BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON: A BLEEPING GOOD TIME - Bailiwick Theater Review

BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON, the cheeky musical sensation that took New York by storm and traces the life of our controversial seventh president, is being given its local premiere by Bailiwick Chicago. The show is a fast-moving rock n roll ride, shifting from broad, comic scenes into more serious moments before the audience can even catch its breath, and demanding mercurial turns from its cast. The highly energized Bailiwick cast is up to the task, one minute delivering laugh lines with broad comic tone, the next minute delivering information of such horrifying import that the audience is shocked into silence.

Matthew Holzfeind (front, center) as Andrew Jackson with the Bailiwick Chicago cast



Alex Timbers (Book) and Michael Friedman (Music & Lyrics) created the show to examine Jackson’s legacy: Populism, the creation of the Democratic Party, US Expansionism, and the Indian Removal Act. But this is not the lecture you remember from your college Poly-Sci class. This show sticks its middle figure up history’s @$$, creating a raw, off-center experience while “delving into some serious s**t!”

(Warning: If you find the above language offensive, this show may not be for you. And probably not for your 11 year old who is working on his biography of Andrew Jackson for his Jr High social studies class.)

Kyle A. Gibson (face in bucket), Harter Clingman and Hannah Corneau as Jackson's parents



BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON has been characterized as taking a “SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK” approach to history so it seems only fitting that Bailiwick asked Scott Ferguson, the creator of “SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK LIVE!”, to direct. Ferguson has a wonderful understanding of the comic tone of the script, though sometimes the broader comic bits slow down a show that works best when it keeps its edgier, scene-kids cool. His direction overall is inventive and fun and he makes great use of Nick Sieben’s terrific minimalist set and DJ Reeds’ sometimes hilarious props.

Matthew Holzfeind as Andrew Jackson



Matt Holzfeind brings some big acting chops to the difficult role of Andrew Jackson. The show is basically a chronological account of Jackson’s life, so Holzfeind must move from confused, orphan boy to rock star candidate to embattled and embittered president. It’s not an easy journey but Holzfeind has what it takes. The show works best for me when Holzfeind dropps the slightly Jim Carrey-ish persona and fully embraces the charismatic rock star and anguished president. His scene late in the play with the wonderful Varris Homles as Chief Blackhawk and Dylan M. Lainez as Jackson’s adopted son Lyncoya, is one of the highlights of the show.

Judy Lea Steele as The Storytellerand Matthew Holzfeind as Andrew Jackson



The hard working, talented ensemble play a multiplicity of roles throughout and look fabulous in Kate Setzer Kamphausen’s costumes. Jill Sesso deserves a shout-out for “Ten Little Indians”, Patrick Rooney for “Second Nature,” Judy Lea Steele for her eccentric and tenacious Storyteller, and Kyle A Gibson for making me laugh every time he opens his mouth.

Matthew Holzfeind (front, center) as Andrew Jackson with the Bailiwick Chicago cast



But for me, the real star of the show is Matt Deitchman, who leads the incredibly fabulous on-stage Jam Band. A great singer who completely “gets” the musical style of the piece (“Second Nature” is a highlight), Deitchman plays lead guitar throughout, except when he takes a turn on – I kid you not – the trombone, which he plays exceptionally well. (Dude. You Are Awesome.) Shout out to the whole band: James Morehead on keyboards, Patrick Rooney on guitar, Cody Goose Siragusa on bass, and Lindsay Williams on drums.

Matthew Holzfeind (front, center) as Andrew Jackson with the Bailiwick Chicago cast



The show is a sound designer’s nightmare: small space with a rock band. The band is loud, the hand-mics are cranked so the soloists can be heard above the band, and the singers not on hand-helds can’t be heard during the really raucous numbers so the audience misses out on some great lyrics and harmonies. And because the cast obviously feels they have to shout over the music, the vocal sound is not always what it could be. As one of our famous 21st Century Jacksons might say, it can get “a little pitchy, dawg.” Hopefully, all the sound related challenges will be worked out as everyone gets used to the acoustics of the room.

BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON takes the audience on a 90-minute wild ride through history. Kudos to the Bailiwick team for bringing the show to Chicago and giving the audience such a #*%&ing good time!

WHAT:

Bailiwick Chicago presents BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON

WHERE:                      

National Pastime Theater, 941 W. Lawrence Ave., 4th Floor, Chicago

WHEN:                        

Thursday, October 11 – Saturday, November 10

Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 6 pm.

(No performance Saturday, October 27)

FREE Election Night performance Tuesday, November 6 at 9 pm

(must show proof that you voted)

TICKET INFO:            

$25 (Thursdays/Sundays), $30 (Fridays, Saturdays); $20 students &seniors (Thursdays & Sundays only, must show ID); $15 industry (Thursdays & Sundays only)

Presidential Pass: $70 includes VIP seating at BLOODY BLOOD ANDREW

JACKSON and a ticket to Billy Pacholski's ASSASSINS (an $80value)

Tickets are available at bailiwickchicago.com

Groups over 8 or more should e-mail [email protected]

PARKING:

Street parking is free near the theater.          

$5 paid parking is at Weiss Hospital Parking Deck, 4650 N. Clarendon.

Bring parking ticket to theater for validation and payment.

Parking voucher valid from 6 pm- 4 am on show days.

 

Samantha Dubina and Matthew Holzfeind as Rachel and Andrew Jackson



Photos courtesy of Michael Brosilow and Bailiwick Chicago.

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