New musical combines punk rock with background, history of Andrew Jackson

Published by adviser, Author: Juliana Segura - Rocket Contributor, Date: February 28, 2013

The Department of Theater combines blazing, edgy punk rock instrumentals and lyrics with the history of President Andrew Jackson and early 19th-century America in their latest production, “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.”

Written by Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman, and voted Musical of the Year by “The New York Times” and “Rolling Stone,” “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” is a comedic punk rock musical that combines modern elements with the early 19th-century elements based on America in its adolescence and how America grew. The musical also redefines the seventh President Andrew Jackson in an “emo way,” according to Professor of Theatre and director of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” Dr. David Skeele.

According to Skeele, this is a very unique musical because it is made up of 19 cast members and that many of them are portraying more than one role.

Skeele said he took on a major role as director of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” and many other productions at SRU because he enjoys the story-telling aspect of theater.

“It has been a fun creative musical that we decided to put together,” Skeele said. “We have been practicing for five weeks straight for about 3-4 hours an evening in order to put an exhilarating show.”

Skeele said another reason that this isn’t an ordinary musical is because the actors are inclusive with the audiences. They will talk directly and interact with the viewers.

Skeele added that the musical is funny, moving, disturbing and shifting because the audience will be surprised to see what happens next.

As the director, Skeele said hopes for the audience to have an enlivening evening in the theater and to get a sense of what U.S. history was and how it is different than modern time.

“I really hope to have Andrew Jackson’s historic features come to life for the audience to grasp,” Skeele said. “It is a strange take because of the hardcore rock that has been formed into a violently emotional aspect that young teenagers can relate to.”

Sophomore undecided major Zach Frye, 19, is playing the lead role as Andrew Jackson.

“Having a lead role to me feels [like] I’m a leader and helper towards the other cast members,” Frye said. “I have to make sure trust is important to this musical because with the trust from others, I can carry on this heavy load.”

“Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” is geared towards people of the young adult age, according to Skeele. Being a punk rock musical, it will incorporate a live band that will make it a concert atmosphere. The audience will be seated surrounding the stage because the crew wanted them to feel involved in the musical rather than sitting from feet away, according to Skeele.

Behind the scene of the musical is important to the success of any particular production, according to senior emerging technology and multimedia and theater design and technology major Danielle DePalma.

DePalma, 22, said she enjoys working from the technical perspective of the department’s productions.

“I love being able to run the technical part of the show and see how it has developed from start to finish,” DePalma said. “I work with the actors, lighting, stage crew and more to put the effects together.”

The stage set up is fascinating, according to DePalma, because there are several different areas where the actors will come in and out, and therefore, the audience has no idea what to expect. Painted backdrops with graffiti and the font that will portray the punk rock writing style make up as part of the stage setting, and the stage floor is the map of the US in the 1820s.

The department’s main goal is to include different organizations with this production. The performing punk rock band consists of students from the Department of Music, and there will also be an art exhibit in the lobby before the show begins.

“Presented are artworks from the art department that include historical art about Andrew Jackson,” DePalma said.

This is a new experience for students to view because this type of musical has never been done on campus. It involves history in a punk rock way, which will get the audience on their feet, according to Frye.

Not only that, but the language is also quite vulgar throughout the musical, according to Frye.

“I’m excited to see the audience’s reaction during parts, since it’s not what they would expect,” he said. “Being the lead role took lots of time and practice to achieve, so I’m ready to put my hard work into the final production. Be prepared to laugh.”

Skeele said he is pleased with the turnout of the final product from the cast and crew.

“[The students] are very creative and had a great time working on the musical, and it allowed everyone to enjoy being a part of something immense,” Skeele said.

“Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” makes its on-campus debut Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room (MPR) in the University Union. The show will continue on March 3 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and March 3-7 at 7:30 pm.

Tickets are still on sale at The Robert M. Smith Student Center information desk 7:30 a.m. to midnight, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday 9 a.m. to midnight, or at the University Union Box Office one hour prior to show times.


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