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“A phantasmagorical journey through the life and presidency of Andrew Jackson. . .
this wild and woolly excursion into history is a rockin' riot, filled with catchy tunes and
funny, anachronistic humor that rarely misses the mark. . . This is must-see
modern musical theatre at its finest (and weirdest).” – Chris Gibson, BroadwayWorld
“I can hardly think of a better way to catch a break from the onslaught of
this year's presidential campaign than to check out this saucy, contemporary,
in-your-face look at our seventh president.” – Andrea Torrence, St. Louis Theatre Snob
“Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is frantic, antic and full of surprises as it speculates on
how the west was really won and how America creates its heroes.” – Mark Bretz, Ladue News
“You won't find too many musicals that push the envelope harder than this.” – Jeff Ritter, The Trades
“It’s the most fun you’re ever likely to spend with a politician.” – Steve Allen, Stagedoor STL
Shootouts, smallpox and scalpings – growing up on the American Frontier could be killer! Hoping to kick some British butt and bitch-slap the Spaniards, thirteen-year old Andrew Jackson joins the Army and grows up to become America’s first populist president and the country's greatest rock star since George Washington.
Yes, It's the early nineteenth century, the Age of Jackson, and America's seventh President is creating the Democratic Party, driving the Native Americans West, doubling the size of the country, and wearing the tightest jeans in politics.
Just in time for election season, New Line Theatre opened its 22nd season with the St. Louis premiere of BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON. This outrageous, audacious, hard-rocking mix of historical fact and fiction redefines America's controversial seventh President through a time-bending funhouse mirror that reveals the jacked-up political landscape of America in 2012.
With music and lyrics by Michael Friedman and a script by writer-director Alex Timbers, this rowdy blend of outrageous comedy, anarchic theatricality and an infectious emo rock score overflows with insightful, comic parallels to our dysfunctional politics today, right from the show's aggressive opening number, "Populism, Yea Yea!"
New Line assembled an all-star cast of veteran New Liners, including John Sparger as Jackson, D. Mike Bauer, Stephanie Brown, Brian Claussen, Mike Dowdy, Zachary Allen Farmer, Amy Kelly, Nicholas Kelly, Todd Micali, Taylor Pietz, Sarah Porter, BC Stands, and Chrissy Young. Sparger has previously played leads for New Line in Jesus Christ Superstar, Hair, Johnny Appleweed, and Evita. Almost half this cast also appeared in last season's monster hits Cry-Baby and High Fidelity. Scott Miller directed Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Justin Smolik led the New Line Band. Amy Kelly designed costumes, with Kenneth Zinkl designing lights, Scott L. Schoonover designing the set, and Donald Smith designing sound.
Andrew Jackson is the Rorschach Test of Americans Presidents, so complicated that almost everyone can find something in him that resonates. He was equal parts Barack Obama (charismatic populist), John McCain (crusty war hero), Sarah Palin (loud, clumsy outsider), and George W. Bush (cocky, loyal, and confident). His first biographer James Parton wrote, “Andrew Jackson, I am given to understand, was a patriot and a traitor. He was one of the greatest of generals, and wholly ignorant of the art of war. A writer brilliant, elegant, eloquent, without being able to compose a correct sentence, or spell words of four syllables. The first of statesmen, he never devised, he never framed a measure. He was the most candid of men, and was capable of the profoundest dissimulation. A most law-defying, law-obeying citizen. A stickler for discipline, he never hesitated to disobey his superior. A democratic autocrat. An urbane savage. An atrocious saint.”
The off Broadway and Broadway productions garnered rave reviews from the press. The Los Angeles Times called it “goofy, daring. . . The product of sensibilities shaped by the topical ironies of Jon Stewart and the profane zaniness of South Park . . . Imagine Avenue Q with a master’s degree in American history. Or Brecht for people who secretly find him a bore.” Variety said, “Call it provocative anarchy, a 21st-century equivalent to the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup. The authors are inarguably and entertainingly laissez-unfair to the Founding Fathers, tea-bagging Republicans, right-wing populists, Native Americans, and just about whatever targets dart past their flyswatters.”
Ben Brantley wrote in The New York Times, “You’re going to shake, rattle and roll when he makes you the ultimate promise, the one you truly want to hear from anyone who aspires to lead your nation: He solemnly swears to give you the best sex you’ve ever had. Thus does the man known as Old Hickory, poured into a pair of tight black jeans and fiercely embodied by a microphone-riding Benjamin Walker, take the stage in the rowdy, dopey and devastatingly shrewd Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Alex Timbers’s and Michael Friedman’s emo-rock musical – which makes the case that this country’s relationship with its president is always deeply and irrationally personal – has returned to stake a claim as the most entertaining and most perceptive political theater of the season.”
The Public Theatre’s artistic director Oskar Eustis wrote about the show in the cast album’s liner notes, "I think Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is an experiment appropriate for our times. It may be about our seventh president, but it tackles the core of American populism – that ebullient, sentimental, no-nonsense, self-pitying, anti-intellectual, rowdy energy that is at the core of our national identity – with a precision and wit that speaks totally to our moment. The show invokes reactionary pleasures in order to savagely criticize them. It is a dangerous game, but Friedman and Timbers play it brilliantly. This is who we are, and if it’s horrifying, it can also be a lot of fun. What a contradiction, America. . . Who says political theatre can’t rock?"
to explore more? We recommend:
The original Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson Broadway cast album
Director Scott Miller's background and analysis essay about the show
Two very good books about Jackson, Andrew Jackson and The Birth of Modern Politics: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and the Election of 1828
Director Scott Miller's behind-the-scenes blog
A PBS interview with the BBAJ author and original director Alex Timbers
A great Broadway.com video of BBAJ songwriter Michael Friedman discussing his score
A short Jackson biography on the White House website
The book Nature's Metropolis, which inspired the song "Second Nature" in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
The history behind the show's epilogue, "The Hunters of Kentucky," a cover of a real folk song about The Battle of New Orleans -- which was also Andrew Jackson's campaign song in his Presidential run.
The PBS documentary Andrew Jackson: Good, Evil and the Presidency and the accompanying webpage with tons of cool links and info. Also, the History Channel's Andrew Jackson and the full Andrew Jackson episode of the History Channel series, The Conquerors, on YouTube
The Andrew Jackson page on C-Span's American Presidents website, with tons of very cool links, video, portraits, historical documents, and more, including both his inaugural addresses. And also, pages on other characters in BBAJ, including Martin Van Buren, John Quincy Adams, and James Monroe
A most awesome Andrew Jackson Bobble Head