Arts & Entertainment

Review: Some missteps in energetic 'Andrew Jackson' musical

"American history textbooks simply do not do our seventh president justice. Sure, in old paintings, he’s got the thick, wavy hair thing going on, and the craggy features do set off a rugged, Clint Eastwood-y vibe. But where, oh where, is the cool eyeliner? Or the skinny jeans from Abercrombie & Fitch? Or, for that matter, Old Hickory’s most famous prop, the microphone he was known for, into which he belted out power ballads about his annihilation of the native population?

Well, thank heaven the record is finally being corrected by the subversive rock pedantry of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” the spunky if structurally muddy musical of populist awakenings and out-of-control presidential egoism that spews epithets with the same liberty it applies to White House scholarship. The “American Idol”-izing of Jackson receives its local premiere at Studio Theatre in a visually pleasing and energetic production that gets some melodic moments absolutely right but feels a bit off when it comes to elements of the musical’s scorching snark.

“Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” which had a brief Broadway life after a well-received run off-Broadway at the Public Theater, depends not simply on a blazing performance from its Jackson, embodied bracingly here by Heath Calvert, he of the swivel hips and an all-star smile that demotes Mitt Romney’s or President Obama’s to second-string. The musical also rises or falls on attitude, the nihilism of our age applied to the festering class resentments of pre-Civil War America. It takes the position that venal leaders and craven followers go way back. Who knows? Maybe all the way back to the Magna Carta."

Get the Story:
Studio ‘Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson’: Some missteps in energetic musical (The Washington Post 7/18)

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