I saw Assassins, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by John Weidman, on Broadway at Studio 54 on July 13, 2004. It was my third Sondheim show (counting Gypsy and a really bad community production of Passion) and put me well on the road to becoming a Sondheimite. It sounds like a morbid almost disgusting idea, but it was one of the most clever, most entertaining and certainly most thought provoking productions I've ever seen.
The original production of Assassins opened off-Broadway on December 18, 1990 at Playwrights Horizons. The 2004 Broadway production at Studio was technically a revival. It won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Michael Cerveris won the Tony Award Best Featured Actor in a Musical. Joe Mantello won for Direction, Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer won for Best Lighting Design, and Michael Starobin won for Best Orchestrations.
Assassins looks at the history of presidential assassination. The characters are based on real-life presidential assassins and would-be assassins including the most famous John Wilkes Booth (Lincoln), Lee Harvey Oswald (Kennedy) and John Hinckley (Reagan) to the lesser known Sara Jane Moore (Ford), Leon Czolgosz (McKinley), Samuel Byck (Nixon), Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme (Ford), Giuseppe Zangara (FDR), and Charles Guiteau (Garfield).
If you've seen or heard Assassins, then you know one of the funniest "characters" is Sara Jane Moore. She was originally played by Debra Monk and on Broadway by Becky Ann Baker. Sara Jane attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford in September, 1975. Now, after 34 years, the real Sara Jane Moore has been released from prison and is talking. She was interviewed on the Today Show yesterday morning. Hopefully, she'll stay away from sales, gun, not shoe...and maybe she'll catch a local production in her town, wherever that may be.