Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson tells the story of the seventh president of the United States of America, from his humble beginnings on the frontier of Tennessee, to “hero” of wars against the Spanish, English, and Indians, to the White House. Andrew Jackson has dreams of overthrowing the Washington “elite” (sound familiar?) and becoming “the people’s president,” but he soon discovers that a president has to make the hard decisions, and is never going to please everyone. One of the things Jackson is most known for is “Indian removal,” having convinced many Native American tribes to sign treaties under false pretenses and move west, resulting in the infamous Trail of Tears (the song "Ten Little Indians" recounts the number of ways that Native Americans died at the hands of the white man). As the narrator of the piece says, historians are still debating whether Jackson was a hero or a genocidal murderer. The musical deals with this serious subject matter in a satirical, campy, and over-the-top way. Young Andrew is portrayed as a petulant teenager, and the politicians as idiots. It's a ridiculous and fantastical mash-up of history that's intended to entertain and make a statement about our past and present.
|Logan Greene and Philip C. Matthews
(photo by Byron Ritter)
The show looks and feels like a rock concert, with bright lights, microphone stands, and modern rock costumes with an Old West twist. Unfortunately there were some sound issues on opening night, with headset mics going in and out or sounding muffled or staticky. Hopefully they'll work these issues out, but I would prefer that they lose the headset mics altogether and just use the hand-held mics for the more loud, rocky songs. I believe Philip's mic went out halfway through the show and I'm not sure it ever came back on, but you could still hear him and he sounded fantastic. The advantage of a small space like New Century is that you don't necessary need to mic everyone all the time.
|the cast rocks out (photo by Byron Ritter)
Even though this is a hugely entertaining and fun show, it goes deeper than that. At the end of the show I was left with a feeling of sadness, that this is the way our country was built. The beautifully poignant song "Second Nature," which plays over a video montage of pivotal moments in our nation's history, says it best:
The grass grows, a prairie
A wilderness across a continent
And we take it
We clear it out and make it
In our image
The backyards, the driveways
The covered wagons rushing
Through the high planes,
The motels on the canyon
They make a second nature
And what was it for, this country
the farms and the blood across a prairie
the nation we became as we build a second nature
This article also appears on Broadway World Minneapolis.