Old Hickory, new look: ‘Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson’ rocks Washington Park

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Who needs Shakespeare in the park when you can see a political rock musical in Park Slope?

Starting July 3, Piper Theatre Productions will stage a free, outdoors run of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” in Washington Park.

The show loosely tells the story of President Andrew Jackson, recasting “Old Hickory” as an angsty rock star and featuring a score of expletive-laden emo rock songs. It is a witty and fast-moving production, said the play’s director, presenting many sides of the seventh president — a man who is probably most controversially remembered for orchestrating the forced removal of many Native Americans from their tribal lands. The seeming contradiction between this historical tragedy and the musical comedy format is part of the show’s appeal, he said.

“It is only as we find ourselves laughing or upset or offended or emotionally engaged that we begin to realize how important the questions are that the piece raises,” said Nigel Williams, who flew in from California to direct the production.

The play has become a regional and community theater favorite following its 2010–2011 run on Broadway, but Williams believes even those who have seen it before will find something new in the troupe’s version. The audience can expect a rollercoaster ride of song, dance, and caricature, punctuated with moments of poignancy and authenticity, he said — a testament to the strength of the young ensemble.

“I love working with young professional actors who are willing to take risks, try anything and work incredibly hard to achieve work that is different, challenging and excellent,” said Williams.

A representative from Piper said he believes the troupe’s own Andrew Jackson, actor Sean Coughlin, will prove to be a big draw-card for the show in particular.

“We have a leading man who you can’t take your eyes off of,” said the company’s artistic director John McEneny, who has been teaching drama at Park Slope’s MS 51 for 16 years. “He’s really funny and charismatic — a star in the making.”

“Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” at the Old Stone House, Washington Park [336 Third St. between Fourth and Fifth avenues in Park Slope, (718) 768–3195,]. July 3, 5, 10–12, and 17–19 at 8 pm. Free.

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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