SpeakEasy has a winner with ‘Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson’
History class was never as much fun as the SpeakEasy Stage Company’s production of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.” The raucous, emo-driven musical shines a new light on Old Hickory while offering an amusing take on the emotional state of politics and politicians across party lines.
The nation’s controversial seventh president is portrayed as a dim-witted child who morphs into a renegade politician after a series of bad circumstances. Each event, from the deaths of his parents at the hands of savages to the untimely demise of his wife, is treated with the same insensitive humor that made “F-Troop” work in the ’60s. And it’s still funny.
But there’s more to “Bloody” than a big, cartoonish spoof with a president in skinny jeans promising “tonight we’re delving into some serious s–t.” Beneath the surface of the satire lies a sensibility that gives Jackson sufficient depth and dimension to explain his elevation to rock star status. You can’t help but feel empathy while rooting for the ultimate outsider getting a shot at changing the status quo.
Gus Curry is the perfect embodiment of this re-imagined Jackson. He’s got the look, the charm and the musical chops to make the populace swoon as the people’s president.
Mary Callanan is the outrageously funny, Croc-wearing, wheelchair bound Storyteller whose narrative holds the show together. Amy Jo Jackson delivers stunning vocals with “Ten Little Indians” and Bandleader Nicholas James Connell has enough talent, charm and stage presence to nearly steal the show.
Like history class, “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson” is about 15 minutes too long, though never boring.
Andrew Jackson does battle with British, Spanish, native Americans and governmental status quo in this emo-rock riot. Though the truth may lie some-where in the middle, this play offers a compelling, thought-provoking look at a complicated legacy.