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'Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson' to rock Corn Stock

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When you think about rock musicals, the ones that may come to mind include “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Hair” and “Rent.” And these days, “Hamilton” usually enters the conversation.

One show that doesn’t, at least yet, is “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.” It has only been done once in central Illinois, at Eureka College. It is, after all, a show that is destined to appeal more to a younger audience, what with its rock music and lyrics and its different take on history that turns Andrew Jackson in a rock star as he heads off to claim Native American property for the then-young United States.

“Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson gets it first community theatre look starting this Friday at Corn Stock Theatre’s Winter Playhouse. And when Corn Stock decided to produce it at its Winter Playhouse this season, it knew it wanted a director familiar with the style and able to draw younger audiences. Chip Joyce was a no brainer and he readily accepted the offer because it was a show he wanted to do.

He was, after all, the director of the most recent central Illinois productions of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Hair” and “Rent.”

“This is another type of show I love to do, the kind where you have a story line but is highly, highly theatrical and you can let your imagination run a little,” Joyce said. “Also, this show is very anachronistic with some severe artistic liberties taken. A lot of the characters are composite of the real-life people.”

The venue, Joyce said, is “the perfect place” for “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.” The Winter Playhouse is the theatre in Upper Bradley Park where Corn Stock produces edgy shows with much less concern about themes and language and such than at the summer venue under the tent.

“There really isn’t anyplace else in Peoria you can do this show, at least in community theatre, than at the (Winter Playhouse). I’m glad Corn Stock is doing it and that they asked me to direct,” he said.

The show was written by Michael Friedman and Alex Timbers. It is billed as a comedic historical rock musical about the founding of the Democratic Party and follows Jackson, who was the seventh President of the United States, as he forms militia to take much Native American land, claiming to have grabbed more land than Thomas Jefferson, all while focusing on populism.

Joyce said the title of the show refers more to the blood on the hands of Andrew Jackson for his actions in uprooting and killing so many Native Americans. “Populism rose up because people then felt like there was a need to shake things up a bit. And there is the EMO part of it, the highly emotional and sensitive lyrics of that subgenre.”

The cast of 17 includes many veterans of local community theatre. Adam Sitton portrays Jackson and Sagan Drake is Rachel, his wife. Others in the cast include Trish Ballard as the Storyteller, Aaron Elwell as Clay, Jarod Hazzard as Van Buren, Andrew Schoepke as John Quincy Adams and Josh Jones as Black Fox.

The music was directed by Laura Weaver Hughes and she performs with the five-piece band that will be on stage. Jennifer Morris is the choreographer.

Joyce said he believes “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” is cut from the same cloth as the better-known “Hamilton” in the style of the show and the music, which is why many are ready to draw comparisons between the two shows.

“I really have to tell people that this is not ‘Hamilton.’ It is an entirely different beast. But people will like it. The music is great, I was able to get a great cast and it’s a lot of fun,” Joyce said.

The show is one act, only 90 minutes long.

Show times ar 7:30 p.m. this Friday and Saturday, then again on Feb. 16, 17 and 18 and 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 19. Tickets are $18 for adults and $12 for students and can be purchased online at www.cornstocktheatre.com or ordered by calling (309) 676-2196.

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).

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