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Salt Lake Acting Company: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” goes the oft-misquoted line from Santayana. In the raucous, slyly perceptive Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, we get a line that, in a just world, would become equally legendary: “You can’t shoot history in the neck.”

Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman’s rock musical renders the story of Andrew Jackson (J. C. Ernst) as the biography of a leather-clad political rock star, a man who rose to fame in the early 19th century as a populist who took matters into his own hands, clearing the troublesome Spanish, English and American Indians out of “our country.” Ernst hits on a perfect interpretation of the character as a cross between Elvis and George W. Bush, channeling the angst of the self-absorbed with a chorus of “life sucks, and my life sucks in particular.”

Salt Lake Acting Company’s energetic staging nails the comedic moments, including the crude, rough-and-tumble Jackson’s confrontations with dandified Washington elites, and a love song with his wife-to-be, Rachel (Jessica Kennedy), that finds the humor in “Illness as Metaphor.” Yet it winds up even more fascinating once Jackson ascends to the presidency, and the play explores the complications of running a nation based on “what the people want”—especially when they don’t know what they want, or seem to want contradictory things at the same time. The resonances with contemporary politics are notable but never aggressive, turning this particular history lesson into something as smart as it is entertaining. (Scott Renshaw)

Date: Oct 28, 2012
Time: Times Vary
Phone: 801-363-0526
Address: 168 W. 500 North, Salt Lake City, 84103
Where: Salt Lake Acting Company