By: Bernie KrummStaff Writer
This Sunday was the final performance of the Masquerade Musical Theater Company’s production of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” an emo-rock musical and political satire written by Michael Friedman and Alex Timbers, respectively. While not perfect, the production succeeded as both an entertaining and poignant satire thanks to a talented cast. “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” is a satirical look at the life and times of our seventh president, played by Sean Kelly, who made his name by appealing to the common man. Timbers portrays Jackson as an indecisive, impulsive and moody teenager who uses charisma and a rock star persona to gain followers. As one character points out, there is still no real consensus as to whether Jackson was a champion of democracy and individual rights or a mass murderer who egregiously abused his power. It’s hard to imagine that someone can be looked at as either, but Jackson managed to pull it off; “Bloody Bloody” portrays him as both, although it tends to lean toward the latter. The work calls into question the pragmatism of a direct democracy and examines the superficial factors that come into play when electing leaders. Like the youth of today, the common people portrayed in “Bloody Bloody” feel as though the aristocrats in power are not recognizing their needs and concerns. While the characters know what’s wrong with society, they are unable to properly govern when given the chance. The music consists mostly of angry punk rock songs, such as “Populism, Yea, Yea” that capture the frustration of a marginalized class of people. All of these elements, along with the comical use of anachronisms, make the work incredibly relevant. The staging of the production, directed by Kelley Malloy, appropriately makes Jackson the center of attention and conveys his rock star status. Marina DeYoe-Pedraza’s choreography adds to the musicals rebellious sentiments and, in many places, its humor. Friedman’s score is excellently played by the band, in particular the bandleader, Andrew Akler, and greatly contributes to the productions entertainment value. Mr. Kelly’s performance as Jackson has all of the charisma and zeal that is essential to the character. He is quite good when his character finds that his authority and methods of governing are being challenged. Also to his credit, Malloy is the most capable singer in the cast and is one of the few performers able to project his voice adequately. However, Malloy’s portrayal is oftentimes too serious to be satirical, for the character is intended to be a caricature of Jackson. Matt Engle gives a scene stealing performance as the befuddled, Twinkie gobbling Martin Van Buren, who is sexually attracted to Jackson. Engle and Kelly share a few scenes that effectively bring out the comedy of an awkward situation. Rachel Sutter throws herself into her role as the wheelchair-bound storyteller. Her performance is filled with hilarious levels of enthusiasm and exaggeration. As much as I enjoyed it, I do have a few criticisms (as I always do). While most members of the ensemble gave performances with just the right amount of hyperbole, others went a bit overboard. There were a few comedic scenes that were dragged out too long, most notably one scene in which President Monroe and members of the cabinet danced awkwardly on chairs. Also, many of the singers were not able to project their voices and were drowned out by the band. Overall, the production was able to bring out the comedy and satire that is present in the source material. Despite their bizarre nature, great satires like “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” hold more truth and relevance than any so-called historically accurate work.