Music and words from the cast of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”

 Andrew Jackson, the Rockstar president, makes his first visit to Charleston via The Village Repertory Co. at its new home in the Woolfe Street Playhouse. “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” which transforms America’s 7th president into an emo lead singer, has never before been performed in the Charleston area. Go behind the curtain with this audio preview of the show.

Will Haden plays Andrew Jackson and sings “I’m not that Guy.” In his professional directorial debut, Josh Wilhoit styles the musical around the idea of politics as celebrity. Becca Anderson plays Rachel Jackson, Andrew’s wife, and sings “The Great Compromise.” Corey Webb serves as musical director and sings “Second Nature,” a reflective song near the end of the show.

If you go

  • When: Thursday May 30 – June 22
  • Where: Woolfe Street Playhouse, 34 Woolfe St.
  • Tickets: $36

Costuming the Presidents

For the past 20 years, Julie Ziff has been behind the scenes of the Charleston theater community. More appropriately, behind the seams. For Ziff, costuming shows has become a passion since retiring from her day job in New York City years ago. Knowing that she was wanted to go into costuming, Ziff took theater classes at The New School in NYC and shipped down to Charleston to start her new career—one that keeps her incredibly busy. Currently, the designer is costuming two shows for the Piccolo Spoleto Festival at the Woolfe Street Playhouse, “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” and “Love, Loss and What I Wore.”  The good news, she may be busy, but it’s easy to find her: in the costume shop.

How did you get involved with this theatre?
Julie Ziff: I did a show for Keely Enright (founder and producing artistic director of The Woolfe Street Playhouse)  when we were downtown at the Midtown Theatre and then when they decided to start their own theater company, she asked me to come and work with them.

How did you get into costume design?
Ziff: Well I moved down here from New York City and I retired from my day job. And, right before I left I went to The New School and I took an acting class, a set design class and a directing class because I wanted to do costumes, but I thought I don’t even know the language. So, I took those classes right before I left and when I came down here, my younger daughter was in the theater so I started making costumes for the theater company she was with. I have done costumes for almost everyone in town and then I met Keely and Dave and started working for them full time.

What was the daily wear of the 19th century politician and their cohorts? What were people wearing back then?
Ziff: Suits. Well, you know, clothes haven’t changed too much over the years. So, it’d be a shirt and tie, and a vest and a jacket with maybe a hat.

What about the women?

Julie Ziff (right) and Keely Enright (left, producting artistic director of the Woolfe Street Playhouse).

Julie Ziff (right) and Keely Enright (left, producting artistic director of the Woolfe Street Playhouse).


Ziff: Well, a dress. I’m not sure if it was a bustle dress at that point or just a hoop skirt, but it was big clothes and a lot of layers, too.

Have you interpreted the costumes from the original Broadway show?
Ziff: We of course have that available as a resource and since it is such a recent show, it has more of an influence on us than if we were just creating it from scratch, but we always like to do our own thing.

So how did you do your own thing?
Ziff: Well, Keely, Josh [Wilhoit, Director of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson] and I met together and we talked about what the colors are, what is the feeling we want here? I meet all of the actors so I sort of know body sizes and what they look like, so it  springs from that. We think about what works in our theater because we’re not off Broadway, we’re not Broadway; we have a stage that isn’t deep.

What do you think is the biggest challenge when designing costumes?
Ziff: In this type of theater where you have maybe a four-to-six week run, you have to make the costume substantial enough so it will last the run but you can’t afford to make it substantial enough so that it’s really there forever.

Have you ever been inspired to veer away from a traditional costume and make it your own?
Ziff: Yes, they let me do that a lot. It’s very collaborative here.

What has been your craziest costume designing experience?
Ziff: Maybe “Urinetown” was one of our more creative from a costume standpoint because we just did all black, white and grey and we used red as the accent color. Everybody had something red.

What was the reasoning behind that?
Ziff: The set was a cinderblock outhouse that they were using and we just wanted to make it more dramatic. It was such a great musical and we wanted to be able to pull on the drama of it.

What is your favorite part about doing costume design?
Ziff: Every play is its own entity. You have about a month to research everything, decide what you’re going to do and then you have two weeks to make them and then they’re up for a month and you start all over. So, it’s very creative and very fun.

A Celebration of Clothes and All That Comes With It

Review of “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” at the Woolfe Street Playhouse.

If there was one person who knew exactly what to say about today’s American women, it had to be Nora Ephron.

Most people know about Nora from her famous “I feel bad about my neck” piece in Vogue. In “Love, Loss, and What I Wore,”  a play written by Nora and Delia Ephron based on a book of the same name by Ilene Beckerman, the siblings make jokes not only about necks, but also bras, purses and Eileen Fisher.

Presented by the Village Repertory Co. at the Woolfe Street Playhouse, (a perfect venue for a “ladies’ night” accompanied with wine and besties) “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” is a story about women’s anonymous everyday relationships—mothers, step-mothers, husbands, ex-husbands, etc., and how they are always, somehow, associated with clothes.

As a series of monologues, the play is delivered by a rotating cast of five women. If Nora and Delia’s sharp but lighthearted lines are the cornerstones, it is the performances of the five actresses that really trigger the audience.

“Oh My God—I look like my mother!”
“Who did I think I was when I bought this?”
“Who did the salesgirl think I was when she talked me into buying this?”
“I can’t zip this up only because I’m having my period.”

When one actress was speaking, the other four would watch and react. There are a lot of collective memories, laughs and a bit of tears among the cast and the audience.

It’s a night to honor Diane von Furstenberg’s wrap dresses, gay marriage, classic black, Madonna, but most importantly—women.

When the play premiered off Broadway in 2009, it was described as “the Vagina Monologues without the vagina.” Apparently, the “monologues with clothes” work just as well and intimately. Maybe it’s because every woman knows that at the end of the day she always has her clothes.