BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON
Revisionist history doesnt even start to describe this wild and wicked take on the life and times of the seventh president lets just say it wont 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 Childrens 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 Americas Indian population. He is also a populist rock & roll god battling foppish Washington elites while riding the thundering crest of Friedmans 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 Jacksons 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 dont get pushed too often.) The acrobatic ensemble, like everything else under Timbers manic direction, runs with the timing of a giant pinball game. Emily Rebholzs costumes are mostly anachronistic (lots of cowboy outfits) yet match the shows malarial conjuring of the past. Bart Fasbenders sound flawlessly amps the band while hitting the many sound-effects cues, and Jeff Crointers lighting emphasizes this circuss Macbeth-like undercurrent. Finally, Robert Brills set (part saloon, part music hall) features a large upstage diorama of North American mammals which, by plays end, will figure as a Sundays, 1 & 6:30 p.m.; Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 p.m. Starts: Jan. 20. Continues through Feb. 17, 2008
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