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Friday, November 5, 2010

BROADWAY ALERT: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson Highly Recommended By Whom You Know! Benjamin Walker Brings Down the House, Upcoming Mover and Shaker Bryce Pinkham Stars in a Leading Role and Everyone In the Cast Excels In the Spirit of America! Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is a Must-See For Everyone Including Our Less Inclined Theater-Goer Readers: Invitingly Irreverent, WE JUST LOVED IT!!!

You do not need to convince Peachy Deegan that American History is cool; she majored in it in college.  For the rest of the world that might need more convincing, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson captivates every soul in the audience with American spirit that transcends any musical we have ever seen.  With some rock and roll and great-natured humor, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson will delight you from the hilarious storyteller to the exaggerated everything depicted from beginning to end.   Benjamin Walker excelled in every aspect of the Presidential role and shows that being a leader is lonely; his versatile talents from singing to humor to the few serious moments convinced us all that Jackson deserves your attention from a historical perspective.

Why is our Broadway Alert column so small?  It is because there are so few shows worthy of high accolades, and we absolutely loved Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.  At Whom You Know we have our pinkies up usually, but not here.  We truly appreciated the unorthodox fun of this whole Broadway escapade!

When you get into the Jacobs theatre, you'll see red lights everywhere, antlers in the chandelier, and a set that is just amazing.  The story is real; there is no sugar coating on it.  Jackson starts off early on with a rendition of how "his life sucks" and the direct nature of the whole storyline is entirely entertaining.  It does contain strong language but it is central to the whole feeling of the American extravaganza.  The bar scenes early on are excellent (Peachy was ready to run up on stage with a bottle of Star Vodka to share with them.)

The true frontier feeling is something most people can relate to as Jackson and the protagonists buck the New England Aristocracy and the European nature of previous Presidential administrations.  Up against the English, the Spanish and the George Washington aristocrats, Jackson will be the one you find yourself routing for throughout no matter how politically incorrect he may be.  We love it!

The bloody nature, on the other hand, goes so far as to become part of Jackson's courtship with his wife which only adds to the hilarity.  Do not worry if blood grosses you out (it grosses Peachy out) it is not THAT bloody.  Van Buren we found particularly entertaining as well and we would like to try what he's eating...and we'd like to know what hair products both he and Clay use!  They worked very well from our view.  (Obviously you know we are big hair product critics...)

You'll become versed in:
*The history of Florida (Jackson got it for us!)
*Some new creatively naughty language; Peachy is already telling people she wants to teabag them...
*How he should have been the 6th not 7th president but John Quincy Adams kind of had an "in"

Bryce Pinkham makes wearing a weasel the hottest trend this fall on stage, and he and all actors and actresses involved are highly talented.  This is a young cast that should not be overlooked.  Not one mistake was made during the whole performance and Peachy Deegan has four pages of notes to prove it.

Our panelist who is a performer herself, states:

What do you get when you take the best elements of 1776, Rent, and Spring Awakening, add a whole lotta blood, a whole lotta sexy, and a whole lotta irreverence to boot?  Well, I would imagine it would be something to the effect of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, but that description doesn't even begin to do this brilliant production justice!  Starting with the basic story of our 7th president (and taking many liberties along the way), this musical is at once a history lesson, a rock show, and a thought-provoking work of theatre.  It turns one of our earliest Commander-in-Chiefs into a literal rock star and effectively conveys how popular he was among the "common people."  As one of the founders of the Democratic Party, he was elected "by the people and for the people."  He was the first "commoner" with no ties to the Founding Fathers or the political elite in Washington to be elected to the highest office in the country.  He was daring, exciting, rambunctious, and truly cared about his brethren.  The play also explores, however, the downside of being "one of the guys" - people don't necessarily want a president that they'd enjoy having a beer with; they want a president who makes decisions and allows them to feel protected and taken care of!   And, while "A.J." was extremely popular, there was also a great deal of bloodshed under his reign.  He displaced countless Native American tribes and invaded Florida and chased the Spaniards without the permission of then-president Monroe.  One of his biggest legacies is the "Trail of Tears."  By the end of the show, it's hard to decide whether he was, indeed, one of the best presidents the country has ever had or one of the worst.  Even though atrocities were committed under his direction, he can also be seen as a sympathetic character faced with very hard decisions and truly trying to do what was best for his people.  What's easier to discern, though, is the sheer brilliance of this young cast.  Headed by Benjamin Walker in the title role, this is, across the board, one of the best ensembles I have ever seen.  Spirited, energetic, creative, engaging, and highly entertaining, each and every member of this cast is phenomenal.  Most ensemble members play multiple roles, each of which is given its own thoroughly developed character and played with conviction.  High praise is also deserved by the creative team behind this show.  Writer/Director Alex Timbers and Composer/Lyricist Michael Friedman have broken the mold with their collaboration.  The script is well-written and very, very clever, and the rock music score is fantastic!  It keeps the energy of the show high, furthers the storyline, and feels fresh and exciting.  In addition to his obvious talents as a writer, Mr. Timbers' direction is also outstanding.  Under his masterful guidance, this show has developed from a workshop at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2006 to one of the best things to hit Broadway in years!  I'm elated that I was able to see it...and from now on, whenever I pull out a $20 bill, I'm going to have a smile on my face as I remember this wonderful theatrical experience!

Go support the President of the People.
Being American is hip, knowing American history is even hipper, and going to see Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson reinforces all of this!  
Absolutely brilliant, there is not one aspect that is weak: the script, the actors, the costumes, the set and the total execution are bloody excellent.  What are you waiting for, the 4th of July?  Don't wait, go see Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson now; Whom You Know highly recommends it!!!

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