Rock and roll and politics don’t usually make great bedfellows, but leave it to Michael McKelvey, and the great minds at Doctuh Mistuh Productions, to change all that, as they bring the irreverent cult Broadway hit Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson to Austin for its Texas Premiere. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson takes a look at one of the most controversial figures in US history and gives him an emo rock edge, creating a energetic and hilarious ride through one of the most tumultuous times in American history.
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson takes us through the life and times of our seventh president, but this is not your grandaddy’s history lesson. Full of foul language, self-inflicted violence, and sexual situations, the play is a true emo rock epic, following a lead that’s more Billie Joe Armstrong than Old Hickory. A satire of the highest order, it transforms well-known historical characters into comical caricatures of themselves, all while keeping a firmly adult, tongue-in-cheek atmosphere throughout. Obviously, this is not a play for everyone, as it’s sure to offend just about everyone in the room at some point, but for those who keep their minds open and their senses of humor in check, it’s sure to be a show you won’t soon forget.
It’s also imporant that you don’t walk into the door of the Blue Theatre to see the show without having some history in your back pocket. We’re blasted through years of wars with the Native Americans in the span of about half an hour, and political figures are name dropped quickly without any real ceremony or repetition. Those who don’t know enough information about politics in Jackson’s time are going to be lost in the woods, though the play does its best to keep the important elements of Jackson’s life clear and to the point. One doesn’t need to be a history professor to follow the action, but taking a peek through a wikipedia article or a history book couldn’t hurt one bit.
Though David Gallagher, star of Doctuh Mistuh’s Evil Dead the Musical, may not have the vocal abilities of some actors in town, the moment he comes on stage, all tight jeans and swagger, hitting on everything with two x chromosomes, he’s sure to win the audience’s heart. He takes over the role so wholly it’s a delight to watch, running around the stage with remarkable energy, even as he is cutting or yelling at himself. Joining him for the ride is a talented group of actors, ranging from relative newcomers to stage veterans, each bringing something special to their role. Hitting particular highs is multiple award-winner Rebecca Robinson as the wheelchair-bound narrator, a bright spirit that gets pushed around as she takes the audience through the action. Some of the biggest laughs come from her constant reappearances, despite her character dying, or nearly dying, at least twice. Also shining brightly is Joey Banks as Martin Van Buren, who plays the perfect fall guy to Gallagher’s swag-filled Jackson, popping up with splendid timing to create some truly humorous moments, never losing his cool even as the country around him falls to pieces. He plays particularly well against the other presidents, who treat him like a filthy dog, while he keeps his smile and pleasant demeanor through it all.
Despite pacing issues, and some staging limitations, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson features an attractive and charismatic cast full of energetic rockers who will take you to a rock and roll wonderland which has a passing resemblance to 18th and 19th century America. For those who are willing to sit back and have the experience wash over them, it can be a wild ride, just be sure to have some knowledge before hand, for it’s an easy to ride to lost on.
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
2 hours with 1 Intermission
Doctuh Mistuh Productions
June 15 – July 1