The album was recorded June 7 with the original Broadway cast of Neil Patrick Harris (Proof, Cabaret), Michael Cerveris (Titanic, Tommy), James Barbour (Jane Eyre, Carousel), Denis O'Hare (Take Me Out, "Anniversary Party"), Mario Cantone (The Violet Hour, "Sex and the City"), Jeffrey Kuhn (Ragtime), Alexander Gemignani (Avenue Q), Becky Ann Baker (Titanic, "Freaks and Geeks") and Mary Catherine Garrison (Debbie Does Dallas) with Marc Kudisch (Thoroughly Modern Millie), James Clow, Merwin Foard, Eamon Foley, Kendra Kassebaum, Ken Krugman, Anne L. Nathan, Chris Peluso, Brandon Wardell and Sally Wilfert.
The Assassins disc offers the recording of the song, "Something Just Broke," added to the musical for its London debut after the original 1991 Off-Broadway production. The 62-minute, 15-track disc — emblazoned with a print of the carnival like wheel reading "Win! Shoot!" used in the show — also features some of the show's dialogue and a 48-page full color booklet with an intro by bookwriter John Weidman, biographical info on the assassins, a synopsis and complete lyrics wrapped punctuated with production shots.
Among the spoken scenes included are "Ladies and gentlemen, a toast!" (the bar sequence with Guiteau, Zangara and Booth), "What does a man do...?" (the Emma Goldman speech heard by Czolgosz), "I am a terrifying and imposing figure...!" (Guiteau's wooing of Moore), "Have It Your Way" (Byck's diatribe to Richard Nixon) and "Take a look, Lee" (the scene leading up to Oswald's shot).
The complete track listing is as follows:
1. Everybody's Got The Right - 6:32
2. The Ballad of Booth - 8:34
3. "Ladies and gentlemen, a toast!" - 1:03
4. How I Saved Roosevelt - 4:52
5. "What does a man do...?" - 0:51
6. Gun Song - 4:47
7. The Ballad of Czolgosz - 2:44
8. Unworthy of Your Love - 4:29
9. "I am a terrifying and imposing figure...!" - 1:25
10. The Ballad of Guiteau - 5:17
11. "Have It Your Way" - 4:34
12. Another National Anthem - 5:27
13. "Take a look, Lee" - 5:27
14. Something Just Broke - 3:20
15. Everybody's Got The Right - 2:32 *
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 10 years after its debut in New York. The new staging closed July 18 after 101 performances.
Tony Award winner Joe Mantello (Wicked, Take Me Out) directed the Roundabout Theatre Company musical revival that theatrically retold 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 featured Harris in dual roles as The Balladeer — who comments on the action to the audience — and arguably the most infamous assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. Cerveris swaggered as the first successful presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth. Barbour portrayed William McKinley killer Leon Czolgosz. O'Hare cakewalked as the eccentric office seeker/James Garfield murderer Charles Guiteau. Cantone took on Samuel Byck who threatened Richard Nixon with a 747. Kuhn played FDR gunman Giuseppe Zangara. Gemignani played the Jodie Foster-obsessed Ronald Reagan shooter John Hinkley. Baker and Garrison played Gerald Ford's femme fatale Sara Jane Moore and Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, respectively.
A shorn Kudisch was also featured in the cast as the Proprietor, who sets the show in motion and provides weapons and more to the assassins. Clow, Foard, Foley, Kassebaum, Krugman, Nathan, Peluso, Wardell and Wilfert played a variety of roles in the ensemble.
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 — served 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.
The production garnered musical Tony Awards for Best Featured Actor (Michael Cerveris), Best Direction (Joe Mantello), Best Orchestrations (Michael Starobin), Best Lighting Design (Peggy Eisenhauer and Jules Fisher) and the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical.
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.