Sondheim’s ‘Assassins’: dark side of the American dream plays at the Gate

Now at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, the multi-award-winning musical Assassins lays bare the lives of nine people who assassinated (or tried to assassinate) the President of the United States.


Based on the true stories of real individuals, Assassins puts the spotlight on nine outsiders usually confined to the footnotes of history.


A musical romp through the dark side of the American dream, Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins is now playing at the Gate. Best known for musicals like Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music and Into The Woods, Sondheim brings his signature blend of stunningly intelligent lyrics and beautiful music to this darkly funny musical about a band of outsiders pursing their version of the American dream.

[Book tickets for Assassins in the Gate Theatre now]

Based on the stories of real individuals, Assassins puts the spotlight on nine outsiders often confined to the footnotes of history.

John Wilkes Booth

A well-known actor in his day, and a member of the Virginia militia, Booth was involved in a failed conspiracy to kidnap Abraham Lincoln. Frustrated at seeing the kidnapping plot foiled, Booth slipped into the President’s box at Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC on April 14th 1865 and assassinated Lincoln.

Sam Byck

Convinced  that the government conspired to oppress the poor in the United States, Byck acted on his plan to hijack a commercial airliner and crash it into Nixon’s White House, storming a Delta Airlines flight at Baltimore-Washington airport and shooting the pilot and co-pilot.

Leon Czolgosz

Leon was one of seven children born to poor immigrant parents. Angry at the inequality he saw in society, Czolgosz took aim at President William McKinley in September 1901. 

Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme  

A devoted member of Charlie Manson’s Family, Lynette Fromme carried out a bungled attempt to assassinate President Gerald Ford in Sacramento in 1975. 

Charles Guiteau

After declining his request to be appointed Ambassador to France, President Garfield was shot twice by Charles Guiteau after only four months in office. Guiteau claimed he was legally but not medically insane at the time of the shooting and was dismayed to be found guilty.

John Hinckley Jr

Obsessed with the film Taxi Driver, and particularly its young star, Jodie Foster, Hinckley decided to kill President Reagan in an effort to win her over. When he was arrested at the scene of the attempted assassination, Hinckley explained that the shooting as an ‘unprecedented demonstration of  love’. 

Sara Jane Moore

Just 17 days after Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme's failed assassination of President Ford, Sarah Jane Moore made her own attempt on Ford’s life in hopes of ‘triggering a revolution’. Moore was standing 40 feet away from the President when she fired a single shot, narrowly missing her target.

Lee Harvey Oswald

Perhaps the most infamous of all, Oswald’s 1963 assassination of JFK plunged the US into turmoil. Decades later conspiracy theories continue to abound. Oswald himself never made it to trial – on his way to the county jail he was shot and killed.

Giuseppe Zangara

Driven mad by a constant pain in his abdomen, Zangara believed the President of the United States was the cause of his discomfort. On February 15, 1933, he took a shot at Franklin Roosevelt. After firing the first shot, a woman jostled his arm and he fired five more shots wildly, missing the President-Elect but fatally wounding Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak. 

This group of the nation's most notorious assassins gather on stage at the Gate in this bold, original and alarmingly funny musical. Once described as 'the most shocking mainstream musical ever written', Sondheim weaves dark historical events with hummable musical numbers and bleak humour with laugh-out-loud hilarity. This is a musical quite unlike any other.

The production is directed by the Gate’s artistic director, Selina Cartmell, and it is the sixth show in her inaugural The Outsider Season. Cathal Synnott acts as musical director. Cast includes: Rory Corcoran, Muiris Crowley, Brian Gilligan, Kate Gilmore, Dan Gordon, Ger Kelly, Andrew Linnie, Aoibhéann McCann, Ruth McGill, Sam McGovern, Helen Norton, Rachel O’Byrne, Mark O’Regan, Nicholas Pound, and Matthew Seadon-Young.

Assassins at the Gate Theatre for a strictly limited run:

Tickets are available at: gatetheatre.ie/assassins from €27.

€15 tickets for students and seniors. Group rates also available.

Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by John Weidman

Assassins is based on an idea by Charles Gilbert Jr.

Original orchestrations by Michael Starobin.

Playwrights Horizons Inc., New York City produced Assassins off-Broadway in 1990

First Broadway production, 2004, Roundabout Theatre Company, Todd Haimes, Artistic Director

Performed by arrangement with Music Theatre International (Europe) Limited. 

Acclaim for Assassins: 

**** Pick of the Week - The Irish Times
**** Irish Examiner
darkly delicious ... murderously good fun’ – The Irish Times
On performances alone, this is a memorable production.’ – The Mail on Sunday
hugely entertaining ... vaudevillian comedy at its best.’ – No More Workhorse 
A cracker of an ensemble, all of whom give immaculately slick and energetic performances’ – Sunday Independent