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Pop Filter Hot Pick: Conservatory Theatre Company rocks out with Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Why you should go: Where else can you see America's seventh president singing, dancing and carrying on like a contemporary rock star?

History, romance, politics and rock & roll collide in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, presented by Point Park University's
Conservatory Theatre Company
. Directed by Michael McKelvey, the production features music and lyrics by American composer Michael Friedman and a book by Tony-nominated writer and director Alex Timbers. Now playing through March 2nd, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson runs in the Rockwell Theatre at Pittsburgh Playhouse.

This is one party (Democratic, that is) you have to see, and hear, to believe. A raucous reincarnation of Andrew Jackson (aka Old Hickory), the production presents the polarizing figure as a modern-day rock star. Equal parts satirical and historical, the lively rock musical offers a contemporary twist on Jackson's legacy, exploring his pivotal role within the founding of the Democratic Party, the Indian Removal Act and populism, as well as his struggles with Congress and the Supreme Court and his personal relationship with his wife, Rachel.

Boasting a set that takes inspiration from the legendary East Village club CBGB, which opened in 1973 and became a mecca for American punk and New Wave bands at the corner of the Bowery at Bleecker Street, the show includes more than 10 musical numbers, as well as projections, strobe lights and a talented cast of Point Park University students, More emo than punk rock, the show's central figure is played by Reed Worth. Starring as Jackson's wife Rachel is Brittany Dorazio.

A seven-piece band anchors the production, with student musicians performing on guitar, keyboards, drums, bass and wind instruments. The show's rollicking music includes everything from emo-core, vaudevillian and dance numbers, to a folk songs and a children's nursery rhyme.

Describing the production as "a serious version of the drunk history game" director Michael McKelvey is passionate about the high quality of talent that the show's Point Park students bring to the stage.

"This is our first Point Park production featuring all student musicians. I am really proud of that aspect of the show; it is very special for us. The band is a huge part of the show; they have lines and are on stage the entire time. The show really spotlights their talents," says McKelvey, who also serve's as the show's music director.

McKelvey also points out that the production uses satire to address many serious issues and themes surrounding Jackson's tenure, such as bigotry and the treatment of Native Americans.

"There are very poignant moments and serious issues in the show, and episodes in Jackson's life are explored. We poke fun of some serious issues, and the show even pokes fun of itself. It also brings a focus to Native American issues," says McKelvey. "The premise of the show is America's first rock star president. Jackson grew from nothing to become a lawyer and a military hero. He is a Horatio Alger underdog, but also because of that, when he finally got into office, he really messed a lot of things up and did not understand how government really works."

Head of Voice and associate professor of musical theatre for Point Park's Conservatory of Performing Arts, McKelvey received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Texas. The recipient of multiple B. Iden Payne and Austin Critics’ Table Awards as a stage director, music director, and producer, he is also artistic director of SummerStock Austin and Doctuh Mistuh Productions. With Point Park, McKelvey's credits include Honk Jr. (stage/music director), Oklahoma! and A Chorus Line (music director). His recent regional directing credits include Legally Blonde, Sweeney Todd, A Year with Frog and Toad (SSA), Les Misérables (Interlakes), Chess (Austin Playhouse); The Last Five Years (Penfold); Annie (Zilker Theatre); The Pajama Game (Mary Moody Northen); and many others.

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson features choreography by Cassidy Adkins, scenic design by Michael Thomas Essad, costume design by Michael Montgomery, lighting design by Andrew David Ostrowski, and sound design by Kristopher Buggey.

Appropriate for ages 12 and up. Purchase tickets now.

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