Everybody's Got the Right


Another Openin’


“Everybody’s Got the Right” from Assassins (music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim)

I’m not going to discuss topicality here, and I do not endorse killing presidents. That said, within the sphere of shows I know, I think Assassins has one of the greatest openings in musical theater. These aren’t characters I should like, but damn it, I immediately do.

“Everybody’s Got the Right” clearly sets up how this is gonna go: we’re going to give these criminals the benefit of the doubt. Sure they’re killers, but they’re people. All people have rights. All people deserve to be happy. We start from there, and then we go into what each of them famously did.

I got to see the 2004 revival of Assassins, and it stayed with me. Every performance was phenomenal. I don’t know if it was my first time seeing Neil Patrick Harris (on stage or TV), but it’s the first I can remember. I was in love with him by the end of that show. Michael Cerveris was great as Booth, but I thought Denis O’Hare would win the Tony for his Guiteau. He was beyond. No shade to Michael Cerveris—he was and is brilliant, and oh my god his performance in Fun Home—but I think having the more notorious character was an advantage.

Any Assassins fans out there? Let me know in the comments!