The best original musical in years. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is an unbelievably energetic and poignant tragicomedy exploring the life of one of the United States’ most celebrated and hated, admired and demonized presidents, Andrew Jackson.
Part history book, part vaudeville, and a whole lot of minstrel show, the musical plays through Jackson’s life through retrospect (a loving Tea Party-type fawning over her hero), as it is happening (the discussion of then-political issues like tariffs, a national bank), and thrust into the contemporary political scene (“I promise you transparency and open collaboration”).
The entire show is wildly entertaining and often very funny, featuring the best original score this side of Next to Normal. What is so important about this show, however, is how unbelievably daring it is. It presents the life of one of the most contentious figures in American history with unblinking honesty, but without any resentment or regret. His actions, both good and bad, are presented to us and the audience is left to draw its own conclusions.
In the stirring closing ballad “Second Nature,” the singer explores the changes in America from Jackson’s presidency through now; are we better off by what Jackson did? How do we as a country grapple with our terrible past? Are these actions justifiable, given what we have today?
The show shows a very mature restraint; it does not exist to preach at us. No entertainment should. Rather, it forces us to explore ourselves and our history. Jackson faced that with the Native American population. His decisions on that issue are certainly controversial; but he did what he felt he had to given America’s history and the existing borders and political situation he was born into. He, and every individual, deserves at least that much credit.