As we watch the bloody attacks of the current presidential campaign, it’s easy to wonder if there has always been a hateful race to become Commander-in-Chief. In this day and age, how much of a role does the media play in the selection process? What happened before the Internet connected personal failures and questionable dealings to the candidate?
Bailiwick Chicago presents BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON. The seventh president of the United States is known for his rural beginnings. This bio-rock musical follows ‘Old Hickory’ from childhood to death. His parents’ death, his bigamist marriage, his adopted son are all examined for their personal influence on the shaping of a president. Jackson’s prejudice of Indians makes him a deadly hero. His wild card personality makes him the people’s choice. Popular vote makes him a President. If the history channel and MTV had a love child, its name would be BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON.
The premise for this play intrigues for its non-text book approach. It reads like a 20/20 expose. It sounds like a rock concert. With music and lyrics by Michael Friedman and book by Alex Timbers, the energy resembles “Spring Awakening” meets “Rock of Ages.” Under the musical direction of James Morehead, this band rocks the house. They crank up the beat with fun loving playfulness. The music was terrific. The acting wasn’t.
Director Scott Ferguson goes campy! Some of the actors are over-the-top gay stereotyped. Others are mugging for the camera that isn’t present. There is an ongoing competition to steal focus breaking any ensemble bond. Ferguson takes the witty and clever bio-musical and goes cartoonish. I enjoy a campy musical but somehow this buffoonery misses the punchline. I have a great sense of humor. And laughing at political mishaps is a given. But sometimes when people are trying too hard to be funny, it’s just bloody painful.
Having seen it in NYC last year, James describes it with ‘Democratic party pooper.’
Running Time: One hour and fifty minutes with no intermission, includes a 15 minute delayed start
At National Pastime Theatre, 941 W. Lawrence
Music and lyrics by Michael Friedman
Book by Alex Timbers
Directed by Scott Ferguson
Music direction by James Morehead
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm
Thru November 10th
Buy Tickets at wwwbailiwickchicago.com