“Assassins: The Musical” Contextualizes U.S. History in a Sondheim Classic

“Proprietors” Ivy Randall ’25 and Jack Swales ’24 perform alongside “assassin” Sebastian Cynn ’24.

Amina Gorman ’26, Marissa Simeqi ’25, and Kamila Garcia ’25 played the “Balladeers” in Assassins: The Musical.

The Andover Theatre and Dance Department’s rendition of Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning musical “Assassins” debuted over the weekend. The musical followed different successful and would-be presidential assassins throughout history as they revealed their motivations for murder.

Performer Ivy Randall ’25, who played the role of a “Proprietor” in the play, noted the ways in which the research process of the history of each assassin helped create a more realistic performance.

“One of my favorite things about this musical… was in the first two weeks, two and a half weeks before break, we just did research on the history of each assassin, and for me, one of my favorite reasons for being in these shows is the acting part of it, and learning the characters, and the actual historical people. So it was kind of like solving murder mysteries, watching interviews with them… Some of them are even still alive, and kind of watching their mannerisms, their ways of thinking, why they did what they did,” said Randall.

Audience member Ella Kowal ’25 highlighted how, unlike other musicals in the past, the show followed a complex narrative in which each assassin’s story came together to build a plot.

“I would say that this was definitely a more complex storyline. I think with a lot of Broadway musicals, they usually keep the storyline pretty simple, and highlight it more with the songs. But with this, there was definitely more interweaving of different stories, and you definitely had to pay a lot of attention to follow it,” said Kowal.

Performer Simi Gandhi ’24 reflected on her experiences of getting into character, connecting with other performers, and interacting with the audience during the performance.

“So, Lydia Palmer [’23] and I have a scene where we are going back and forth about just really silly scenarios, and we just have a really good time playing on stage, and there are a lot of fake fights, and a lot of jokes to include the audience, and it’s just a really fun time because we feel like we are really able to connect with the audience. And when our jokes land, we get to chase the applause, and it’s just really rewarding,” said Gandhi.

According to performer Iris Guo ’23, during the preparation process, the cast sometimes struggled to put together the various elements of the show, such as the choreography, which was done in a limited time period. However, the teamwork of the cast helped them overcome challenges.

“[Rehearsal] was a lot of running lines in small groups and working with the people you have scenes on… We were definitely on a bit of a time crunch towards the end, ND [Nwaneri ’24] and I were blocking our scene for the first time two days before our first show, but we made it and I was super proud of the end result,” said Guo.