Adam Chanler-Berat

Coat and skirt by Vaquera. Vintage shirt by Yohji Yamamoto. Vintage boots.

Live from New York: Adam Chanler-Berat

Shortly before the legendary Stephen Sondheim passed away in November, he had the privilege of seeing not one but two of his most celebrated shows revived as part of New York's first theater season after the shutdown. While a new gender-swapped version of Company began previews on Broadway, his Assassins was in the first few weeks of its run at the East Village's Classic Stage Company, reintroducing its troupe of presidential murderers and murderers manqués to an America wracked by political violence. For Adam Chanler-Berat, who plays John Hinckley Jr., the erstwhile songwriter who famously shot at Ronald Reagan to win the love of Jodie Foster, the show's probing of our nation's darkest seams has only gained in intensity since rehearsals shut down in March 2020. "I'm very excited to tell this particular story," he says. "January 6 happened after we had been on pause, so the ways in which our show now speaks to that moment and what happened that day and what continues to happen in this country, it reverberates in new and amazing ways as time passes. I think it's just even more relevant now."

A veteran of Broadway favorites like Next to Normal and Peter and the Starcatcher, Chanler-Berat considers himself lucky that his time away from the stage was spent with a steady job, filming the HBO Max Gossip Girl reboot—alongside his Assassins costar Tavi Gevinson, no less. "There was a while where we didn't know what was going to happen with Gossip Girl, but I knew it was going to happen eventually at some point," he says. "That was something in the back of my mind like an insurance policy and I know a lot of people who still have not worked or are moving on and leaving the theater, leaving the arts, because they just can't do it anymore," a reminder that the pandemic's losses include not only lives and livelihoods, but also immeasurable pools of untapped potential and creativity squandered in the face of government and societal indifference.

After months of uncertainty—"The staple of the day was just getting out of the house and going for a walk and seeing a tree or the river because you needed something to mark the day, like you did something," he recalls—Chanler-Berat says that the security of Gossip Girl and the promise of Assassins both helped carry him through the darkest days. "Theater is my home, so to not be able to do that was so painful," he adds. "Just to be in a room with an audience full of people and all of us doing this thing together, I think that kind of healing right now is so necessary for the city. I think we need the arts now more than ever."

Assassins is now playing through January 29 at Classic Stage Company, New York. Read this story and many more in print by preordering our third issue here. See the full Live in New York series here.

Hair by Tina Outen at Streeters. Makeup by Andrew Colvin at Streeters. Set design by Jacob Burstein at MHS Artists. Photographer’s assistant: Kyrre Kristoffersen. Stylist’s assistant: Claire Sullivan. Hairstylist's assistant: Amesha Alston. Makeup artist's assistant: Crisdanil Hidalgo. Set designer's assistant: Casilda Garcia Lopez. Digital technician: Leslie Knott. Production by Heather Robbins at CLM.

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