*1/2 (out of ****)
The emperor -- er, president -- has no clothes and his name is Andrew Jackson.
Sure the mob rule in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson may be all sexypants. But sexy ain't necessarily pretty, unless you mean pretty dumb.
Proudly wearing its anachronistic satire on its tight pant leg, this emo-rock musical ever so loosely based on the life of the seventh president of the United States at least has two considerable things working in its favor: Michael Friedman's bloody good score and its game cast led by the charismatic Benjamin Walker in the title role. It's understandable how these two aspects of the show alone could provide a groundswell of support.
But then there's Alex Timbers' book. Tempted as I am to say it's clever by half, in truth it's rarely clever. There are flashes of brilliance, but too often it parades as a sophomoric "Schoolhouse Rock" with Looney Tunes sound-effects. Except this is a pottymouth history lesson you'd never want your kids to learn if you cared a wit about the all the facts.
While Timbers' anachronistic direction doesn't bother me, his often disingenous deconstruction of early American history does. Yes, there are many parallels that can be drawn between Jackson's time and today. But Timbers' obtuse book fails to connect the dots satisfactorily. So sloppily written is this show at times that you'd think Jackson's biggest headache was in dealing with a Republican-dominated Congress, even though the GOP as we know it wasn't formed until nine years after his death.
I'm fully aware that mobs of critics practically hoisted this Andrew Jackson on their shoulders, celebrating it after first opening earlier this year at the Public Theater. But populism ain't all it's cracked up to be, and I resist mobs.
So even though this mob at least rocked my world, it's incapable of ruling it. As a result, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson fails to earn my vote. Ironically, since the real Andrew Jackson championed the individual, I think he may have understood.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).
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