BWW Interviews: The Cast & Crew of Generations: A Theatre Company Dish on BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON
Andrew Jackson, that guy on the twenty dollar bill and the United States' infamous seventh president, is alive and well in Houston. Remembered for the Indian Removal Act and initiating what would later be called Jacksonian Populism, this iconic badass president is the central character in Michael Friedman's comedic Wild West rock musical BLOODY BLOODY Andrew Jackson, which is being produced this month by Houston's Generations: A Theatre Company. George Brock, founding Artistic Director for Generations and Director of BLOODY BLOODY Andrew Jackson, assembled a panel of his cast, crew, and creative team to discuss the rip-roaringly raucous show and why you MUST see it!
Generations: A Theatre Company is producing the Houston Regional Premiere of the acclaimed musical BLOODY BLOODY Andrew Jackson as part of their season this summer. What research did you do to prepare for the show?
George Brock (GB): First, I went to my "go to" text for American History, A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn and read up on the Jackson years. Then I researched Populism and various Populist movements and finally a revisited the early years of G. W. Bush's Presidency. I let all that stew around in my brain for awhile and then did some research on the development of the show itself. Finally, I read the script several times and set a framework for all that-then opened up conversation with the other director's and designers. This all took about 6 months. Then I threw it all out and started working with the cast.
JayTee Barbour (JTB) – apprentice company member who plays several roles in the show: I was lucky to have just studied AP US History this last year, so I was able to just crack open my Princeton Review and look over the Jacksonion Era and Populism and Progressive Movements. But, it was also really important for me to look into not only what happened then but how history has repeated itself in modern times, such as parallels between the Corrupt Bargain and Presidential election of 2000.
Kristen Warren (KW) – the show's Choreographer: I read the entire Wikipedia page on Andrew Jackson, as well as the detailed links on the Petticoat Affair, Battle of New Orleans, Trail of Tears, etc. I also did some research on The Populist Movement in general, its basis, goals, etc. I also watched some YouTube video clips of the Broadway show to see what that production looked like.
Tyce Greene (TG) – an actor in the company playing John Calhoun and various other roles in the show: The history from around 1824 and what Jackson did to really try to create his version of what he thought the American people wanted and needed was very interesting. As our director, George Brock, points out vividly, this play is a farce-a story and history with a heightened sense of absurdity that comes from a real place. So, researching the facts of the election history of Jackson and his colleagues helped in finding the realism, and the humor of the piece was able to be added on top of that.
Matt Schief (MS) – the show's Lighting and Projection Designer: I initially started with flags. I wanted to know how many states there were blended with the aesthetic sparseness of the stars we have come to know in our current flag. Then I moved on to rock concert lighting looks, and finally some historic imaginatives, picturing life without electricity.
While being performed in New York, the show garnered a lot of attention for reinventing Andrew Jackson as a sexy, Emo rockstar complete with guyliner. In your opinion, what challenges does this add to accurately portraying the birth of the Democratic Party, the Populist Movement, the Indian Removal Act, and Jackson's relationship with his wife Rachel?