Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Our seventh President gets a punk rock makeover in this fun new travesty.
Tue Apr 6 2010
ROCK THE VOTE Walker leads the nation to glory.
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>5/5
Annoyed by smug coastal elites who sip latte with pinkies pointing to Mecca? Outraged that people of a certain melanin level are trying to take your guns, your God, your home? Good news, Teabag Nation: Your musical has arrived. Andrew Jackson is here to shove the country back on course, and he's got a kick-ass pop-punk band to help. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is a new breed of rock musical, the dementedly sassy love child of South Park and Spring Awakening. From socialist rabble-rousers to Hutaree inbreds, this fist-pumping historical travesty has something for every disenfranchised groupie.
But there's more. To wit: acknowledging the downside of being all things to all people. The creators of this whip-smart entertainment gleefully tickle the creepy, racist underbelly of populism, where ignorance meets insularity. By fusing rural America's perennial paranoia of being invaded to the teen-angst idiom of emo rock, songwriter Michael Friedman and book writer/director Alex Timbers build a perfect pomo, transhistorical frame to lampoon the life and political career of our seventh President (played with towering charisma by Benjamin Walker). The supporting cast is equally on fire, including Colleen Werthmann's chipper Storyteller, who perseveres despite a bullet in the neck.
When it ran a year ago as part of the Public Theater's Lab series, I wasn't crazy about Bloody Bloody (coproduced by Les Freres Corbusier). But this bolder, brighter, tighter remount is undeniable fun. Perhaps, shoehorned into the Public's boxy Shiva space, it previously felt like we had been invited to an overly slick backer's audition. Now Donyale Werle's collage set (red curtains, ropes, oil paintings of past Presidents and taxidermied animals) spills off the bigger Newman Theater stage into the house. Sure enough, Walker swaggers among the spectators to do some up-close-and-personal polling. Timbers's physical expansion optimizes the joke-crammed, head-bopping material, and neatly reminds us that Jackson fought and killed like a maniac to expand the boundaries of our nation.