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A musical riff on 7th president strikes a chord

Cate Blouke

Typically, our encounters with revisionary histories veer in the direction of hyper-sensitivity: correcting the racism and xenophobia of earlier times. Typically, these approaches also don't deck out our forefathers in skinny jeans and guyliner.

"Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson," however, turns history into a rock musical and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to our seventh president's questionable legacy. Written in the language of contemporary youth (interspersed with plenty of timeless profanity), Alex Timbers' book and Michael Friedman's lyrics are witty and satirical.

The show looks to the past as a means to comment on issues relevant today: the president as Celebrity-in-Chief, cowboy politics and America's complicated relationship with the rhetoric of populism. After successful runs in Los Angeles and New York, "Bloody Bloody" is enjoying widespread regional productions, with Michael McKelvey directing this Texas premiere.

This isn't McKelvey's first musical rodeo, and he moves his cast around well, offering excellent sight lines. It's just a shame that the Blue really wasn't designed for musicals — the muffled sound quality means a number of the better innuendos get lost, as does the quality of the actors' voices. Fortunately, the show offers plenty of reasons to see it beyond the catchy tunes. Portraying the angst-ridden and bloodthirsty Jackson as an emo rock star, David Gallagher beguiles both the audience and the cast into cheering on his dubious approach to politics. He also seduces us into laughing at some of the more appalling aspects of America's past.

The whole cast is exuberant, infusing the show with all the necessary energy to keep us from thinking too much about what we're laughing at (genocide, bigamy and serious psychological disorders — to name just a few themes). Aaron Alexander, Joey Banks and Sarah Marie Curry stand out for their particular dynamism.

Joe Carpenter's set is cleverly conceived, and Glenda Barnes' costumes are a fantastic mix of contemporary hipster gear and pseudo-period accessories.

"Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" is a strange and hilarious show, offering a reminder that although Jackson attempts to execute his storyteller (Rebecca Robinson), you can't just shoot history in the neck.

‘Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson'