Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company
Written by Alex Timbers
Music & Lyrics by Michael Friedman
Directed by Paul Melone
Music directed by Nick Connell
SpeakEasy Stage Company
539 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116
October 19 – November 17, 2012
SpeakEasy Facebook Page
Review by Kitty Drexel
(Boston) President Andrew Jackson (Gus Curry) invented the Democratic Party but was infamous for hating the English, the Spanish, American Aristocracy and Native American Indians. The book by Alex Timbers presents President Jackson as an angsty young man bristling with frenetic energy. He loves Populism, his wife Rachel and representing “The Voice of the People.” His hobbies include building the Trail of Tears, guns and erratic behavior. Even though there’s 100 years difference between his era and ours, not much has changed in politics: some political leaders just love a tantrum.
The rowdy cast sets the tone immediately: you are in for a wild, accidentally sexy ride. All of the gentleman are in tight jeans and the ladies in bustiers. They look like extras from an Amanda Palmer music video. Rather than detract, the costumes lend well to the performance. Jackson and his posse walk the hip-hugged punk walk and talk the punk talk. Curry carries the show on both shoulders while sharing the stage with ease. The role of Jackson could overwhelm the production and its cast but Curry is as democratic as his President. There is an ebb and flow to the performance, a give and take uncommon to most productions.
Amy Jo Jackson, Alessandra Vaganek (also Rachel Jackson), and Brittany Walters are excellent as the female ensemble trio. They lend a severity to the performance otherwise missing from the hipster-like antics of the gentlemen with whom they share the stage. In particular, Amy Jo Jackson gives a fervid rendition of “Ten Little Indians” that will put a chill up your spine.
Maturity is literally reigned in by the cast but Mary Callanan as the chipper Storyteller. She tries her damnedest to bring accuracy to the presentation. If she is a historical anthropologist then the cast are a cage of poo-flinging bonobo chimps. More so than the featured political figures, the Storyteller is Jackson’s nemesis. While he plays at saving the country, she reveals his true whiny, violent character.
Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson is 50% rock concert and 50% musical. Nick Connell, Music Director, is in a lucky position to be both an actor and the bandleader. The band is immersed in the the staging and manages the tricky task of playing while simultaneously participating in the ensemble. Their physical and musical transitions are seamless thanks to both Connell and the direction of Paul Melone.
Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson is a musical metaphor featuring an Emo/rock prairie-punk soundtrack fit to teach an absurdist history by a jaded cast to an equally jaded audience. This is a show that revels in it’s own identity as a metaphor and laughs along with the audience. It is an incredibly intense theatrical experience providing much-needed perspective during this 2012 election season. Boston is a hub of political hoopla and the cast seems to be fueled by the fire of not just Jackson’s Democratic genocidal legacy but the fury of the angry American people thirsty for change. This might be a musical set in the style of a younger generation but the heart of its message is appropriate for voters of all ages.