Friday, October 15, 2010

A Bloody Success

Well, folks, it looks as though we have our first serious candidate for best musical this year.  Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson opened Wednesday night at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, where it transferred from the Public Theatre where it played last spring.  This musical, which many reviewers have trouble classifying, is the story of Andrew Jackson's rise to the presidency.  But it's told as an emo-rock, anachronistic Wild-West Show with a little bit of "smark-aleck collegtiate review" mixed in for good measure.

All that being said, in addition to all the parallels to modern politics which everyone seems to be talking about, this show actually manages to have production values.  Michael Friedman's score, unlike the scores of other rock musicals currently on Broadway, has been called ironic, "but it's not the easy irony of mock news shows on television ...  [The songs are] achingly sincere, even as they send up aching sincerity," says Ben Brantley of The New York Times.  Danny Mefford's choreography, which has the cast looking like demented Vegas show girls, fits the show and still looks good  --  a big asset in a show that is as all over the boards as this one seems to be.  Benjamin Walker's leading performance was praised as the "spirit of the show" with special attention drawn to the actors' "gift for paradox".  Maria Elena Ramirez as Andrew Jackson's wife and Kristine Nielsen as the Storyteller received strong notices for their supporting performances.  Also, in an unusual move for a New York Times review, the production's set designer received a whole paragraph worth of praise when usually designers aren't mentioned at all.  This makes it seem likely, at least at this point, for a Tony nomination in set design.  Come May of 2011, when the Tony nominations are announced, I'm expecting to see Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson get a whole bunch of things.

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