Thursday, October 21, 2010

Review: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson is back, and he has got a rocking attitude and some sexypants. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, the new rock musical from Alex Timbers (Book & Director) & Michael Friedman (Music & Lyrics) is currently tearing down the Bernard Jacobs Theater on Broadway.

The show runs as a one act musical that is 1 hour and 40 minutes with no intermission. It is an outrageous wild west, rock musical about the founding of the modern Democratic Party. It re-imagines Andrew Jackson, America's 7th President, as an 'emo' rock star and focuses on populism, the Indian Removal Act, and his relationship with his wife Rachel.

This is a musical that will definitely split people. I enjoyed it for its score and humor, but its score and humor is definitely not for everyone. While it has its moments that will certainly make you think, the humor is in the vain of Monty Python, Saturday Night Live, and South Park. And for those expecting typical Broadway music, expect the total opposite. There is no orchestra but there is a 3 piece live band on stage conducted by Justin Levine (who even performs what I consider one of the best songs in the show on his own) who play drums, guitar and the piano, and who even interact with the characters on stage at various points in the piece, additionally various cast members pick up and play the guitar on certain songs.

The set design by Donyale Werle and lighting design by Justin Townsend are simply the best you will see on Broadway right now. I was fortunate enough to see the show when it was originally off Broadway at The Public Theater. This element was one of the things I enjoyed the most about that version of the production, something I feared would not transfer properly from a 200 seat theater to a 1000 seat theater. But wow did they manage to pull it off. The entire theater is covered in paintings of what the production team has called "dead white men" and crazy knick-knacks, as well as fur all over the place, plus a stuffed bear near the bar and even a stuffed horse hanging above the audience, this combined with the on stage set is ment to make the audience feel as if they are in the same room (or white house) as Mr jackson and the rest of the characters, which it does . As for lighting the design was patterned to make you feel like your at a 17th century punk rock concert, chandalers hang from the ceiling and christmas lights are tangled all over the place, there is also a abundance of neon tubes hang over the audience in the theater that bath it in reds and blues throughout the show, at one point there is even a disco ball used. I would absolutely be shocked if Mrs Werle & Mr Townsend do not take away Tony awards for their work.

Performance wise, there is not a weak link in the bunch. Benjamin Walker plays Andrew Jackson, and he does an amazing job, turning on a dime from a leader with a terrible temper, to a guy that wants what he wants when he wants, to someone who wants to be the one to lead the people, he is a absolute find and is extremely enjoyable to watch onstage. Except for Walker pretty much every other actor plays multiple characters, this includes Jeff Hiller who among playing a tour guide, a little boy, and a shoe cobbler plays John Quincy Adams. Mr Hiller totally steals every scene he is in with his crazy energy, great comedic timing and hysterical one liners. Other standouts of the cast include Kristine Nielsen as The Storyteller, Cameron Ocasio as Lyncoya , and Maria Elena Ramirez as Rachel.

This is another show that is certainly the one to beat at this years Tony awards, with nominations for Best Musical, Set, and Lighting all but guaranteed. You are doing nothing but a disservice to yourself by not going to see this show. Its funny, weird, smart and a rocking good time.

For more information on the show and to purchase tickets please visit

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