Gun Song: PS Classics to Record Roundabout Revival of Assassins

News   Gun Song: PS Classics to Record Roundabout Revival of Assassins The Tony Award-nominated musical revival of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's Assassins will be recorded for a cast album to be released by PS Classics.

Assassins Balladeer Neil Patrick Harris.
Assassins Balladeer Neil Patrick Harris. Photo by Joan Marcus

The album will be recorded June 7 toward a late July release.

Tommy Krasker, co-founder of PS Classics with Philip Chaffin, will produce the disc. Krasker has produced recordings of Sondheim's Saturday Night, The Frogs, Sweeney Tood live in concert and the recent Bounce. This marks the first time Krasker has worked with Sondheim on PS Classics, the young label devoted to musical theatre and American popular song.

Currently on sale on the PS Classics website is the new Broadway cast album of Fiddler on the Roof in anticiptaion of the June 8 street date.

The Assassins disc will offer what's thought to be the world premiere recording of the song, "Something Just Broke," which was written for the show after the original 1991 Off-Broadway production (the song, about citizens' response to news of assassinations, was first heard in a London staging at the Donmar Warehouse).

Krasker stressed the "new" song wasn't the only reason to record the show. "Philip and I thought the production was extraordinary and exactly the kind of a performance that demands to be preserved on disc," Krasker told Playbill On-Line. PS Classics is distributed by Image Entertainment. Visit www.psclassics.com.

The show's score was previously documented on an Off-Broadway cast recording from RCA that offered expanded orhestrations from what was played on stage in the initial Playwrights Horizons production.

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Turning the Studio 54 stage into the underbelly of a carnival roller coaster — complete with shooting gallery, spinning wheel and unattainable prizes — Assassins began performances March 31 and opened on Broadway April 22 over ten years after its debut in New York.

Tony Award winner Joe Mantello (Wicked, Take Me Out) directs the Roundabout Theatre Company musical revival that theatrically retells the stories of nine individuals who took aim at eight different presidents — the four successful and five attempted assassins. The stageshow filled with song anachronistically weaves together scenes wherein they all interact with one another.

The ensemble cast features Neil Patrick Harris (Proof, Cabaret) in dual roles as The Balladeer — who comments on the action to the audience — and arguably the most infamous assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. Michael Cerveris (Titanic, Tommy) swaggers as the first successful presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth. James Barbour (Jane Eyre, Carousel) portrays William McKinley killer Leon Czolgosz. Denis O'Hare (Take Me Out) cakewalks as the eccentric office seeker/James Garfield murderer Charles Guiteau. Mario Cantone (The Violet Hour) takes on Samuel Byck who threatened Richard Nixon with a 747. Jeffrey Kuhn (Ragtime) plays FDR gunman Giuseppe Zangara. Alexander Gemignani plays the Jodie Foster-obsessed Ronald Reagan shooter John Hinkley. And Becky Ann Baker (Titanic) and Mary Catherine Garrison (Debbie Does Dallas) play Gerald Ford's femme fatale Sara Jane Moore and Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, respectively.

A shorn Marc Kudisch (Thoroughly Modern Millie) is also featured in the cast as the Proprietor, who sets the show in motion and provides weapons and more to the assassins. James Clow, Merwin Foard, Eamon Foley, Kendra Kassebaum, Ken Krugman, Anne L. Nathan, Chris Peluso, Brandon Wardell and Sally Wilfert play a variety of roles in the ensemble.

The score features the songs "Everybody’s Got the Right," "The Ballad of Booth," "How I Saved Roosevelt," "Gun Song," "The Ballad of Czolgosz," "Unworthy of Your Love," "The Ballad of Guiteau," "Another National Anthem," "Something Just Broke" and "Everybody’s Got the Right" (reprise). The new cast album will mark the first recording of "Something Just Broke" which was not featured in the original Off-Broadway run, but later added to the show for the subsequent London run directed by Sam Mendes (Cabaret).

Assassins — based on an idea by Charles Gilbert, Jr. — features a book by Weidman with music and lyrics by Sondheim. Paul Gemignani — who was involved with the original Off-Broadway run at Playwrights Horizons in 1990 — serves again as musical director. Orchestrations are by Michael Starobin. Musical staging is provided by Jonathan Butterell (Nine).

The design team for Assassins includes Robert Brill (set), Susan Hilferty (costume), Peggy Eisenhauer and Jules Fisher (lighting) and Dan Moses Schreier (sound). Hair and wig design is handled by Tom Watson while projections are by Elaine J. McCarthy.

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The original staging of Assassins in 1990 at Playwrights Horizons featured Jace Alexander as Oswald, Patrick Cassidy as Balladeer, Victor Garber as Booth, Greg Germann as Hinckley, Anne Golden as Fromme, Lyn Greene as Goldman, Jonathan Hadary as Guiteau, Eddie Korbich as Zangara, Terrence Mann as Czolgosz, Debra Monk as Moore and Lee Wilkof as Byck. The Jerry Zaks-directed staging lasted 71 performances.

Tickets are available at Studio 54 (254 West 54th Street), by calling Ticket Services at (212) 719-1300 or online at www.roundabouttheatre.org.

<i>Assassins'</i> "Gun Song" quartet Denis O'Hare, Michael Cerveris, James Barbour and Becky Ann Baker.
Assassins' "Gun Song" quartet Denis O'Hare, Michael Cerveris, James Barbour and Becky Ann Baker. Photo by Joan Marcus