Assassins, the 1991 musical by Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) and John Weidman (book), received a preliminary reading under the auspices of the Roundabout Theatre Company on June 2. If mounted, a New York revival would be the first of its kind since the show ran Off Broadway in 1991.
Sondheim's office confirms a Variety story that outlines Roundabout's lead role in a revival effort that has attracted early interest from the Shubert Organization.
First seen at Playwrights Horizons, the 1991 musical profiles historic and would-be presidential assassins. The original staging, by Jerry Zaks, featured Debra Monk, Jace Alexander, Lee Wilkof, Annie Golden, Mark Germann, Victor Garber, Terrence Mann and Jonathan Hadary. Its run at Playwrights Horizons was a sold-out success, but plans to move the show to Broadway were largely squashed when the Gulf War erupted and producers thought the timing unwise for such a dark, political musical.
Sondheim's office told Playbill On-Line that the June 2 reading had taken place but that there was little else to report, other than the fact that Roundabout had "put the people together."
Roundabout's spokesperson had not returned a call by press time. Roundabout director Joe Mantello championed the reading, which could be produced as early as 2001, the same year that Mantello will direct Noel Coward's Design for Living at the Roundabout. Sondheim's Follies is also scheduled for the coming season.
Featured at the June 2 reading were Neil Patrick Harris (Lee Harvey Oswald), Michael Hall (John Wilkes Booth), Becky Ann Baker (Sara Jane Moore), Lisa Loeb (Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme), Stephen Spinella (Charles Guiteau) and Brian D'Arcy James (Giuseppe Zangara).
Sondheim's office did indicate that "they [Roundabout] are the ones doing it," adding that if it's "fine with the boss," there's no real obstacle to the revival production.
-- By Murdoch McBride