play begins in a fictional carnival scene, but other scenes take place over all different time periods in different locations, such as the Charles J. The theme of Assassins is that violence does not fix problems. Many of the assassins completed their actions thinking that the new president would fix the current Assassins by John Weidman features music written by Stephen Sondheim. Many of the assassins completed their actions thinking that the new president would fix the current universal struggle, relative to the time period of each assassin. Giuseppe Zangara, another assassin, attempted to kill Franklin Roosevelt because Zangara was struggling to feed himself during the Great Depression.

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Synopsis[ edit ] This synopsis reflects the current licensed version of the show. The published script of the Off-Broadway production is slightly different. The show opens in a fairground shooting gallery where, amid flashing lights, human figures trundle past on a conveyor belt. John Wilkes Booth enters last and the Proprietor introduces him to the others as their pioneer before he begins distributing ammunition.

Booth excuses himself, a shot rings out and Booth shouts, " Sic semper tyrannis! The scene changes to Richard H. Booth, mudstained and with a broken leg, is attempting to write his reasons for killing Lincoln in his diary but cannot hold the pen. He forces his associate David Herold to write for him at gunpoint.

In desperation, Booth throws the Balladeer his diary so that he can tell his story to the world. As the Union soldiers set fire to the barn, Booth commits suicide, and the Balladeer concludes that Booth was a madman whose treacherous legacy only served as inspiration for other madmen like him to damage the country. The Assassins gather in a bar. Guiteau toasts to the Presidency of the United States, speaking of his ambition to become Ambassador to France.

Zangara complains about his stomach pains, and Booth suggests fixing them by shooting Franklin D. Hinckley accidentally breaks a bottle, and Czolgosz flies into a rage, describing the horrors he sees in the bottle factory he works in, and how many men die or are injured just to make a bottle like the one Hinckley has just broken.

Guiteau jokingly tells Czolgosz to find another job, and the two begin to argue about the American Dream, with Guiteau defending America and Czolgosz dismissing the "land of opportunity" as a lie. Czolgosz becomes enraged and grabs a bottle, barely stopping himself from throwing it across the room. Booth urges Czolgosz to take control of his fate by breaking a bottle himself, but Czolgosz cannot.

Five Bystanders are interviewed in turn, telling the audience their personal versions of the event; each is convinced that he or she personally saved the President "How I Saved Roosevelt". Peeved that as an "American Nothing" he has no photographers at his execution, Zangara is electrocuted as the Bystanders preen for the cameras. American anarchist leader Emma Goldman gives a lecture from offstage as Leon Czolgosz listens, enraptured. He introduces himself to her and declares his love, but she tells him to redirect his passion to the fight for social justice.

She gives him a leaflet that she tells him contains an idea that is "not mine alone, but mine". As she prepares to leave, Czolgosz offers to carry her bag, to which Goldman protests by saying, "They make us servants, Leon.

We do not make servants of each other. Fromme and Moore meet on a park bench and share a joint. Fromme speaks of the apocalyptic preachings of mass murderer Charles Manson , remembering how they met and declaring herself his lover and slave.

They connect over their shared hatred of their fathers, and using Colonel Sanders as a graven image , they give the bucket of chicken the evil eye and then shoot it to pieces while laughing hysterically.

Moore realizes that she had known Manson in high school, and the scene ends as the women scream in delight over their memories of the charismatic killer. Czolgosz reflects on how many men die in the mines, the steel mills and the factories just to make a gun. Czolgosz decides his gun will claim one more victim: the President. Samuel Byck sits on a park bench in a dirty Santa suit with a picket sign and a shopping bag. He talks into a tape recorder, preparing a message to Leonard Bernstein telling Bernstein he can save the world by writing more love songs, and explaining that he is going to change things by crashing a into the White House and killing Richard Nixon.

Then he accuses Bernstein of ignoring him, just like the other celebrities he has recorded tapes for, such as Hank Aaron and Jonas Salk. John Hinckley sits in his rumpus room , aimlessly playing a guitar. Lynette Fromme enters and tries to convince him to play her a song asking for " Helter Skelter " , but he refuses.

Fromme notices a picture of Jodie Foster , who Hinckley claims is his girlfriend. An image of Ronald Reagan appears on a wall in the back of the stage, and an enraged Hinckley shoots it over and over again, but the picture keeps reappearing. When she rebuffs him, he becomes suddenly enraged and attempts to attack her.

Her gun goes off in his ear, and he backs off, angrily proclaiming that he is extraordinary and will be the next Ambassador to France. The scene changes to a train station, where Guiteau goes to meet James Garfield. He asks to be made Ambassador to France, but Garfield mockingly refuses, prompting Guiteau to shoot him. Guiteau is arrested and sent to the gallows, where he recites a poem he wrote that morning titled " I am Going to the Lordy ".

Moore has brought along her nine-year-old son and her dog which she accidentally shoots , which causes an argument between the two women, who briefly turn on each other. Not recognizing him at first, the two women allow him to help them, but upon discovering who he is, Fromme tries to shoot him, but her gun jams.

Having no other resource left, Moore tries to throw her bullets at Ford, shouting "bang" as she does so. Samuel Byck is driving to the airport to hijack a plane, which he plans to crash into the White House. Growing completely unhinged, he records a message addressed to Richard Nixon , complaining about contemporary American life, how the American public is constantly lied to, and announces that killing him is the only solution. The assassins realize that they will never get their prizes, that no one will ever care if they live or die, and briefly sink into absolute desperation until Byck and the Proprietor lead them in "Another National Anthem," a song for all Americans dispossessed by the dream.

The Balladeer attempts to convince them to be optimistic and seek other ways to be happy, but the Anthem grows louder and louder until the assassins force the Balladeer offstage in the revival and many productions that followed, the Assassins all surround the Balladeer, transforming him into Lee Harvey Oswald. The scene changes to the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository.

The ghosts of John Wilkes Booth , Leon Czolgosz , Charles Guiteau , and the other "would be" assassins including John Hinckley , Giuseppe Zangara , Samuel Byck , Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme , and Sara Jane Moore , appear before a suicidally depressed Lee Harvey Oswald , and convince him that the only way for him to truly connect with his country is to share his pain and disillusionment with it.

Booth tells Oswald that by joining them he will finally make a difference, but Oswald refuses. Booth tells Oswald that the key to the future is in his hands. Oswald tries to leave, but Zangara addresses him passionately in Italian, his words translated by the other assassins, imploring him to act so their own acts can come alive again. They tell him that he has the power to cause worldwide grief and inspire global passion about himself, a man the world has never cared or heard about.

Calling themselves his family, the assassins sing, imploring Oswald to act. He crouches at the window and shoots "November 22, ". After the assassinations, a group of citizens recount what they were doing when they heard that the President had been killed and lament that even though only a single man died, the nation has changed forever "Something Just Broke".

However, in the revised score the lead is sung by the Proprietor. Nowadays, virtually everything goes," he told The New York Times. Awards and nominations[ edit ].



Gilbert had submitted a script about a fictional presidential assassin, and although Sondheim found the play itself problematic, he was fascinated by the peripheral material Gilbert had compiled--letters and anecdotes from actual assassins. Several years later, after obtaining permission from Gilbert, Sondheim decided to tackle the project along with John Weidman, a lyricist whom he had previously collaborated with on Pacific Overtures. Originally, Sondheim and Weidman intended to explore the lives of assassins throughout history beginning with Brutus and Julius Caesar , but they 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.


Bold, original, disturbing and alarmingly funny, Assassins is perhaps the most controversial musical ever written. Assassins lays bare the lives of nine individuals who assassinated or tried to assassinate the President of the United States, in a one-act historical "revusical" that explores the dark side of the American experience. From John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald, writers, Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman, bend the rules of time and space, taking us on a nightmarish roller coaster ride in which assassins and would-be assassins from different historical periods meet, interact and inspire each other to harrowing acts in the name of the American Dream. Assassins requires skilled singers who are also versatile actors. Full Synopsis Materials and Orchestration Concert Selections for Assassins Concert Selections are original Broadway orchestrations and exciting new symphonic arrangements of select songs for use in concert performances.


Audiences were not ready for the message Sondheim and Weidman were delivering. Mar 24, Helen rated it really liked it. Bold, original, disturbing and alarmingly funny, Assassins is perhaps the most controversial musical ever written. Zangara complains about his stomach pains, and Booth suggests fixing them by shooting Franklin D. Giuseppe Zangara, another assassin, attempted to kill Franklin Roosevelt because Zangara spndheim struggling to feed himself during the Great Depression. You can be what you choose Amazon Rapids Fun stories for kids on the go.



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