Their Bloody Valentine – Out of the Box presents a punk rock presidential musical

 From left, MikeChen as bandleader,Terry Li as Naomi, Steven Stone as AndrewJackson, Maggie Hill asToula and Connor Gould as male soloist. Out of the Box Theatre photo


From left, MikeChen as bandleader,Terry Li as Naomi, Steven Stone as AndrewJackson, Maggie Hill asToula and Connor Gould as male soloist.
Out of the Box Theatre photo

Samantha Eve and her Out of the Box Productions have a penchant for the outre, blood, and … presidents it seems. Over their short production history, they’ve shot cannons of “blood” into the audience for their Halloween “Evil Dead” musical, and revived Stephen Sondheim’s “Assassins,” his paean to the mentally unbalanced killers and would-be murderers. So this Thursday’s opening of the musical “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” at the Center Stage Theater, is keeping with tradition.

“I think his legacy is haunted by a lot of blood, death and destruction,” Ms. Eve says. “And he’s a fascinating choice for a musical. Out of all the presidents, to make a punk musical about him? Because if you think about it, so much of that emo, punk craze is with the adolescents. And when Andrew Jackson was president, technically the United States was a teenager, a rebellious state of mind.”

Played by Steven Stone in this production, the musical follows Jackson first as a Native American-hating youth, then moves to his xenophobic, populist campaign and victory, then his genocidal campaign, Supreme Court be damned, against the Native Americans. But power also breeds insecurity and tragedy. The musical satire is edgy and simultaneously smart and silly.

The musical started as a small experimental production by New York’s Les Freres Corbusier and became such a hit that it moved briefly to Broadway, where Ms. Eve encountered it.

As soon as she started her production company, she sent an email to Alex Timbers, who wrote the book (Michael Friedman wrote the music and lyrics) to buy the rights. He put her on the wait list and finally in 2012 their chance came through.

“I relate to this musical a bit like ‘South Park,’ ” Ms. Eve says. “It’s crazy and funny, but in the end it’s making a statement on something going on in the world.”

The cast is large at 14, similar to last year’s “Spring Awakening” production, and stars Mike Chen, Ms. Eve, Cole Evers, David Goren, Connor Gould, Anne Guynne, Maggie Hill, Skyler Jones, Conner Lewis, Terry Li, Marc Nicolas, Emily Segal, Steven Stone, and Dillon Yuhasz. The cast comes from places including UCSB, PCPA and former Out of the Box productions.

Mike Chen, the musical’s band leader and lead guitarist, is making his theater debut. After seeing “Next to Normal” (which Out of Box plans to mount this season) he changed his idea about the stage. Theater wasn’t just high school productions of “Oklahoma!”; it could be anything you wanted it to be. Ms. Eve delights in telling the story — it’s what she hopes Out of the Box can achieve.

“I love being able to put on the new thing,” she says. “The things that people haven’t heard of, or haven’t seen. But I think that people know by now that’s what we do.”

Ms. Eve cast Mr. Stone as Andrew Jackson because, she said, he had the charisma to pull it off.

“He has to be so bold and so charming while doing some horrible, horrible things,” she says. “Because you want the audience to want him to succeed … There was this love story with his wife, and he did adopt many Native American children. He was a well-rounded person.”

But history does mean Mr. Stone is going to have to work hard. When the company went out to Cold Springs Tavern for a promotional photo shoot, they got talking about the upcoming show to some people there, and Ms. Eve says the reaction was immediate.

“The first thing one guy said to me was, ‘Andrew Jackson? He was a jerk!’ ”

‘Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson’
When: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, through Feb. 24
Where: Center Stage Theater, Paseo Nuevo
Cost: $25
Information: 963-0408 or www.centerstagetheater.org

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