Review Roundup: BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON


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Bloody Bloody Andrew JacksonIn BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON, rising star BENJAMIN WALKER reprises his role as America's first political maverick. A.J. kicked British butt, shafted the Indians and smacked down the Spaniards all in the name of these United States-who cares if he didn't have permission? An exhilarating and white-knuckled look at one of our nation's founding rock stars, BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON recreates and reinvents the life of "Old Hickory," from his humble beginnings on the Tennessee frontier to his days as our seventh Commander-in-Chief. It also asks the question, is wanting to have a beer with someone reason enough to elect him? What if he's really, really hot?

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: Unlike other rock musicals in Midtown, including "American Idiot" and "Memphis," this one doesn't deliver big, clean, throbbing emotions. Irony is woven into its fabric, but it's not the easy irony of mock news shows on television. Mr. Friedman's songs, cast in the hip but anguished mode of bands like Dashboard Confessional, could be described as post-ironic. They're achingly sincere, even as they send up aching sincerity, hot and cool in one breath.

Mark Kennedy, AP: The whole thing is just plain odd: This show walks a fine line between parody and sincerity, between mocking musicals and yet embracing them, between promoting stereotypes and yet laughing at them, between respect for history and having none at all, and between making fun of rock stars and yet producing one. It sometimes falters, yet never loses it's swagger - unlike that hogtied horse dangling from the balcony.

Steven Suskin, Variety: With their bloody-good "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson," director-librettist Alex Timbers and composer-lyricist Michael Friedman have woven a scathing and topical satire on matters patriotic and political, and they've done it with the sound of emo rock, which might be hard to swallow for some traditional theatergoers. Downtown hit could prove a tough sell in a Broadway house, but the show's commercial producers have demonstrated keen marketing in the past, with diverse fare including "Spring Awakening" and "August: Osage County." Word of mouth will loom large with this one.

Michael Sommers, NJ Newsroom: A major success downtown at the Public Theater last spring (check out my review here), "BBAJ" has been trimmed to an intermission-free 80 minutes. Otherwise it remains a rambunctious bio-look at our nation's seventh President, Andrew Jackson, and his rowdy populist times - with a tip of the old raccoon cap towards our own Tea Party era.

Simon Vozick-Levinson, Entertainment Weekly: Aside from the change in venue and a few minor tweaks to the supporting cast and staging, though, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is presented more or less exactly as it was at the Public. That is not a complaint. Many of those who have already discovered this unique show will no doubt jump at the chance to experience it all over again. If you haven't seen it yet, what are you waiting for? Shows this weird and wonderful don't make it to Broadway every day. A

Linda Winer, Newsday: How important is charisma in the selection of American leaders? Who decided who got to claim what for whose manifest destiny? What is populism, and why would anyone trust the people with it? And while we're asking, what is "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" doing on Broadway, anyway? My answer to the last question is easy. It's doing plenty, just not in the usual ways.

Chris Jones, The Chicago Tribune: But this is still one of those shows that capture a moment, an old moment, a new moment. The young cast looks atypical and, at times, as if its members can't believe their luck. Jackson probably thought much the same.

Matt Windman, AM New York: There could not possibly be a more relevant time for "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" - a relentlessly silly rock musical about the first unofficial Tea Party candidate in American political history - to premiere on Broadway.

Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: If you're looking for a tidy and traditional show, or an irony-free slice of history, this new take on Old Hickory isn't it. But for something lightweight, fresh and fun, "Andrew Jackson" is worth the Benjamins.

Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: And yet "Bloody Bloody" never fails to entertain: It stays faithful to the people's president by making him a crowd-pleaser.

John Simon, Bloomberg News: I must confess that the folks around me seemed to find most of it hilarious. Much as I wished to, I couldn't join them.

Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter: Bottom Line: Snarky rock musical about "Old Hickory" is more sophomoric than satiric.

Christopher Bonanos, NY Magazine: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is 90 minutes long, and around minute 70, I began to despair of it. I started to wonder: Surely the whole play couldn't be about just that-facile, glib language mirroring a facile, racist political movement. Or maybe it was simply suffering from the move to Broadway, another show that originated in a small space dying in a big house.

Posted on October 13, 2010 - by


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About the Author:Robert Diamond founded BroadwayWorld.com in 2003, which has now become the largest theatre web site in the world. He also serves as the site's Editor-in-Chief, covering Broadway and beyond, with specific local coverage for 100 cities in the United States, 30 countries worldwide and 15 other related areas of entertainment - including dance, opera, fashion, concerts, comedy, films, television and more. The 2001 Syracuse University graduate (School of Information Studies) is also the owner of Wisdom Digital Media, an award-winning leading design company for entertainment and technology web sites. In his previous life, he held an executive position for the world's leading publisher of technology magazines, web sites and conferences and, as a result, was named among the "Top thirty magazine industry executives under the age of 30" by FOLIO Magazine. Diamond got his start in the entertainment field, accidentally, when he created the 'official web site' (while in college) for Michael Crawford, the popular actor and original Tony and Olivier Award-winning star of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. (He still blames Crawford - and credits him - for anything that goes particularly right or wrong during an average day.) As a respected member of the Broadway and theatre community, Diamond also served as Lead Producer for a series of sold-out shows using the BroadwayWorld.com 'brand' for a set of 'Standing Ovations' concerts, which also branched out into titles that included Holiday Shows and even more specific concerts like 'From Stage to Screen and Back Again' in tandem with publishers and movie studios. All proceeds were in turn donated to Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS, the industry's leader in aid for performers in need. Robert lives in Manhattan with his wife and two dogs, growing the business and getting little sleep. In addition, you can usually find him in a theatre many nights a week. Robert's very popular blog, 'The Broadway Pulse' appears daily on BroadwayWorld.com and he also writes weekly about theatre for the USA Network's Character Approved blog. In December of last year, Diamond was one of 5 Syracuse University Alumni, all having achieved success in the world of start-ups, business growth and venture capital, participating on a panel addressing young alumni who are currently pursuing their dreams of running their own business and experiencing the day to day challenges of a startup. It is part of the university's new Student Accelerator Program, for which Rob was recommended by Syracuse University's i-School.


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