BWW Reviews: BLOODY, BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON
Street Theatre Company has got a controversial, but fantastic show on their hands in their most recent production. Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson is not your average musical. In fact, it's not a show I'd take just anyone to see. Kids... nope. Your grandma.... Unless she's really, really cool, probably not. That being said, I could recommend this show to a wide group of people, some of them being people that I wouldn't normally suggest taking to a show.
This ninety minute rock musical, written by the great Alex Timbers, with music & lyrics by Michael Friedman, is one of a kind. It's history at its best...and worst. I hesitate to call it satire, but in a way it is. It's a harsh, satirical look at the youth and presidency of Tennessee's own Andrew Jackson. It looks at the things that are rarely mentioned in textbooks. In fact, Street Theatre Company just a few miles from Andrew Jackson's home, The Hermitage. Perhaps that makes the show even more intriguing to local audiences.
Street Theatre Company's production is directed by Jason Tucker (with musical direction by Rollie Manis) and stars Geoff Davin as Andrew Jackson. The story starts with Andrew Jackson as a young child and advances through his life, meeting Rachel, the Louisiana Purchase, his first (failed) run for President, and his controversial Presidency when he finally DID win.
In spite of all the heaviness of the content, it's presented in such a way that the audience spends the entire time laughing. That, in itself, is amazing. Davin plays a convincing Andrew Jackson. He makes you like Jackson, even when you know you should hate him. Pity Jackson, when you know you should think that he's getting what he deserved. There were some other amazing standouts in the cast, including Savana Garnick, who played Rachel Jackson, Bryce Conner, who played Black Fox, and Morgan Lamberth who played the Storyteller. And truth be told, the entire cast was amazingly talented and spot on in their comedic timing and acting.
Songs like "Populism, Yea, Yea!" and "I'm Not That Guy" are the rock songs that make the show fun. Songs like "Ten Little Indians" and "The Corrupt Bargain" make the show funny. Days after the show, I still find myself humming "Populism, Yea, Yea!" at some of the strangest moments.
Some of my favorite things about the show were the set and costuming designs. Designed by Caleb Burke, he set is pretty amazing. The flooring is rustic looking and has several different levels. The walls have pictures of past Presidents all over them. The band sits at the back of the stage, and even spends some of the time pitching in at the show. Musical director (and the one playing the keyboard), Rollie Manis even has a few lines and lyrics in the show itself. The costumes are all pretty hilarious. Costume designer Teresa Oduor created costumes that are historical with a modern twist. That's the only way I can think to describe them. Between these two aspects of the show, and the lighting (by Brandon Webb), you feel like you're in a rock concert a majority of the time.
Street Theatre Company certainly has taken a risk, and I believe it's paid off. A show like Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson is for a different type of audience. If you're one that likes the edgy, and enjoys a comical look at the darker side of history, you'll thoroughly enjoy this production. If you have friends or family members who "hate" musicals...this might be the show to change their minds.
You've got one more weekend to catch the show. It plays through March 23rd and tickets can be purchased on their website.