Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
"Revisionist history" doesn't even start to describe this wild and wicked take on the life and times of the seventh president — let's just say it won't be necessary to read any Arthur Schlesinger Jr. to prepare for this musical by Alex Timbers (book) and Michael Friedman (music and lyrics). Timbers (A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant, Hell House) imagines Jackson (Benjamin Walker) as a boyish, passive-aggressive frontiersman, thrust into greatness by historical circumstances, whose bigotry and messianic sense of manifest destiny lead him to eradicate much of America's Indian population. He is also a populist rock & roll god battling foppish Washington elites while riding the thundering crest of Friedman's guitar-heavy score. By turns campy and politically snide, the story is so over the top with its hey-dude vernacular speech and cartoon history lessons that we fear it will never step into bigger shoes. Eventually it does, however, as Jackson's early mistreatment of the Indians comes back to haunt him as president during the Indian-removal campaign. (Parallels with our current president are visible, but the Bush buttons mercifully don't get pushed too often.) The acrobatic ensemble, like everything else under Timbers' manic direction, runs with the timing of a giant pinball game. Emily Rebholz's costumes are mostly anachronistic (lots of cowboy outfits) yet match the show's malarial conjuring of the past. Bart Fasbender's sound flawlessly amps the band while hitting the many sound-effects cues, and Jeff Crointer's lighting emphasizes this circus's Macbeth-like undercurrent. Finally, Robert Brill's set (part saloon, part music hall) features a large upstage diorama of North American mammals — which, by play's end, will figure as a sardonic judgment as Jackson's youthful wilderness is transformed into the suburban prairie. KIRK DOUGLAS THEATRE, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City; Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6:30 p.m.; mats Sat., 2 p.m. & Sun., 1 p.m.; thru Feb. 17. No perfs Feb. 5-8. (213) 628-2772.
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