Off Broadway (and sometimes Broadway) Reviews and Information.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bloody Bloddy Andrew Jackson: Extended Until May 31

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson was recently extended until May 31st at New York’s Public Theater (www.publictheater.org). If you enjoy a raucous good time, enjoy (or can tolerate) emo-rock music, remember your teen angst, or interested in how Benjamin Walker can make Andrew Jackson the personification of youthful anger, angst and sexiness, then go now and see it.

This show has been bathed in superlatives since it opened, which unfortunately sets expectations sky high. And, for some people, the explosion of sound, fury and fun doesn’t live up to the hype – particular if they were expecting a detailed exploration of our 7th President from a Rock Musical.
.
But gang, for me Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson was an outlet, a rave, a party and a celebration of the complexity of American spirit and just plain fucking fun. I use the expletive purposefully here because if the use of the word fuck bothers you – do not see this show. The play though done in the current vernacular, is set in the early 1900s. It is full of modern vocal vulgarities and historical prejudices. It is, as warned in the Playbill, extremely incorrect, politically speaking.
.
Credit has to go to writer / director ALEX TIMBERS and music & lyrics writer MICHAEL FRIEDMAN for daring to run everyone so over the top to such good effect. If you know a little something about Andrew Jackson – it helps. If you don’t remember any of your 4th grade US history – it’s okay, the show fills you in on the basics in a new and groundbreaking way.The cast is great, with Lucas Near-Verbrugghe as Van Buren and Jeff Hiller as JQ Adams as comic standouts. Their portrayals of these Presidents will make you think twice about the Founding Fathers.



But the scene stealer, the star, the narcissistic flame at the center of this show is Benjamin Walker who plays Andrew Jackson with a sexy sheen and enough petulance to make you aware of the kid underneath. He combines this duality in much the same way Ashton Kutcher did early in his career, and with a minimal amount of exposure and some luck Mr. Walker could be just as big. See him while you can. He tears up the stage as Andrew Jackson.
In a completely non-traditional method, the play actually explores the meaning and results of populism and national destiny. It looks back at a time when our nation was pulled between traditional growth models, and wild west swagger. It emerges with a shitload of fun, but no easy answers.
.
Finally, I would be remise if I didn’t note that the set, the stage, the house is fabulously immersive (by DONYALE WERLE). It crawls from the stage along the walls and ceiling engulfing the audience. A riot of neon, chandeliers, Christmas lights, portraits and log cabin paraphernalia screams Frontier boy teen-age room just as posters of Hot Rods and St. Pauley girls might today. It is “ego” gone mad. It, like the entire show, left me gob-smacked.
---------------------------------------------
BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON
*
Rating: SEE IT!!
*
What works: Benjamin Walker, the amazing presentation of this story
*
What doesn't work: if you can’t stand a rock musical – you will not like it
*
What you get to brag about to your friends: You saw it. This show will remain in the hearts and memories of anyone who was lucky enough to see it for a long time. Years from now people will say “Remember Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” and you can say, “Remember it?! I saw it at the Public!”
---------------------------------------------

1 comment: