Shotgun Players interrupts this season of dreary electoral debates with an important announcement about the country you live in, as the sure and provocative 1990 musical by Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) and John Weidman (book) stitches together American history's odd assortment of successful and failed presidential assassins to explore the darker recesses of the national mythos. Through an eclectic score of deft period-specific songs and the narrative framework of a feverish carnival shooting gallery — overseen by a nefarious proprietor (Jeff Garrett) — a pageant of kooks and rebels parades, beginning with pioneer assassin John Wilkes Booth (an aptly imposing Galen Murphy-Hoffman). He, in turn, acts as a sort of patron saint to those that follow in his footsteps — including Charles Guiteau (Steven Hess), Leon Czolgosz (Dan Saski), Giuseppe Zangara (Aleph Ayin), John Hinckley (Danny Cozart), Sam Byck (Ryan Drummond), Sara Jane Moore (Rebecca Castelli), Squeaky Fromme (Cody Metzger), and of course Lee Harvey Oswald (Kevin Singer, in a part that doubles with that of the Balladeer). Throughout, director Susannah Martin's strong cast and musical director David Möschler's lively eight-piece band insure a raucous, thoughtful, and intimate American fever dream. (Avila)

  Shotgun Players | 1901 Ashby Avenue | Berkeley, CA 94703 | 510-841-6500