'Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson' Rocks History in Lansing
The cast of "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson."
"Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" is a show that, as Peppermint Creek Theatre Company's director Chad Badgero would say, "is going to challenge you... and get you talking."
The 90-minute rock musical, music and lyrics by Michael Friedman and book by Alex Timbers, was first performed in 2008 before it hit Broadway in 2010 and was nominated for two Tony Awards.
Thursday, October 4th marked the opening night of the musical as presented by the Peppermint Creek Theatre Company, and is the first show of the company's 10th anniversary season.
A cast of local actors, including Michigan State BFA student Michael Kolaczkowski in the lead role, brings the story of America's seventh President to the stage in redefined and often revisioned ways. The program includes an insert of references made during the show and whether they are truthful or pure fiction.
Actors come and go on the stage between scenes, depicting new characters with each accent and costume change. A discussion following the opening night performance revealed how the actors often improvised moments in the show and adopted their own takes on what "Man #1" and "Woman #3" did on stage.
The show follows Jackson as a pseudo-Emo rockstar who fights, lies, and kills his way to the presidency.
From populism to the Battle of New Orleans to the Trail of Tears, the rock musical sheds a light on controversial topics of the past whose themes still ring true in 2012.
How the audience reacts to "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" is similar to how Andrew Jackson himself is perceived in history: mixed - at times triumphant, at times despicable. I personally found the show to be hilarious in its depiction of politics, the obsession with power and celebrity.
An audience member did express horror and difficulty in finding the humor in the show, especially in the way it tends to glean over some of the darkest times in America's (and Jackson's) history; but even in those scenes, the actors and direction of the show help us to understand why moments are approached in this particular way.
Standouts include Mandy Fuller as The Storyteller, whose spot-on lisp and pining for Andrew Jackson add their own sweet humor to the show; Chad William Baker as Martin Van Buren and assorted characters, whose giggle as Van Buren is infectious; and the Band - Seth Burk, Ethan Lucas, Yoshihiro Fukagawa, and Louis Rudner - who played on and rocked out despite the power blowing out at the beginning of the show.
If you're looking for a quick-paced (at 90 minutes and no intermission, the show flies by), rocking and revisioned look at the life of America's 7th president, look no further than Peppermint Creek Theatre Company's "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson."
And yes, there will be blood.
The Peppermint Creek Theatre Company is now stationed at the Miller Performing Arts Center, 6025 Curry Lane in Lansing, Michigan.