Review: 'Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson'

September 26, 2012
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

 

Okay, so “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” has many jokes that miss. Its book meanders. Its characters aren’t always consistent. Too often, it underlines messages that have already been more creatively delivered elsewhere in the show.

And, as presented by the Phoenix Theatre (through Oct. 21), it still manages to be one of the most entertaining musicals I’ve seen in a long while. Don’t be surprised if you can’t get in because of sold-out shows partially populated by people seeing it two or three times.

It’s thrilling to see a musical done well. It’s even more thrilling to see a musical done well for an audience that, for the most part, is completely unfamiliar with the material.

That’s the case with “BBAJ.” Yes, it’s a chronicle of the life and works of our 7th president, but it tells that story filtered through contemporary sensibilities, attitudes and tunesmithing. Along the way, it throws in the audiences’ faces the downside of populism, asking the question: Do you really want a President who truly represents the American people? 

I’m not sure of the mental state of the producers who thought this would work on Broadway (where it ran for only about three months in 2010). The Phoenix, and other small theaters like it, is where this show belongs. Here, on a salon set festooned with taxidermied creatures and a tacky chandelier, we get Jackson’s youth, his realization that he’s the guy who can change the country, the down and up of both his failed and his successful run for Commander in Chief, and a visit to the Jackson White House where a bong-hitting Native American and a pair of clueless cheerleaders pass for a cabinet.

Solid directing and restrained choreography certainly make a difference (this isn’t the kind of show when the beginning of a dance should seem obvious). So does the uniformly fine cast, who are given plenty of room for silliness but never upstage the Pres, played charismatically—and well sung—by Eric Olson.

But the star of the “BBAJ” is the music. Apart from the seemingly endless “Ten Little Indians” number, song after song rocks in creative, fun ways. Tim Brickley’s on stage band handles the chores with gusto. And composer/lyricist Michael Friedman gets that if we are going to care what happens to this guy, he’s going to have to be, as one song blatantly says, a rock star. And a genuine one, not a Broadway-lite one.

Add in a kicking curtain-call song (“The Hunters of Kentucky”) and it adds up to a show well worth a repeat visit. I’d certainly go again, but I wouldn’t want to take your seat.

If there’s any justice in America, there won’t be many at the Phoenix to spare.

Your thoughts?

ADVERTISEMENT
  • okay, I 'm selfish
    I don't care if I do take someone else'e seat: I loved this silly/serious show and I want to see it again. Hope Baugh (@IndyTheatre)

Post a comment to this blog

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
  1. Thank you to the scientists who care enough to find a cure. We are so lucky that their intelligence has brought them to these understandings because it is through these understandings that we have new hope. Certainly the medicine will be expensive, these drugs usually are, especially the ones that are not mass produced. If I know anything from the walks that my town has put on for FA it is this: people care and people want to help. Donations and financial support can and will come to those who need it. All we need is a cure, the money will come. I mean, look at what these scientists have done thanks to the generosity of donors. 30 million dollars brings us here where we can talk about a drug's existence! There is so much to be frustrated about in this world, but this scientific break is not one of them. I am so happy for this new found hope. Thank you so much to the scientists who have been slaving away to help my friends with FA. We wish you speedy success in the time to come!

  2. I love tiny neighborhood bars-- when I travel city to city for work, it's my preference to find them. However, too many still having smoking inside. So I'm limited to bars in the cities that have smoking bans. I travel to Kokomo often, and I can promise, I'll be one of those people who visit the ma and pa bars once they're smoke free!

  3. I believe the issue with keystone & 96th was due to running out of funds though there were other factors. I just hope that a similar situation does not befall ST RD 37 where only half of the overhaul gets built.

  4. It's so great to see a country founded on freedom uphold the freedom for all people to work and patronize a public venue without risking their health! People do not go to bars to smoke, they can take it outside.

  5. So, Hurko, mass transit has not proven itself in Indy so we should build incredibly expensive train lines? How would that fix the lack of demand? And as far as those double decker buses to bus people in from suburbs, we can't fill up a regular sized buses now and have had to cancel lines and greatly subsidize others. No need for double decker buses there.

ADVERTISEMENT