Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is a lot of things. Irreverent, intriguing and amusing this one-of-a-kind musical at Actor’s Express, directed by Freddie Ashley, is the next production to make this season one of the theater’s strongest yet.
History buffs beware, this musical doesn’t provide a pure look at the historical Andrew Jackson, nor does it care to do so. Anachronisms (a cell phone and skinny jeans) and blatant inaccuracies (references to the Oval Office) fit seamlessly into the story of the “people’s President.”
Much like South Park or The Family Guy, there are no sacred cows. Anyone and anything can be the butt of the joke at any moment, and most everyone will be equally offended by the politically incorrect dialogue and lyrics. What other musical could get away with the storyteller arriving in a motorized wheelchair fully equipped with a seatbelt?
With a book written by Alex Timbers and lyrics by Michael Friedman, the musical contains sophomoric humor balanced against brilliant witty lines. Likewise the music, composed by Friedman, feels like a disjointed hodgepodge of styles. Some songs have a folksy, country feel while others are pure rock. Similarly, the plot is loosing held together by the central idea that binds the play.
This question asks if Jackson was a champion of populism or a genocidal despot. From his childhood to receiving an honorary doctorate from Harvard, the musical bounces around the events of his life and tries to explore how these events shaped the man. On the whole, it doesn’t succeed in that aspect, but at times, such as how his childhood experiences influenced him, the attempt proves adequate.
The cast is just as uneven as the show itself. Although talented and enjoyable to watch, they never seem to find their stride. As Jackson, Guhkman has all the charisma of a rock star, and his powerful vocals are impressive, espcially in “I’m Not That Guy.” But, it is Kerrie Seymour as the story teller and Jeremy Wood in the Ensemble that stand out. Seymour is delightful and hilarious as the storyteller, giving a memorable performance.
More of an Off-Broadway show than a traditional Broadway musical, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, directed by Freddie Ashley, fits in well at Actor’s Express, and it features an outstanding set design by Kat Conley. While the show may be a bit uneven, it is entertaining and a unique experience well worth the admission. The musical runs through February 17, 2013. For tickets and more information, please visit the theater’s website. The show is 90 minutes with no intermission.
– Kenny Norton