Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, musical, Broadway – review

When in the course of human events (like attending musicals), one sits in the theater waiting for the music to begin, then one begins to wonder how this skit-comedy with emo-rock snippets of song came to be labeled a “musical”…at any rate, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, despite generally rave reviews, has posted its closing notice for next week.

Here’s the thing. I didn’t like Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson as a musical, at all. I VERY much liked BBAJ as a skit-comedy with some terrific political things to say that apply to the US today as they did in Andrew Jackson’s time. His legacy is clearly visible today. Where this falls apart is the music. I’ve never been a fan of emo-rock; I don’t like people screaming their thoughts at me to tuneless alt-rock atonalities for ninety minutes. In this case- the total music in this 99 minute show clocks in at 24 minutes, and that includes all the reprises and interludes…the rest of this show is Sketch Comedy of the old lower-East Village variety. It’s entertaining. It’s funny. But it’s not a musical.

Many people I very much trust recommended the show as one of their favorites of the year. Ben Brantley raved about it in the NYTimes. It had to be the best thing ever. Well…I beg to disagree.

The best part of the show, by far, was the amazing performance by Benjamin Walker as Andrew Jackson – he has the swagger of a rock star, with the acting chops of someone much more accomplished. Pity the audience goer that gets an understudy if he is ever out of the show (I understand he does not miss performances). The theater itself is also cleverly “outfitted” with all manner of presidential portraits, taxidermied animals, American Indian paraphernalia, and many clever politically symbolic items – including a stuffed donkey hanging in the middle of the theater. Every corner of the theater is stuffed with “stuff”…

This was a wildly popular show down at the Public last season. That enthusiasm has clearly not transferred to the Broadway production – the audience was one third empty at my weekend performance, and not surprisingly, the show is closing.

Don’t get me wrong here — I had a very good time at this funny, thoughtful, and irreverent show. But it’s not a musical.

Here’s a look at the show:

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