October 1, 2010

Bloody Good!

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is an irreverent, emo-rock musical look at one of America's most controversial leaders. The much-acclaimed show ran at the Public Theater last year, generating tremendous buzz. I had read American Lion:Andrew Jackson in the White House after I saw Jon Stewart interview author Jon Meacham on The Daily Show. I was intrigued by the 7th American President...temperamental, kind and sensitive in some matters, ruthless in others. He was so full of contradictions. He espoused populism and democracy while owning slaves. He signed the law that removed Native American Indians from their lands east of the Mississippi River---the infamous Trail of Tears. Historians have yet to agree on his legacy. But one thing's for sure: the maverick's presidency makes a great source material for political satire.
The show is 90 minutes long without an intermission. It is Spring Awakening/American Idiot/Xanadu, all in one. Filled with pop culture references and quips, it is also social commentary. However, most of our fellow audience members were older, so it seemed like only Pinky and me were laughing at some of the jokes. It occasionally teetered on the edge of being too over-the-top. Heck, even the set designer went overboard, including the whole theater. However, watch out for the 10 Little Indians song. It was very disconcerting.
Jeff Hiller, who I remembered as the naked dead guy in Ricky Gervais's movie, Ghost Town.

My favorite line from the show? He (Jackson) "put the Man in Manifest Destiny".
The show started previews 20 September and officially opens 13 October.
Based on what I've read about Old Hickory, he might not like this show. His mercurial temper might have exploded. He was always so sensitive about his humble origins, so he would probably yell at elitist New Yorkers for having some fun at his expense.
Benjamin Walker plays the soldier/war vet/politician turned Prez. Was he a hero? Or just a genocidal land grabber?
One can see shades of contemporary, rock star politicians like Barack Obama, JFK, even Sarah Palin, in the show's depiction of the former leader.
Maria Elena Ramirez played Rachel, the love of Andrew's life but who was married to another man. Their scandalous union caused such an uproar during their time. And the sad truth is, I'm not sure if they would fare any better in this day and age.
Kate Cullen Roberts
Greg Hildreth


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