Right up front I have to say that I did not like, enjoy or find anything remotely amusing with this aberrant and bizarre Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson the Off-Broadway musical hit of last season that is now running at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. It just isn’t my cup of tea – as in Tea Party so to speak. Actually it has me seeing red.
Call me old fashioned but I think it’s time that we take the Broadway musical back from those that for the sake of being “cool” and “out there” and “different” are writing self indulgent shows that have poorly structured books and songs that are better suited to rock concerts.
And in this case, directed by writer Alex Timbers in an over the top, melodramatic lampoon-ish style that attempts to draw into the theatre the angst ridden adolescents of today by making a rock star idol or is it idiot out of the angst ridden 7th President of the United States, Andrew Jackson.
Michael Friedman is responsible for the music and lyrics that are blasted through the speakers so that your ear drums are worn out even before the show begins. As you enter the theatre that has been transformed into a bordello looking lodge with deer heads, lots of red lights, portraits of Presidents and a dead horse suspended above those seated in the orchestra we are given the opportunity to survey the territory designed by Donyale Werle.
With its small on stage band it abruptly begins. “Are you ready?” asks Andrew Jackson (Benjamin Walker) tall, handsome and arrogant. Some response. Louder he repeats his question almost threateningly. Great response and we are off.
Off into the fractured life of a man who was pro slavery, a spoiled child, into cutting himself, hated the Spaniards and the British, wanted to take back all the land that the Indians owned, take back his country for the people, was pro Populism and a bigamist to boot. Interesting guy. Interesting story as told by the motorized wheelchair narrator (Kristine Nielsen) the only character I did like.
But it’s how the story gets told – in short vaudevillian vignettes – that I wasn’t attracted to. It alienated me. I couldn’t get involved or care about the characters with all the anachronistic zaniness going on. And I like zany.
And what’s with not listing the songs? It irks me to no end. Like I said, call me old fashioned.
www.bloodybloodyandrewjackson.com Photo: Joan Marcus