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Hard rock meets Andrew Jackson in 'Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson'

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"Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson" at Kansas City's The Barn Players' Playhouse

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Heavy metal music, current era costuming, and no formal set best describe The Barn Players newest production, “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson,” a two act musical based on the life of Andrew Jackson and his rise to power in a young nation.

Because inclement weather caused the cancellation of a Sunday matinee on opening weekend, an additional performance was announced March 11to be on Thursday, March 13. All tickets for that show are $12, with a curtain time of 7:30, Pat Paton, public relations director said.

The Barn Players present the controversial rock musical, "Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson," Feb. 28-March 16 at their theater in Mission, KS as the premier show of their 59th consecutive season.

"Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson," an award winning rock musical brings to the forefront the main character and the issue of his appropriate place in American history. Was he wonderful or was he a scallywag? Was he a hero or was he a dictator? How should he be remembered as his Populist party grew into favor and later fell into disillusionment?

“Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,’ a mix of reality and fiction with an infectious rock music score, recreates and reinvents the life of our seventh President, Andrew Jackson, known as ‘Old Hickory,’ who was termed America’s first political maverick,” a spokesman from The Barn Players said.

“Jackson’s humble beginnings on the Tennessee frontier to his days as President of the United States, his political problems, problems with the American Indians, and his relationship with his wife Rachel - all play into the political landscape of the show.”

As Andrew Jackson, Matt Pierce delivered a strong performance and an empowered stage presence. His voice, strong and clear, belted out the musical score with determination and attitude. He definitely gave the strongest performance in the show.

Next, Beth Benedict, as Rachael, Jackson’s wife gave the second strongest performance, even though her stage time was limited. She played Jackson’s long suffering wife. She possesses great vocal skills and knows how to perform a strong but vulnerable character.

For comedy relief Fran Kapono serves as a narrator and “tour guide” for the life story. She’s funny from the moment she hits the stage with touches of Saturday Night Live’s Church Lady overtones.

The show is fun to watch, but definitely not for young children due to strong language. The show leave open the question of whether Jackson should be remembered as a hero or a murderer.

The choreography for “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson” is good and appropriate for the small stage. The direction and staging of the musical is great as well. The one weakness is the lack of a set. It’s hard to understand where the on stage scenes take place with only the band as the functioning set. A set would help the audience follow the story better.

Still, “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson” deserves a look. It gives a good history lesson into the life, social revolution and problems faced at an earlier time. Amazingly, the problems faced then mirror some of the problems currently facing the United States. In this case art imitates life.

The cast features the talents of: Matt Pierce, Beth Benedict, Fran Kapono, Kristen Altoro, Wil Andrews-Weiss, Sarah Bodle, Andrew Brown, Anne Haines, Gabe Lasley, Jake Leet, Katie Pugh, Brian Shortess, Tracy Van Unen, James Wearing, and Alyssa Winters.

"Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson" will be directed and choreographed by Guy Gardner, from a book written by Alex Timbers and music/lyrics from Michael Friedman. James Levy serves as musical director for the show.

Times are as follows: Friday evenings Feb. 28, March 7 and 14 at 7:30p.m.; Saturday evenings March 1, March 8 and March 15 at 7:30p.m.; and Sunday matinees March 2, March 9 and March 16 at 2p.m.

For more information contact The Barn Players, 6219 Martway in Mission, Kansas at their website: www.thebarnplayers.org or call the Box office: 913.432.9100.

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