Someone tell the story/Someone sing the song" — that someone will be Neil Patrick Harris, taking the role of the Balladeer in the Roundabout Broadway revival of Assassins. Harris took the role in the most recent readings of Stephen Sondheim-John Weidman musical.
In recent years, Harris have moved from TV ("Doogie Howser, MD") to Rent's Mark and, now, into the realm of Sondheim. Recently, he has sung Tobias Rag in several concert readings of Sweeney Todd, including one at Avery Fisher Hall and again in San Francisco. In his program bio, he mentioned the Balladeer as his next assignment. Other theatre roles include Romeo in Romeo and Juliet at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre.
Also in casting news: Denis O'Hare has been offered a role, most likely Charles Guiteau, and Douglas Sills will be playing John Wilkes Booth. O'Hare, currently playing Major Barbara's fiance Adolphus Cusins for the Roundabout Theatre, also appeared in the Roundabout's Cabaret. Sills was Tony-nominated for The Scarlet Pimpernel after assaying touring roles in The Secret Garden and Into the Woods.
A spokesperson from Boneau/Bryan-Brown, representing the show, could not confirm any of the casting.
The 1991 musical, seen in a sold-out Off-Broadway run at Playwrights Horizons, traces the stories of people who killed or tried to kill American presidents throughout history. Darkly comic, Assassins visits forgotten murderers like the wannabe anarchist Leon Czolgosz who killed William McKinley, to the infamous assassins Booth, who shot Abraham Lincoln and Oswald, who killed John F. Kennedy. The assassinations are visited through various ballads: the light Sousa march-inspired "How I Saved Roosevelt"; the lite pop "Unworthy of Your Love," in which Fromme and Hinckley express their devotion to Charles Manson and Jodie Foster, respectively; and the uptempo traditional theatre song, "Everybody's Got the Right to Be Happy," a defense by the assassins for their crimes.
There are also vignettes and scenes where the various killers and attempted murderers come in contact with another. In one scene, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme and Sarah Jane Moore, who will both try to kill Gerald Ford, talk over a bucket of chicken before Moore tries to kill the president. In another, Sam Byk, a crazed taxi driver—who sent taped monologues to various luminaries (including Leonard Bernstein) before plotting to drive a plane into Richard Nixon's White House—delivers hate speech from his cab. In the harshest and most tense scene in the musical, all the assassins before and after Oswald appear in the Texas Book Depository to convince the unknowing clerk that he must shoot Kennedy.
Joe Mantello (Design for Living, Love! Valor! Compassion!) will direct Assassins. Assassins begins performances at the Booth (ironically, named for John Wilkes' brother, the famed actor Edwin) Nov. 1 with an opening Nov. 29.