Atlanta Art Reviews by Susan K Asher
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‘Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson’ at Actor’s Express

2013 January 17
L-R: Jeremiah Parker Hobbs, Kyle Brumley (partially visible), Tara Chiusano, Jeremy Wood, Bailey Sessions, Jordan Hale, Galen Crawley, Jason-Jamal Ligon; Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus

L-R: Jeremiah Parker Hobbs, Kyle Brumley (partially visible), Tara Chiusano, Jeremy Wood, Bailey Sessions, Jordan Hale, Galen Crawley, Jason-Jamal Ligon; Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus

Now this is interesting history! Had my teachers and history books been half as lively as “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” now playing at Actor’s Express, you wouldn’t have seen all those C’s in history on my report cards.

Imagine a trodden, rebellious crowd of punks decrying the government in the early 19th century, rallying around the meanest, baddest punk rocker in the nation, and you’ve got Andrew Jackson (Maxim Gukhman) and the angry ensemble that adores him. He butchers Native Americans, brawls with Congress, and fights to bring government out of the hands of the Washington elite and into those of the American  frontiers.

The play is loads of fun, hell raising and roiling music, but the cast rarely seems to touch upon the true emotion of their characters. Yes, Jackson and the ensemble stomp their feet, scrunch their faces, and shake their fists, but few ever touch on the angst beneath all that.

However, there is one gem among this cast who shines as bright as the best on SNL. Storyteller (Kerry Seymour) whips onto the stage in an electric wheelchair with the excitement of a smitten teenager, praising Andrew Jackson as if he were the most handsome, heroic man ever. Her jubilation and effervescence are contagious. Storyteller brings to life Lilly Tomlin’s telephone operator, Julia Sweeney’s “Pat,” and Frances McDormand in “Fargo,”  all in one believable character.

Jackson’s wife, Rachel (Galen Crawley), steps up her performance when she sings solo. If  Gukhman could bring his inner Sid Vicious to the microphone, it would be easier to overlook his off-key singing.

One thing I didn’t understand: why the costume designer didn’t dress Jackson in tight pants when it was stated twice that he was wearing tight pants.

A fun rock musical with lots of humor, a good script and a stellar performance by Seymour, “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” runs through Feb. 17 at Actor’s Express. Book by Alex Timbers, music and lyrics by Michael Friedman, directed by Freddie Ashley.

Ensemble:

Kyle Brumley, Tara Chiusano, Sam Costantino, Andy Danh, Jordan Hale, Jeremiah Parker Hobbs, Jason-Jamal Ligon, Bailey Sessions, Caitlin Smith, and Jeremy Wood.

Band: Bill Newbury, Bennett Walton, Chip Coursey.

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