t’s amazing what people will write plays about these days. That’s a good thing, because it’s pretty difficult to come up with an original idea. When you’ve got one, you run with it. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is one of those “crazy” ideas. It’s a musical about the life of America’s seventh president, and it’s definitely not your run-of-the-mill historical play.
My girlfriend and I saw the play on June 15th at Phoenix Theatre. It was hilarious, irreverent, profane, and only occasionally historically accurate. In other words, we really enjoyed it. It has a rock ‘n’ roll score, which a friend described as “My Chemical Romance does Broadway.” In lieu of an official review, I’ll just say we thought the acting and singing were superb, especially Caleb Reese, of the local rock band “The Instant Classics,” as Old Hickory (which, the play informed us, was actually a nickname for Jackson’s penis.) The music, which included the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling,” was pretty catchy. The song, “Populism, Yeah Yeah” is still stuck in my head.
As I said before, if you want something that’s true to historical fact, this isn’t the play for you. Jackson struts around like a rock star, wearing a jacket with “AJ” and a lighting bolt in sequins on the back. He calls his friends “bro,” contacts constituents on a red telephone, and refers to his rivals in the Whig Party as “Republicans,” though the GOP wasn’t founded until 1854. In the play Jackson’s parents both perish on the same night. In real life, their deaths were 14 years apart.
In the most important respects, however, the play captured the spirit of the man- brash, egotistical and amoral. The word “bloody” in the title refers to the wars he fought, and to his appalling treatment of Native Americans. Most of us know that Jackson fought “the bloody British in the town of New Orleans”, which the play does mention. (Sadly they didn’t – or perhaps weren’t allowed to – use the iconic Jimmy Driftwood song.) Jackson was also a “hero” of the Creek and Seminole Indian Wars, and as President, he was responsible for the Indian Removal Act, which led to the infamous “Trail of Tears.”
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, written by Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman, is showing at the Phoenix Theatre (located at Central and McDowell) though June 23, 2013. Depending on your location in time and space, this information may not do you much good (assuming you are out there) but if you get a chance to see this play, I’d recommend it.