Not only was Andrew Jackson the 7th President of the United States and the founder of the American Democratic Party, he also wore really tight skinny jeans, used “fuck” in every sentence and looked a lot like a Green Day band member; at least, that’s how he is presented in the comedy-musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, which closed its two-week run at Center Stage Theater last weekend. The show was produced by Santa Barbara’s Out of the Box Theatre Company, known for staging fringe shows like Reefer Madness and Evil Dead the Musical, which frequently star UCSB students.

History fans looking for a straightforward tale of Andrew Jackson’s presidency would have been disappointed by the show, as the musical does everything it can to break with expectation. The most obvious way is by setting its story in the present day, with Andrew Jackson and the other historical characters dressed in modern punk rock attire: black eyeliner, spiked jewelry and tight clothing. The cast seems more like a group of whiny, emo teenagers than 19th-century American politicians, adding to the satirical nature of the show.

This is not to say that the show is not also deeply historical. On the contrary, the musical traces Jackson’s involvement in well-known events like the Battle of New Orleans, his issues with the National Bank and relocations of Native Americans during his presidency. Though Andrew Jackson is portrayed as rebellious, crude and violent, he is also intensely relatable as the “people’s president,” allowing his character to poke fun at the American government.

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson also breaks with stage conventions. In Brechtian fashion, characters frequently address the audience directly and make reference to the on-stage band, which stays visible the entire show and almost becomes another character. The musical relies heavily on rock concert aesthetics and the first number feels more like a full on performance than a narrative song. The show begins with the entire cast holding microphones and performing “Populism, Yea, Yea!” to the audience. Later, characters talk to the band’s lead singer and Andrew Jackson even grabs an electric guitar to join the band.

Playing the show’s title character, actor Steven Stone flawlessly carried the show. Early on, Stone’s hat got caught on his microphone while singing “I’m Not That Guy,” something that was definitely not rehearsed. Stone continued singing effortlessly, however, playing the mishap into the song’s narrative and finally untangling the hat to a clapping audience.

Another great performance came from UCSB junior Connor Gould, who played many characters in the show in addition to being the male soloist. Gould served as comic relief in many scenes, as Jackson’s messenger, a British soldier whipping the president and one half of a loving couple who met at a Jackson support rally. He also stole the spotlight in every one of his songs, rocking each rock performance with eyeliner and attitude. Another UCSB student, senior Terry Li, also proved her talent dramatically as a dying Native American mother and humorously as President Jackson’s disinterested “cheerleader.” The show’s supporting characters contributed greatly to the musical’s over-the-top comedy, drawing audience attention to the little moments in each scene.

Out of the Box Theatre Company once again delighted Santa Barbara audiences with their staging of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. If you want to get involved with these talented people (and you should), Out of the Box will be holding auditions for their next show Next to Normal on Mar. 2 and 3. And attend the Next to Normal performances May 2 – 12 at the Center Stage Theater to support a talented local company! Based on their successes so far, I think you’ll enjoy it.

A version of this article appeared on page 8 of February 28th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.