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The Roundabout Theater postpones its Assassins revival.
September 16, 2001 12:29 PM   Subscribe

The Roundabout Theater postpones its Assassins revival. This was probably the right decision, though for those who know the show--and that might not be many--it happens to address better than most things all the issues our country is currently facing. Check out Sondheim.com where they've changed the page to simple text featuring perfectly fitting lyrics for the moment we're in.
posted by adrober (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks, adrober. I created and run Sondheim.com and Assassins is a very special peice of theatre to me. I'm saddened that the show won't make it to Broadway this season. It's ironic that people won't get to see this show as I think in many ways it's a show the country really should see in these trying times.
posted by MarkBakalor at 12:35 PM on September 16, 2001


The political situation surrounding the opening of the original and the opening of the revival are just plain eerie.

The original production opened on December 18, 1990, roughly one month before Bush Sr officially launched Operation Desert Storm. The show ended on February 16, 1991 after only 73 performances. Though critically acclaimed, Assassins was missed by most primarily due to the nationalist feeling throughout the US--no one wanted to see a musical about Presidents dying during the Desert Storm conflict.

Now a revival is being stopped in its tracks because GW is wrapped up in a conflict in the middle east. Either someone in the Middle East, or someone in the White House, is not a huge fan of Sondheim.
posted by dogmatic at 1:01 PM on September 16, 2001


Attention has been paid.
posted by MarkBakalor at 1:21 PM on September 16, 2001


Anyone who hasn't heard this show before, I strongly recommend you get a copy of the cast recording. It is an excellent piece of work, and like adrober said, terribly relevent.
posted by Dirjy at 1:22 PM on September 16, 2001


Just some ramblings on the importance of this amazing peice of theatre...

One of the fascinating aspects of Assassins is that in an hour and a half it forces the audience to see just how wrong these people were.

"All you have to do is move your little finger - you can shut down the New York Stock Exchange. Shut down schools in Indonesia. In Florence, Italy, a woman will leap from the Duomo clutching a picture of your victim and cursing your name. Your wife will weep. His wife will weep. The world will weep. Grief. Grief beyond imagining. Despair. The death of innocence and hope...."

Assassins isn't negative. Assassins expresses what society feels. Everyone. It shines a light on the futility of striking back blindly. The act of our assassins have surely been negative, to say the least. But the examination of assassins in the musical Assassins helps to understand just what it takes to go to that extreme.

These people who have been behind the evil that has taken place in our country this week, whoever they turn out to be, they practiced their evil for reasons. Whatever these reasons are, be they political, religious, or merely a stomach ache, they hijacked these planes, killed tens of thousands of people including themselves... they did these for their reasons. They thought they would help to fix their problems. And did they? Where's their prize now?

In his book, "From Assassins to West Side Story," Scott Miller points out that the great strength of Assassins, if done as it is intended, is the ability to "make fully drawn human beings" out of the cardboard cutouts we've read about in the footnotes of history books. He goes on to explain the irony of historie's depiction of the assassins with the example of President Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth, "This is not a madman. [Booth] is a man who loves the U.S.A. and can't bear to see it divided and its citizens murdered in a bloody war. Many historians have commented that had Booth killed Lincoln two years earlier, he might have been hailed as a hero."

And it didn't mean a nickel.
You just shed a little blood.
And a lot of people shed a lot of tears.
Yes, you made a little moment.
And you stirred a little mud.

But it didn't fix the stomach
And you've drunk your final Bud.
And it didn't help the workers
And it didn't heal the country.
And it didn't make them listen.
And they never said "We're sorry"


In the School Book Depository scene, Booth explains to Lee Harvey Oswald that he has "the power of Pandora's Box..." With one small act, pulling the trigger of a gun, by moving his "little finger" all of the assassins are brought together physically and spiritually.

In "The Assassination of America," Anthony DiSanto describes Assassins as having a moment in which "all of the musical's fragments have coalesced into a chilling vision of trampled dreams and corrupted innocence, of evil reaching out to evil, of that underside of American existence we would all rather ignore standing up and shouting, 'No! I am here, I exist, and I am not going to go away!'" No matter how much you close your eyes, they'll still be there.
posted by MarkBakalor at 1:38 PM on September 16, 2001 [1 favorite]


Thanks, MarkB, for the excellent site, an old favourite, for protesting the knee-jerk cancellation of "Assassins" and for the inspiration.
Stephen Sondheim is a repository of wisdom, beauty and humanity. Reading his lyrics in chronological order(though they aren't all in print)is like reading an inner history of the last fifty years. The fact he is also a musical genius has almost nothing to do with it.
The tragedy, of course, is that children will listen. And repeat all our mistakes.
(Compare with CSN&Y's "Teach the Children Well" to elucidate the difference between vacuous sloganeering and true insight...)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:24 PM on September 16, 2001


I don't think I'd call the cancellation of this season's Assassins production on Broadway a "knee-jerk" decision. Though I don't agree with it, I understand the decision.

Producing a show on Broadway remains a commercial venture. They don't call it show BUSINESS for nothing. In light of this week's events, one would be hard pressed to prove that such a production could be anywhere close to a commercial success. Though Sondheim productions have rarely been commercially succesful, it's easy to see why the decision has been made to table Assassins this season.
posted by MarkBakalor at 2:31 PM on September 16, 2001


The site is available via Google cache. Most links still work.
posted by DBAPaul at 3:31 AM on September 17, 2001


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