Posts Tagged ‘Benjamin Walker’

Review – Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson – Jacobs Theater NYC

October 6, 2010

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson: what is the hype about? Even from London I was hearing people say, “This is a must-see show!” “The new musical of the fall!” And so I bought tickets. Then I got to NYC and there are posters everywhere showing what looks like the cover of “Born in the USA” and talking about sexy pants. Other than the fact it was going to go for just under two hours without an interval (point in its favor really), just what was I about to see?

Walking into the Bernard Jacobs theater (down the street from Elf and Driving Miss Daisy), I was faced with an atmosphere of seedy frontier-ism – a stuffed horse hung from the ceiling (and over the audience), there were all sorts of mounted animal heads on the stage as well as an antler chandelier, the entire house had been turned into an extension of the set with red lights and Western paraphernalia everywhere. The whole place looked like an environment where anything could happen. I thought, bring it on!

So … as it turns out, this isn’t a traditional type musical (a la Avenue Q) where you have songs that you want to sing afterward – instead, it’s one of those, I think, rock type musicals (a la Spring Awakening) where the actors grab microphones and sing songs to the audience, or to each other, that sort of express what they’re thinking, but not in any kind of particularly tuneful way, just … kinda forgettable rock songs in my book.

However, the show itself is a tornado of energy with an impact that surpasses its thin-on-the-ground songbook. All of the arrogance and idiocy of Andrew Jackson’s presidency is on full display with no apologies or idolization (even of the slavery situation, which to me honest seems like small beans given how many Indians he slaughtered), and while it sounds like a dull school book, instead it is a hot pants-wearing, icon breaking, history-bending journey of every contradiction and all of the fucked-uppedness that makes America the schizophrenic nation it is today. It’s a great mirror of the Teabagger-frenzy for populism – it gets support as long as the people’s goals suit the goals of the people in power. And once you’ve got power on that big old “government for the people” platform, you just do whatever the hell you want, right?

Despite the damnable fun-ness of this show, I’m just not buying it having legs. A big theater like the Jacobs costs a pile to keep running, and I’m not imagining the people paying for the shows nearby – shows either very fuzzy wuzzy or with intellectual pretensions – really wanting to go to something so obnoxious and tasteless (i.e. shooting a woman in an wheelchair, a joke about Susan Sontag having cancer, the character who drooled ropes of spit so long they were flung into the audience). I saw some people leaving no more than ten minutes into the show – possibly offended by all of the penis jokes – and I could see a lot of what I consider the typical Broadway audience fleeing in droves – or, in this case, just not bothering to buy tickets. If that’s the case, this show will probably have a vivid life on the fringe, right next to “Cannibal, the Musical”- but I’m afraid that in my crystal ball, I’m seeing a short run for this show. That said, if this sounds like your kind of show, I recommend buying a ticket soon if you want to see it in its fully-fledged Broadway glory.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Monday, October 4th, 2010.)