Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson Theater Review - A Presidential Musical

Renegade, Rebel, 7th U.S. President

If someone had to write a report on the legacy and contributions of out seventh U.S. President, I would have to say that the Center Theater Group’s production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is probably not as good as cliff notes. Or is it? This collaboration between writer/director Alex Timber and composer Michael Friedman contains the neat wit and wicked irreverence of any South Park episode, and dares to out it all to music.

Blo ody Bloody Andrew Jackson paints Jackson as Tennessee trash, a child orphaned on the new frontier when his family is all killed, figuratively by the aristocratic New England government who will send no support or protection to the young nation’s frontiersmen and women, literally by the arrows of the Indians. His wartime, two month-long captivity fanned his hate of the British. And lastly, he hated the Spaniards because, well, they were Spanish.

Jackson was a war hero that enjoyed the popularity and recognition of a modern day rock star, with everyone laughing at his jokes, praising his acts of bravery and admiring his courage of conviction. Fantastically angsty, tortured, brooding and misunderstood (but looking really hot throughout it all), women wanted him and men wanted to be him.

This musical depicts Andrew Jackson as a man rabidly for the people, of the people, by the people. In the spirit of true equal representation in government, Jackson formed and win the 7th presidency under the newly formed Democratic party. However, his failing came out of the naivety that one can “be the people” and also still be a leader.

The acting performances were the real star of this musical. Each actor gave broad, vivid portrayals of a multitude of characters, tirelessly winding the hand of time back and forth with endless costume changes. This company of actors appeared and vanished magically on cue with seamless precision. I particularly enjoyed the Storyteller ( Taylor Wilcox) and Van Buren ( Brian Hostenske); both parts are fashioned to be audience favorites.

The vocal arrangements were fairly simply. I think of the fifteen performers on stage and can only mourn what I feel may have been a missed opportunity to create a real symphony out of these voices. While all the vocal performances were fine to good, I just didn’t found myself humming any tunes from the show in the subsequent days. The lyrics were very clever, but for me the music just didn’t stick. And I love music. Kudos, however, to the three-piece band that remained in stage the entire time.

The lighting design, set design and costuming were splendidly orchestrated, working in unison to transform and transport the company from the early 1820s Frontier land to contemporary House of Blues concert hall to photographs in the pages of any modern history book. Congratulations to the production team. Well done.

Impressive costumes and set design of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

If you are not hypersensitive to the victimization of the Native Americans during the colonization of America, you will find this to be a very funny show. Nor is this show for those who have strong feelings about the villainy of Andrew Jackson’s actions during his presidency and his lifetime. It has tongue planted firmly in cheek throughout, save for late in the third act when it dares to take itself seriously.

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is running now thru February 17th, 2008 at:

Kirk Douglas Theatre
Downtown Culver City

9820 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

For tickets and informaition visit: http://www.centertheatregroup.org/

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