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Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

One Act (90 mins without intermission), Book Musical; Book by Alex Timbers; Music and Lyrics by Michael Friedman

2008 Los Angeles: Kirk Douglas Theatre
2009 Off-Broadway Concert: - Shiva Theatre - 5 - 24 May, 2009 (24 Perfs)
2010 Off-Broadway - Public Theatre - March 23 (previews) to June 27, 2010
2010 Broadway - Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre - 13 Oct 2010, (previews from 9 Oct 2010) - Closed 2 Jan 2011

Synopsis

This is the story of America's first political maverick. A.J. kicked British butt, shafted the Indians and smacked down the Spaniards all in the name of the United States - who cares if he didn't have permission? An exhilarating and white-knuckled look at one of the nation's founding rock stars, the show recreates and reinvents the life of "Old Hickory," from his humble beginnings on the Tennessee frontier to his days as the seventh Commander-in-Chief. It also asks the question, is wanting to have a beer with someone reason enough to elect him? What if he's really, really hot?

The show is a comedic Wild West rock musical about the founding of the Democratic Party. It redefines Andrew Jackson, America's seventh President, as an Emo rock star and focuses on populism, the Indian Removal Act, and his relationship with his wife Rachel.

Story:

The show opens when the cast, dressed as 19th century American cowboys and prostitutes take the stage. They are led by Andrew Jackson. They sing about their eagerness to strip the English, Spanish, French, and, most importantly, the Native Americans of their land in the US. Along with this, they sing of the desire to bring political power back to the public and away from the elite ("Populism Yea Yea").

Jackson's childhood is shown in the Tennessee hills during the late 18th century. His family and the local shoe cobbler dies cholera and Indian attacks. This leads him to join the military, where he is imprisoned by the British. Jackson begins to express his disdain for the US government’s lack of involvement with the people of the frontier and how he wishes someone would stand up to them ("I'm Not That Guy").

Jackson is then shown as a young adult, regaling his short meeting with George Washington to local tavern goers. He is interrupted and attacked by several Spaniards. Jackson defeats them, but is injured in the process. A woman named Rachel helps him to recover from his injuries. They fall in love during his recovery and eventually marry, though Rachel is not yet divorced from her current husband. ("Illness as Metaphor") At the end of the song, news comes that British, Indian, and Spanish forces are making advances into American territory. Meanwhile, the US government continues to do nothing to stop the attacks. Jackson realizes that if he wants this cycle to end, he must change things himself ("I'm So That Guy").

Jackson organizes a militia to remove Indian Tribes throughout the Southeast both by force and negotiation ("Ten Little Indians"). John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, John Calhoun, and Martin Van Buren are introduced as they express their concern over Jackson's unauthorized territorial expansion. Jackson rebuffs their pleas, explaining how he has driven out the French and the Spanish while acquiring more land than Thomas Jefferson.

The Battle of New Orleans transforms Jackson into a national hero. He becomes governor of Florida and decides to run for President in 1824. Although he receives the most popular and Electoral votes, he is not elected President due to the political maneuvering in the House of Representatives. ("The Corrupt Bargain"). Jackson spends the four years after the election at his home, The Hermitage. He returns from political exile and forms the Democratic Party. During the presidential election of 1828, Andrew Jackson becomes a surprise candidate. ("Rock Star") This is grueling both publicly and personally to Jackson and his family. Rachel, feeling as if she has no private life, questions Andrew's love for her versus the American People ("The Great Compromise").

Days before the election, a Senate panel led by Clay investigates Jackson's past wrongdoings and accuses Rachel of bigamy. Despite this, Jackson ends up winning the election and becomes the 7th President of the United States. However, the accusation of his rivals along with the stress of the election leads to Rachel dying of grief. He vows to use both his presidency and his wife's death as a mandate to "take this country back" ("Public Life").

Once in office, Jackson is faced with a plethora of problems, ranging from the National Bank to questions about Indian relocation. Being the “People’s President,” Jackson begins polling the American Populace on all Executive decision. This draws the ire of Congress and the Supreme Court. In response, Jackson consolidates Executive Power thus making the Presidency more powerful than Congress and the Courts. At first, his exhilarating cowboy-like governing tactics are met with great enthusiasm by the average citizen, but as the problems grow tougher, the public begins to resent being asked to make difficult decisions ("Crisis Averted").

As the American people gradually turn on him, Jackson takes stock of all that he has lost: his family, his wife, and now the love of the American public. He decides he must take ultimate responsibility for the nation's choices and declares that he alone will be the one to make the unenviable policy decisions regarding the Indians' fate ("The Saddest Song"). He summons Black Fox-- an Indian Chief who organized the remaining Indian tribes into a confederation against Tennessee settlers-- in order to make one last deal with the Native Americans still living in American Territories. Jackson implores Black Fox to peacefully move his people west of the Mississippi River. Black Fox ask for time to consult his tribe, but Jackson violently snaps and decrees that federal troops will forcibly move the Indians West.

Near the end, the play reviews Jackson's legacy and the views attributed to him. Some believe he was one of America's greatest presidents, while others believe him to be an “American Hitler”. The final scene shows Jackson receiving an honorary doctorate at Harvard. He reflects upon his achievements and his questionable decisions. The show telescopes out and we get a bird's eye view of Jackson's damning legacy and our collective culpability ("Second Nature").

Finally, the company gathers to sing "The Hunters of Kentucky" before taking their bows.

Musical Numbers

  1. Populism, Yea, Yea! – Company
  2. I’m Not That Guy – Andrew Jackson
  3. Illness As Metaphor – Andrew Jackson, Rachel, Monroe, & Male Soloist
  4. I’m So That Guy – Andrew Jackson & Company
  5. Ten Little Indians – Female Soloist, Rachel & Female Ensemble
  6. The Corrupt Bargain – Female Ensemble (Toula, Elizabeth, & Naomi), John Calhoun, John Quincy Adams, & Henry Clay
  7. Rock Star – Male Soloist, Andrew Jackson, & Company
  8. The Great Compromise – Rachel, Male Soloist, & Monroe
  9. Public Life – Andrew Jackson & Company
  10. Crisis Averted – Male Soloist, Male Soloist, & Company
  11. The Saddest Song – Andrew Jackson, Monroe, Black Fox, and Company
  12. Second Nature – Male Soloist
  13. The Hunters of Kentucky – Company