Old Hickory gets a charge of anarchistic electricity in “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” at the Chance Theater in Anaheim Hills. This sublimely raucous take on Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman’s savage emo rock evisceration of American politics via the seventh president of the United States is an in-your-face triumph.
First seen at the Kirk Douglas in 2008, revised for the Public Theater, “Jackson” resembles a mash-up of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, Fall Out Boy and the cast of “Nashville” on Jell-O shots. “Populism, Yea, Yea!” opens librettist Timbers’ concert-skewed narrative, which charts Jackson’s life and legacy in a cracked-prismatic manner that revels in present-day irreverence.
Composer-lyricist Friedman’s anachronistic numbers may be more serviceable than memorable, but they’re audacious. As when Jackson courts future (bigamous) wife Rachel with “Illness as Metaphor,” Sontag allusions included, or when the capper, “Second Nature,” brazenly addresses our implicit collusion with the antihero.
Together with choreographer Kelly Todd and music director Robyn Wallace, director Kari Hayter maintains a taut balance between satirical snark and sober intent on designer Christopher Scott Murillo’s brocade-stenciled set. Steve Giltner’s incendiary lighting, Carin Jacobs’ winking costumes and Dave Mickey and Iris Zacarias’ gonzo sound serve the unpredictable whole.
Kudos to the fervent ensemble, fronted by the revelatory Keaton Williams, who reaches wailing seriocomic heights as Jackson. Alex Bueno has a chirpy blast as the Storyteller; Ashley Arlene Nelson makes a dryly dulcet Rachel.
Nick Adomo, Gary Fields, Zachary Storey and Kyle Cooper swipe every scene as Jackson’s political rivals/colleagues. Gasper Grey’s ribald Bandleader and Chelsea Baldree’s zesty Female Soloist are tart tonal linchpins. Robert Wallace, James McHale, Dannielle Green and Janelle Kester complete a fearless roster.
Viewers adverse to F-bombs, sketch-show juvenilia and facing the historical contradictions that still afflict both political parties and the nation, stay home. Everyone else, go see “Andrew Jackson,” the Chance’s finest provocation since “Jerry Springer: The Opera” and bloody bloody magnificent.
“Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” Chance Theater, 5552 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim Hills. 7:45 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays. Ends Aug. 4. Mature audiences. $25-$45. (714) 777-3033 or www.ChanceTheater.com. Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun