Monday, October 29, 2012

Unicorn "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" review by Detailer

Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson 
Rating: 4

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Unicorn Theatre

With Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson, the Unicorn again offers an irreverent twist on a timely topic. This election season gives us the wild and, yes, bloody times of Andrew Jackson, and it's eerily relevant to the election of 2012. References to bankers, Bush, guns, posters, prejudice, and the fickle public, among other topics, keep the 19th century pointing a mirror to today. Humorous anachronisms emphasize that.

Telling this history with rock music is a brilliant idea, and the solid ensemble carries it out with energy, attitude, and excellence. Shea Coffman commands the stage as Andrew Jackson, and Katie Karel matches him as his wife, Rachel. Both are strong vocally, giving a range of emotions that are honest, as well as spot-on comic timing.

The ensemble works well together, and each member of the ensemble has moments to shine. Matthew Rapport and Sam Wright particularly stand out with their ability to create several distinct characters, each of whom is well-drawn and entertaining. Jeff Berger's "Van Buren" and Trista Smith's "Storyteller" add the right style of humor. Chioma Anyanwu brings haunting emotion to her solos in "Ten Little Indians", while Jacob Aaron Cullum has a quiet intensity in his "Second Nature" solo. Vi Tran, Rafi Cedeno, and Megan Herrera all provide strong vocals, humorous bits, and non-stop energy. Band members Cody Wyoming, Angelyn Benson, Justin McCoy, and Kyle Brown keep the rock music authentic. The role of the little boy is double cast with Paolo Laskero and Nicholas Buffo.

UMKC students shone in the technical side. Matthew Mott designed a fascinating set that gives levels and sense of place with 19th century style. Details from one wall to the other, and even on the ceiling, give the audience plenty to study. Matthew Mitra created a lighting design that sets the mood well for each scene, with effective specials. Aaron Chvatal, Thomas Garcia, Toussaint Hunt, Robert Fletcher, Kelsea Brennan, Kaitlin Duckworth, and Erin Ray support the show with their technical skills in costume, props, sound, dramaturgy, and other assistance.

Cynthia Levin directed a tight show that moves quickly and smoothly and gives a variety of stage pictures, and Christina Burton's choreography is vibrant and energetically strong. They make great use of the expanded space, with actors leaping up and down levels. The physicality of the entire ensemble keeps interest. My favorite scene is a tribute to West Side Story, with slow motion. There is also interesting use of rolling stools to change stage pictures.

The crew also includes Alex Perry, Emily Swenson, and Jeremy Brown.

My main complaint is that sometimes the band is too loud and drowns out the voices; I especially couldn't understand some of the words in the opening number.

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