Mark Shenton speaks to John Weidman, the veteran book writer of Assassins
"You wanna shoot a president?"
Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Tony Award-winning musical about the people who have tried to assassinate American presidents comes to London for a limited 3-week run. Although it was last presented in London only a few years ago, a new political backdrop allows audiences to judge the assassins’ motives in a new light…
Assassins tells the story of the desperate, downtrodden, passionate, ambitious and deluded people who believed that the solution to their problems was to shoot the guy in charge. The presidents killed have been guaranteed a spot in history – all too often their murderers have slipped into obscurity, regardless of the legitimacy of their motives.
From the composer of Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, Follies and Sunday in the Park with George, Sondheim’s charming score goes to dark, bold and hysterical places showing us people who made history by simply pulling a trigger... Following the National Theatre’s sell-out run of Follies and an imminent production of Company at the Gielgud Theatre, this production of Assassins adds another London showcase of Sondheim’s genius to the list. Coupled with a hilarious and surreal book by multi-award winning librettist John Weidman (writer of Pacific Overtures, Road Show, Big, and Contact), this new production is all the more pertinent because of the political context in which it’s being presented.
“When you kill a president, it isn’t murder. Murder is a tawdry little crime, born of greed, lust, or liquor. Adulterers and shopkeepers get murdered. But when a President gets killed, when Julius Caesar got killed... he was assassinated.”
But does that make it right?