Assassins [The Broadway Cast Recording]

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
Songwriter Stephen Sondheim and librettist John Weidman's musical Assassins had a long and difficult history before it arrived on Broadway on April 22, 2004, on its way to winning five Tony Awards, making it the most celebrated show of the 2003-2004 season. The show had its first production Off-Broadway in 1991, but did not transfer to Broadway because producers felt its challenging subject matter -- an examination of the assassins and would-be assassins of American presidents -- would not be welcomed by audiences, especially in the wake of the first Gulf War. There was, nevertheless, a cast recording, a London production (for which a new song, "Something Just Broke," ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
Songwriter Stephen Sondheim and librettist John Weidman's musical Assassins had a long and difficult history before it arrived on Broadway on April 22, 2004, on its way to winning five Tony Awards, making it the most celebrated show of the 2003-2004 season. The show had its first production Off-Broadway in 1991, but did not transfer to Broadway because producers felt its challenging subject matter -- an examination of the assassins and would-be assassins of American presidents -- would not be welcomed by audiences, especially in the wake of the first Gulf War. There was, nevertheless, a cast recording, a London production (for which a new song, "Something Just Broke," was written), and, over the next decade, a series of amateur and professional productions before a Broadway staging was arranged for the fall of 2001. That was postponed in the wake of 9/11 when, again, the country's mood was deemed unsuitable. But finally, in a presidential election year, Assassins finally got to Broadway for a successful, if limited run, accompanied by another cast recording. Thirteen years later, though, it has not changed much. It still asks more questions than it answers. Sondheim's music borrows from folk music, John Philip Sousa marches, and, in the ballad "Unworthy of Your Love," sung by Reagan assailant John Hinckley (Alexander Gemignani) and Ford stalker Squeaky Fromme (Mary Catherine Garrison), from '70s adult contemporary pop; his lyrics are characteristically witty. John Wilkes Booth (Michael Cerveris) dominates the proceedings and is viewed as typical of the assassins. He speaks and sings passionately, explaining his motives for killing Lincoln, a twisted logic that the Balladeer (Neil Patrick Harris) aptly sums up, "What he was was off his head." So, it seems, were the other assassins, whether they were anarchists like Leon Czolgosz (James Barbour), who killed McKinley, or adherents of Charles Manson like Fromme, though they all have their reasons. But the assassins are not simply dismissed as a bunch of dangerous nuts; they are seen as a shadow population of losers left out of the American Dream who sing "Another National Anthem" and by the end they have transformed the Balladeer into Lee Harvey Oswald and convinced him to shoot Kennedy. "Something Just Broke," added to the score near the end, actually sticks out as an attempt to soften the show's themes, as it presents ordinary people reacting to the Kennedy assassination. It gives a sense of the tragedy unleashed by the assassins, but it also diminishes their demented message and makes the listener wonder why they deserved a show at all. The ensemble cast, led by Cerveris, is outstanding on the recording, which is slightly longer than the first one, with different dialogue segments included.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/3/2004
  • Label: P.S. Classics
  • UPC: 803607042127
  • Catalog Number: 421
  • Sales rank: 78,590

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Dennis Anderson Clarinet, Flute, Harmonica, Piccolo, Soprano Saxophone
John Beal Bass, Electric Bass
Paul Gemignani Conductor, Musical Direction
Scott Kuney Banjo, Guitar, Mandolin
Ron Sell French Horn
Scott Shacter Bass, Clarinet, Flute, Piccolo, Tenor Saxophone, E-flat Clarinet
Paul Ford Keyboards
Michael Cerveris Vocals, cast
Phil Granger Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Dominic Derasse Trumpet, Cornet
Merwin Foard Vocals, Ensemble, cast
Sally Wilfert cast
Mark Thrasher Clarinet, Bassoon, Baritone Saxophone
Marc Kudisch Vocals, cast
Denis O'Hare & Company Vocals, cast
James Barbour Vocals, cast
Eamon Foley Vocals, Ensemble, cast
Kendra Kassebaum Vocals, Ensemble
Larry Lelli Percussion, Drums
Mario Cantone Vocals, cast
Nicholas Michael Archer Keyboards
Becky Ann Baker Vocals, cast
Bruce Eldern Trumpet, Euphonium
Alexander Gemignani Vocals, cast
Brandon Wardell Vocals, Ensemble, cast
Anne L. Nathan Vocals, Ensemble, cast
James Clow Vocals
Jeffrey Kuhn Vocals
Denis O'Hare Vocals
Mary Catherine Garrison Vocals
Anne-Lisa Nathan Vocals
Patrick Harris Vocals
Assassins Pit Orchestra Performing Ensemble
Technical Credits
Stephen Sondheim Composer, Lyricist, Book
Philip Chaffin Executive Producer
Tommy Krasker Producer, Audio Production
Joe Lambert Mastering
Tom Lazarus Engineer
Michael Starobin Orchestration
John Weidman Liner Notes, Book
Matt Mahurin Cover Design
Nichole Larson Company Manager
Sean Patrick Flahaven Synopsis
Timothy R. Semon Stage Manager
Jon Krause Stage Manager
Joe Mantello Director
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Assassins

    I absolutely love this show. It's very powerful and thought provoking. I was lucky enough to see it on Broadway during it's short run, and absolutely recommend this CD to anyone who saw and enjoyed the show. For those of you unfamilair with the show, I recommend you familiarize youself with the general stroy line before buying this CD, as it is definately not easy subject matter. I also recommend this (or the 1991 Off Broadway Cast Recording) to any die-hard Sondheim fans out there.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Sondheim is Brilliant!

    I saw Assassins the night before it closed, July 17, and I was stunned. The cast made the show funny, morbid, and brilliant! I think Stephen Sondheim is a genius anyway, but to think that he can still create a good show after all this time is amazing. Michael Cerveris, of course, is a superb performer. Another favorite was Denis O'Hare, as Charles Guiteau. His performance could have easily turned into a stereotype, but he pulled it off so well. But, in all honesty, the entire cast put their hearts into the show, which I think is obvious. My friend and I even met most of them at the stage door and they were all gracious and very nice. I would do almost anything to see the show again, but at least I've got the cast recording.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    AMAZING!

    I first heard of this musical on the tonys. it was amazing although i didn't no much about it. i could pick out some of the assassins but others i was not familiar with

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews