On April 18, Frostburg State University’s (FSU) Department of Theatre and Dance’s production of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” opened with a bang- or several bangs, rather.
“Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” originally written by Alex Timbers with music and lyrics by Michael Friedman, is a punk rock musical that tells the story of former President Andrew Jackson’s life and the controversies surrounding it. The show explores Jackson’s conflicts with the British as well as his involvement in the Louisiana Purchase, the Trail of Tears, and the populist movement.
The fast-paced and loud music captures the angst, anger, and emotion of Jackson as he grappled with balancing his political career and personal life. The musical, which felt more like a rock concert, was a non-stop aural assault from start to finish.
Newsday describes the show as “90 thoroughly audacious, politically savvy, politically incorrect minutes,” and few would disagree.'
The racy production elicited wild laughter from the audience. Crude humor and scandalous actions fill the show. Recommended for patrons 18 years and older, “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” was unsuitable for a young audience. Despite its audacity, several enjoyed the controversial content.
Sophomore art major Alex Nichols stated that the controversial material was “refreshing.” While admitting that the show was particularly racy, Nichols explained “it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I admire the fact that they weren’t afraid to censor themselves.”
Director Darrel Rushton selected the show because it was “really contemporary” and “a fun show.” The appeal to students played a key role in selecting the show. He explained that students would enjoy the humor, action, and the punk rock music, which he described as sounding like Green Day or The Ramones.
Rushton also mentioned that “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” has a “great political message, and it’s very topical,” implying that the themes from the show relate strongly to today’s political scene.
Playing the lead of Andrew Jackson is Matt Merchant, FSU alum of 1997. Rushton worked with Dr. Tom Bowling, Vice President of Student and Educational Services, to bring Merchant to FSU’s stage. Merchant, who now resides in Los Angeles, has acted professionally for over a decade and has credited appearances in “Valentine’s Day,” “Tessa,” and “Hannah Montana.”
The decision to hire Merchant was met with skepticism at first, as the hire would take an opportunity away from FSU students. However, Rushton explained that bringing in Merchant created a great experience for students.
“I think it’s fantastic for Merchant to work with students,” said Rushton. “Our students have had a great experience working and meeting with him.” He explained that Merchant has participated in an award winning theatre company and has a lot to offer aspiring actors and actresses.
“Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” is an exhilarating show with great music, a lot of laughs, and a strong message. The punk rock musical will leave patrons with ringing ears, smiles on their faces, a new perspective of American history.
Remaining performances are on Saturday, April 19, Thursday, April 24, Friday, April 25, and Saturday April 26. All times are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 for general admission and $6 for students.