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When: Wednesdays, Thursdays, 7 p.m., Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. and Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through Oct. 28 2012
Price: $23-$30
The Shotgun Players have staged a thoroughly entertaining rendition of Stephen Sondheim’s 1990 musical Assassins. Presented as a lively, grotesque carnival, the production trots out a murderous lineup of sad sacks and misguided misfits who fired on Presidents Lincoln through Reagan. The play asks the musical question: “Why’dya do it?” A banjo-strumming balladeer, performed impeccably by Kevin Singer, sings of the nine men and women who got it in their head to assassinate the President. Like a one-man Greek chorus, he sings of these anti-heroes in the genres of country bluegrass, Delta blues, and big-band jazz. Like the musical Chicago, Assassins employs showmanship and razzle-dazzle to comment on the cult of celebrity. Susannah Martin’s winning production mixes side-show freakishness, societal disenfranchisement, and human desperation while tapping the aesthetic of Edward Gorey, Bertolt Brecht, Tim Burton, and Barnum and Bailey. Through October 28 at The Ashby Stage (901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley). 510-841-6500 or
— Erika Milvy


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