Composer: Stephen J Sondheim
Composer Bio: Award winning composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim does not consider his musicals to be Broadway Operas but they have been embraced as such wholeheartedly. Blurring the lines between musical theatre and traditional opera, he has written music and lyrics for some of the 20th century’s most important stage works for voice, incorporating both humorous and dark subject matter.

Born into a Jewish family in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Sondheim showed early ability in both music and mathematics. After the departure of his father at age ten, he moved to Bucks County, Pennsylvania where he gained an important musical role model, Oscar Hammerstein II. Watching the success of Rodgers and Hammerstein as a teenager and already guided toward musical theatre he studied piano and wrote scripts and scores during his four years at Williams College, earning him a two year composition scholarship studying with avant-garde composer Milton Babbitt.

Sondheim’s breakthrough came with his lyrics to Leonard Bernstein’s musical West Side Story in 1957. The collaboration's success earned him a multitude of creative partnerships before finally writing both the music and lyrics for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 1962. Recognized as a master of songwriting he went on to win multiple Tony and Grammy Awards as well as an Academy Award for Best Song and the Pulitzer Prize in Drama.
Librettist: Stephen J Sondheim
Other Artistic Personnel: Andre Bishop (Artistic Director)
Original Cast: William Parry (The Proprieter)
Patrick Cassidy (The Balladeer)
Victor Garber (John Wilkes Booth)
Jonathan Hadary (Charles Guiteau)
Terrence Mann (Leon Czolgosz)
Eddie Korbich (Guiseppe Zangara)
Annie Golden (Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme)
Debra Monk (Sara Jane Moore)
Greg Germann (John Hinckley, Jr.)
Lee Wilkof (Samuel Byck)
Jace Alexander (Lee Harvey Oswald)
Marcus Olson (David Herold)
Lyn Greene (Emma Goldman)
Premiere Date: December 18, 1990
Description: Assassins opens in a fairground shooting galley where a murderous carnival game’s Proprietor entices a group of men and women to play. Among them are Charles Guiteau, “Squeaky” Fromme, and Lee Harvey Oswald. The Proprietor promises them that killing a United States President will solve their problems and one by one hands them weapons. John Wilkes Booth is the last to step forward. Each is followed from their history and reasoning to their successful or unsuccessful assassination.

Through stories of historical characters, the complexity and darkness of villainous deeds is written with folk songs, cakewalks, waltz, and Sousa pomp. With subtle illusions of Americanism and a lush personification of the warped American Dream, Assassins probes the complexity of outsider thinking, the sanitized history written by the good guys, and what pushes people to the edge.
Character List (Major): The Proprieter
The Balladeer
John Wilkes Booth
Charles Guiteau
Leon Czolgosz
Guiseppe Zangara
Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme
Sara Jane Moore
John Hinckley, Jr.
Samuel Byck
Lee Harvey Oswald
David Herold
Emma Goldman
Comments: Winner of 5 Tony Awards
Length: 00:57
Total Acts: 1
Chorus: SATB
Orchestration: multiple versions:

originally scored for 3-piece pit band
orchestrated by Michael Starobin for full orchestra
Musical Style: A blend of Civil War ballads, folk songs, spirituals, cakewalks, hoedowns, barbershop quartets, Sousa marches, society waltzes, Broadway showtunes, and soft rock.
Contact: Music Theatre International
Phone: (212) 541-4684
Publisher Web Site:
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001
Tel: 212.796.8620 • Fax: 212.796.8621

Privacy PolicyReturns Policy
© Copyright 1995-2015 OPERA America Inc.