Magazine article The Sondheim Review

Assassins: A Chronology

Magazine article The Sondheim Review

Assassins: A Chronology

Article excerpt

Dec. 18, 1990. Original off-Broadway production opens at Playwrights Horizons in New York City and receives a mixed review from Frank Rich of The New York Times, who admires its intentions and many of its songs, but finds the score lacking in coherence, the book "neither funny enough nor serious enough" and the direction without a singular style. Reaction from other critics is mixed to negative.

Jan. 17, 1991. The U.S. and allies begin the Persian Gulf War.

Feb. 16, 1991. Original off-Broadway production closes after 73 performances. Despite sold-out audiences throughout the run, negotiations to transfer the show to Broadway fall apart, presumably due to its weak reviews and a perception that public appetite for the show might be affected by the war.

March 6-7, 1991. Original cast recording is produced.

Aug. 20, 1992. Signature Theatre of Arlington, Va., opens a production directed by Eric Schaeffer for a sold-out run through Oct. 3, 1992. Schaeffer's production gets positive reviews and renews interest in the piece within the creative community. Critical attention for this production begins to establish Schaeffer and his two-year-old company as leading interpreters of Sondheim's work in the U.S. (Schaeffer curated the Kennedy Center's six-show Sondheim Celebration in 2002 and directed two of its productions. He also directed the revue Putting It Together for Broadway in 1999. Signature has mounted 27 productions of Sondheim musicals and revues since 1991.)

Oct. 29, 1992. London's Donmar Theatre opens a production directed by Sam Mendes that runs through Jan. 9, 1993, with 76 sold-out performances. The song "Something Just Broke" is added for this production. Assassins was Mendes' first production as artistic director at the Donmar, a position he was named to at the age of 26. Its widespread acclaim was among his early successes as film and stage director in the U.K. and the U.S. The Donmar becomes a leading producer of Sondheim musicals in the U.K., subsequently staging Company (1995), Into the Woods (1998), Merrily We Roll Along (2000), and Pacific Overtures (2003).

1993-2000. Assassins is frequently produced by colleges, universities and regional companies.

June 2, 2000. A reading directed by Joe Mantello and with a cast including Neil Patrick Harris, Michael Hall, Brian D'Arcy James, Mario Cantone, Stephen Spinella and John Dossett is given by the Roundabout Theatre Company in hopes of a full Broadway production during the 2001-2002 season. …

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