When Sid Germaine was younger — he's only 20, by the way — he was into rock and emo music as well as theater.
He decided when he "grew up" he would act in rock musicals because they combined what he loves most.
So playing several roles, among them that of John Quincy Adams, in the rock musical "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" is "whatever my 15-year-old self could have ever dreamed of," said Germaine, a sophomore majoring in acting at the University of Illinois.
Because the musical, opening Thursday night at the Station Theatre, tells of the life of President Jackson in the spirit of rock music, costume director Thom Schnarre looked to rock stars for inspiration; for Germaine, it's a morph between Angus Young, frontman of the Australian hard rock band AC/DC, and Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols.
Corbin Dixon, who is playing Andrew Jackson, was inspired by members of the Rolling Stones and Dave Grohl, lead singer for the Foo Fighters.
"I also did a lot of watching of Tom Cruise, particularly in 'Magnolia' and 'Rock of Ages,'" Dixon said before rehearsal on Monday night.
He also researched Jackson, who had a reputation for being egotistical and blowing things out of proportion.
"To some extent, it's all about himself," Dixon said.
Like iconic rock stars, Jackson, our seventh president and the first to rise from humble roots, had to deal with the turmoil of celebrity.
"He cared so much about what people wanted from him and about his popularity," said the 23-year-old Dixon, who by day works as a sexuality educator for Planned Parenthood.
"Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" basically follows the life of Jackson via 14 songs that are punk in nature because each is roughly two minutes long, said Mikel Matthews Jr., who is directing the musical.
A four-piece band, with Jimmy Bean at the drum set, performs the music, with Station veteran David Barkley as music director as well as the bandleader in the musical.
There also is spoken dialogue in the musical, which runs for 90 minutes without intermission.
The New York-based experimental company Les Freres Corbusier developed "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" in workshop productions in 2006-07. The musical premiered in January 2008 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, Calif., and opened in May 2009 at the Public Theater in New York in a concert version.
In 2010, the show premiered on Broadway. Though it received good reviews from critics, among them Ben Brantley of The New York Times, it closed at a loss after 120 performances due to poor attendance.
In his review, Brantley wrote that the unorthodox musical makes the case that this country's relationship with its president is always deeply and irrationally personal. He also wrote that the musical staked "a claim as the most entertaining and most perceptive political theater of the season."
The musical, as presented on Broadway, explored "a fierce emotionalism in American politics that transcends party lines and has existed for centuries," Brantley said in his review.
"Though the United States may have been founded on the rational principles of the Enlightenment, this show suggests that what really makes it run — then and now — is the crazy, mixed-up energy of enduring adolescence," he wrote. "Idealism, resentment, a short attention span, a fear of being perpetually misunderstood and a ravenous sense of entitlement are mixed together here in one big, gawky, sexually charged package: America, the eternal teenager.
"And who better to lead this restless, appetite-driven creature than a red-blooded rock star?"
Despite its rock-and-roll attitude, "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" has significant things to say about the United States, said Schnarre, an English and theater professor at Parkland College.
"How we were founded and how messy it was and the contradictions in our country are in this musical," Schnarre said. "It's trying to make everything iconic but very rock and roll at the same time."
If you go
What: Celebration Company presents the musical "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson," with music and lyrics by Michael Friedman and book by Alex Timbers; directed by Mikel Matthews Jr.; music direction by David Barkley
When: 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday; Jan. 23-27; Jan. 30-Feb. 2
Where: Station Theatre, 223 Broadway Ave., U
Tickets: $10 on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays; $15 on Fridays and Saturdays
Information: http://www.stationtheatre.com ; 384-4000