Lock up your prepubescent children because Andrew Jackson is coming to town! Or rather, he came to town last weekend for CMTS’s production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, the not-so-orthodox rock musical that explores the complicated legacy of President Andrew Jackson (probably not appropriate for children under 12). In just six weeks, director Emily Feinstein brought this show to life with interactive staging, attention to detail, a sound artistic vision and, of course, a stellar cast and production team who kept the audience laughing.
The show began by breaking the fourth wall. The cast stared at the audience, which surrounded them on three sides in an arena style set-up. Sam Mickel, CC’14, who played Andrew Jackson, began by first asking the cast, then the audience: “Are you ready?” The 2:00 matinée crowd gave a half-assed yes, because to be honest, they were missing their afternoon naps. However, the cast didn’t let that phase them. In the opening number “Populism, Yea Yea” the powerful ensemble looked like they were having the time of their lives, exerting the pent-up anger of 19th century American citizens. The audience wanted to dance alongside them. The guys looked fantastic in tight black skinny jeans, and the ladies rocked crop tops. The cast was totally in-sync during dances and as a whole, displayed amazing vocal skills in the big group numbers. Chill-provoking harmonies and haunting melodies ran throughout the musical.
Mickel carried the show, not necessarily with high flying notes or impressive dance skills, but rather with his truthful portrayal of a conflicted man. Jackson begins the play as a rising celebrity, but we watch his tragic downfall after he is faced with difficult decisions in his presidency. Mickel accomplished this skillfully.
The 4 person band, lead by Andrew Wright, stood behind the action on the back wall. The band functioned as another character in the show, not an invisible backdrop, and skillfully matched the energy of the actors.
Ellie Beckman, CC’16, gave a hilarious performance as The Narrator, using her power scooter to launch herself into the action of scenes. Sadly, after only a few scenes, Jackson pulls out a pistol and shoots the narrator saying, “I think I can take it from here.” We wish Beckman had been kept alive, as she was certainly one of the stronger links in the show.
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson does not hold back or wait for applause–it keeps offering proposals to the audience until some reaction is evoked. The crude and absurd humor may not have been accessible to everyone, but if you weren’t laughing because you thought it was funny, you definitely laughed out of discomfort.