Before I begin this quickie review of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” you should know I’m a registered Cherokee, also part Choctaw, who once had a 20-minute-class-stopping-Todd-Packer-annoying debate over why, specifically, Andrew Jackson was a jackass. I am not a fan. If he really were a rock star, I might picket his MTV appearance. I’m just saying.
That said, I enjoyed the everloving eff out of this show. As much as I love cheesy Broadway – and boy, do I ever – I love edgy, grungy, inventive, crunchy Broadway too. This is a show made possible by Rent and Spring Awakening and Avenue Q and even Jesus Christ Superstar, and it should write all those productions lengthy thank you notes.
For those of you who don’t get involuntary subscriptions to Time Out NY for no reason, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson originated out in LA and moved to New York’s Public Theater where it did sufficiently well to score a Broadway time slot for a few months.
Basically it’s a rock bio-show of, you guessed, Andrew Jackson, with plenty of sulky rock guitar riffs and a thorough peppering of timely “populism is kind of a wicked terrible governing strategy.”
Absolutely no accommodation is made for Jackson’s notorious hatred of American Indians – as a frontier settler scion, he resented and feared them from the beginning, and so got a-killing as soon as he was old enough, which is how I got through some of the show’s uncomfortable piercing wit.
If you saw Curtains when it was running, part of the early scenes feel like the Kansas Forever show-within-a-show from that…but it quickly evolves from stylized folksy (. . .) to mavericky rock show (. . . .) and then it gets all Citizen Kane on us. And there’s a scene of Andrew Jackson despondantly slicing his arms open to Cher’s “This is a Song For The Lonely” representing his political exile.
Also, it offered what few (i.e. none) rock musicals do, and that is Awesome Song Selections For the Laydeez. Seriously, for all I love angsty outspoken rockicals, the vast majority relegate women to back-up and ballad interludes, but some of BBAJ’s best tunes are sung by the female characters. Rock on.
Insensitive? Tchyeah. Irreverant? Yeah. In dubious taste? At times. Successful at its goals – mini history lesson with a contemporary layer of irony, plus exciting music and ribald brashness accompanied by eye liner throughout? All of that. Yes.
Would my mother hate it and probably want not only a refund but some restitution made to the Cherokee? Yes.
It closes January 2nd, so you should see it while you can. If you’re someone who complains about the Disneyfication of Broadway, then you have NO EXCUSE for not supporting unique theater when it opens its doors.