Angsty rock musical tells American history

If a teenage rock band wrote a musical about the life of the seventh U.S. president, you would be left with “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.”

Dramashop’s newest performance takes us back to our angsty, adolescent years of abstract hair colors, studded, black clothes, and heavy “guyliner.”

Many familiar faces grace the Dramashop stage, as well as a mix of new actors and musicians.

The show opens on Andrew Jackson (Domenic Del Greco) as the rest of the cast rushes onto stage, cheering and shouting their support of him in the opening number, “Populism, Yea, Yea.”

In terms of writing, the opening number felt a little strange – the audience doesn’t really know the story yet and immediately afterward the setting goes back to Jackson’s childhood.

The storyline delivers absolutely hilarious dialogue with impeccable comedic timing; it just took a minute for me to figure out what was going on.

“Bloody Bloody” tells the story of Andrew Jackson from his childhood, where his father tells him the Indians are to blame for everything, up to his eventual decision to runfor president of the United States  and the events that follow.

The writers updated the dialogue, which helped to make the story line more relatable and more comedic.

The script leaves no room for mercy and bashes almost every historical figure and group of people possible, including the American citizens.

Michael Hass, a sophomore political science and theatre double major, alternates between Red Fox, a Native American tribe leader who helps Jackson to relocate several tribes to the west, and Henry Clay, a pompous, conniving founding father trying to prevent Jackson from becoming president.

Though the parts are quite different, Hass makes the change seamlessly.

Zak Westfall, a junior theatre and communication arts major, also plays a memorably flamboyant John Quincy Adams with an unnaturally high-pitched voice, heavy makeup and pale pink shirt.

The founding fathers put together one of the more hilarious introductory sequences; however, it was later forgotten once their corruptive character traits shone through.

Aside from Del Greco’s portrayal of Jackson, one of the most memorable roles in the show was Beau Bora’s rendition of Martin Van Buren, who acts as Jackson’s secretary, retrieving calls left and right from The Supreme Court, the national bank and Congress.

While the cast shows that it’s pretty great at making fun of virtually everything, some members also show that they know how to make the switch to being completely serious.

Even though Jackson comes off as a bit of a jerk throughout some of the storylines, he shows a compassionate side when he finds an Native American child left without parents and when his wife, Rachel, is about to die.

He’s also required to show frustration throughout his presidency when it he needs to make a decision and ends up making the “least bad choice,” which leads to the historic “Trail of Tears.”

The musical numbers throughout the show reveal that the musicians, as well as the cast, have quite a bit of talent, although the band was occasionally louder than the lyrics and caused a bit of frustration as I had to strain to focus on what the cast was saying.

The show oddly educates the audience about the history of President Jackson and provides an opportunity to reflect on similar problems that we face as a country. The audience will definitely leave with something to discuss at the bar that night.

However, despite its educational bonus, this is not a show to bring children to.

“Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” continues at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at Dramashop’s theater, located at 1001 State St. It will finish its run Sept. 27.

KHADIJA DJELLOULI

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