Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is a definitive hit in the spirited rock musical genre. First performed in 2009, with Music and Lyrics by Michael Friedman and book by Alex Timbers, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson takes us on a satirical history ride through the life and times of the 7th President of the United States – Andrew Jackson. The fledgling Little Butterfly Theatre Company, Director Amy Poe, and her lively cast have conquered this controversial piece with their spirited production.
Director Poe makes great use of the small space at the Theatre on the Run. The majority of the scenes take place in a very realistic modern – yet rustic -western bar, designed by Poe and constructed by Master Carpenter Ben French. Poe uses simple and effective lighting design (expertly designed by Jared Jacknow) to pull the audience into different scenes in the show, giving a more intimate setting for smaller scenes. This was effective but many times the lighting cues seemed to be off, leaving the actors in the dark during dialogue.
Poe, working with Choreographer Marielle Burt, stages the large 21 person cast effectively. The ensemble plays several different characters throughout, but mostly were bar patrons and servers, and they never seem to loose enthusiasm or focus. Particularly well-staged and performed numbers were “Populism, Yea, Yea!” and “Public Life” where the ensemble was in slow motion, all timed to perfection. It was a really cool effect for a particularly poignant song, following the death of Andrew Jackson’s (Elliot Duffy) wife Rachel (Jamie Goodson).
Duffy is fabulous as the first of the American maverick politicians, Andrew Jackson. Duffy is appropriately cocky in the role, with a smarminess and charm apropos to the historical figure. He also has an exceptional rock-styled belt, which was especially evident in the aforementioned “Public Life.”
The standout performance of the day is Jaime Goodson as Jackson’s wife, Rachel. She is an absolute delight to watch on stage, giving one of the best performances of the day in her solo, “The Great Compromise.”
I particularly enjoyed the performance of Ray Clardy who played multiple roles well but was particularly hilarious as James Monroe. It is reminiscent of the Impressive Clergyman of The Princess Bride. Clardy is joined by several other former politicians of their day, Henry Clay (Jack Posey), Martin Van Buren (Rob Condas), John C. Calhoun (Alex Bulova) and John Quincy Adams (Drew Bondy). All are terrific singers.
The band of shyster politicians are hilarious! Bulova, Bondy and Posey had me in stitches when performing, “The Corrupt Bargain.”
Setting the story are the Storyteller (Marcia Cunning), Female Soloist (Camryn Shegogue), and Male Soloist (Ben Ribler). The trio are the barkeeps for the day, but also weave in and out of the show pulling together the story of Jackson’s life, with narration (Cunning) and song (Shegogue and Ribler). Each performed with great energy and are clearly very talented, but there were times when it was hard to hear them over the music. Shegogue’s solo in “Ten Little Indians” was one of the exceptions and she delivered it well.
The Band Leader, Carlos Castillo, also gave a worthy performance. His solo “Second Nature” was beautiful and highlighted Castillo’s striking tenor rock vocals.
Castillo was set on stage just in front of the band, led by Musical Director it’s Walter “Bobby” McCoy. The band was excellent, keeping the energy high for the whole of the performance. They had the audience filled with energy, inducing uproarious applause from the audience from beginning to end of the show.
In all, the Little Butterfly Theatre Company’s production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is a first-rate performance from this new group of young performers. This is a limited engagement.
Check out Little Butterfly Theatre Company‘s future performances. There’s a lot of great talent in this company!
Running Time: 90 minutes, with no intermission.
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson has one more performance today at 7 PM at Little Butterfly Theatre Company performing at Theater on the Run – 3700 South Four Mile Run Drive, in Arlington, VA. Purchase your tickets online, or at the door.
Little Butterfly Theatre Company’s website.