Ray of Light Theatre likes to take risks. Last year they presented the uproarious West Coast premiere of Jerry Springer, the Opera and now they're back with Stephen Sondheim (music & lyrics) and John Weidman's (book) Assassins. As directors Jason Hoover and David Moschler note in the program, Assassins is about failing to achieve the American Dream and how individuals desperately strike out against the dream in the midst of their failures in an attempt to connect with other people in some way that forces others to pay attention to them.
Within its 90 minutes are a lot of complex ideas unfolding among the carnage and comedy and the troupe does an excellent job of creating juxtapositions onstage that bring those ideas vividly to life. It becomes crowded, with 14 or 15 people on the small stage of the Eureka theater at some points (plus the musicians), with everything overflowing into the carnivalesque by the end of the show. The strong cast (unfortunately miked) gives their all to what is in all likelihood the most unlikely group of historical figures to ever appear in a play together (John Wilkes Booth and Squeaky Fromme, just to get started). By the time the entire ensemble gathers onstage for the final reprise of "Everybody's Got the Right" Assassins succeeds in making us re-think who these people were and what motivated them to grab a gun and point it at a President. That's no small feat, and will definitely give you something to talk about after the show.
Assassins runs through June 25th at the Eureka Theater. Tickets are available on the ROLT website, though you may want to keep an eye out for them on Goldstar.
Before the show, Isabella and I had dinner at Credo, which, as usual, was delicious and we appreciated their flexibility with our fluctuating party.