Dean Bryant has directed two of the Hayes Theatre Co’s most successful, defining productions – Sweet Charitywhich launched the Hayes as a venue dedicated to musical theatre in 2014, and last year’s Little Shop of Horrors. 

Expectations were inevitably sky-high when it was announced that Bryant would helm the Hayes’ first Sondheim musical, Assassins, produced by Lisa Campbell. Well, praise be, Assassinsis another stunningly inventive production in which every single element comes together brilliantly.

The cast of Assassins. Photograph © Phil Erbacher

The show is a darkly entertaining, revue-style musical about nine men and women who tried to assassinate US presidents, four of them successfully, for reasons ranging from genuine social grievances to gnawing physical pain to the crazed desire to impress a celebrity or lover, and even perhaps a slew of bad acting reviews. First staged in 1991, it feels utterly timely.

The would-be assassins are disaffected, deluded people who feel they have been sold a lie – exploited, ignored or under-valued when they were promised the American Dream. Not for nothing does Sondheim’s book writer John Weidman have John Wilkes Booth specifically quote Arthur Miller’s Death of a...