Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (2012)

by Alex Timbers
Music and Lyrics by Michael Friedman
Sept. 27-Oct. 20, 2012
Washington University South Campus Theatre
Show Webpage
Production Photos

Andrew Jackson – John Sparger
Band Soloist – D. Mike Bauer
Lyncoya, et al. – Stephanie Brown
Martin Van Buren, et al. – Brian Claussen
James Monroe, et al. – Mike Dowdy
John Quincy Adams, et al. – Zachary Allen Farmer
The Storyteller – Amy Kelly
Henry Clay, Chief Black Fox, et al. – Nicholas Kelly
“Rock Star” soloist, et al. – Todd Micali
Rachel Jackson, et al. – Taylor Pietz
Cheerleader, et al. – Sarah Porter
John Calhoun, et al. – BC Stands
Cheerleader, et al. – Chrissy Young

Director – Scott Miller
Fight Choreographer – Nicholas Kelly
Costume Designer – Amy Kelly
Scenic Designer – Scott L. Schoonover
Lighting Designer – Kenneth Zinkl
Sound Designer – Donald Smith
Stage Manager – Alex Moore
Props Master – Alison Helmer
House Manager – Ann Stinebaker
Box Office Manager – Vicki Herrmann
Lighting Technician – Trisha Bakula
Graphic Designer – Matt Reedy
Photographer – Jill Ritter Lindberg

Piano/Conductor – Justin Smolik
Guitar – D. Mike Bauer
Bass – Dave Hall
Percussion – Clancy Newell

“It's kind of hard to describe the new musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, but only because it's such a phantasmagorical journey through the life and presidency of Andrew Jackson. Parts of it are downright hilarious, while others are amazingly informative. Kind of like what Bill Cosby used to say during the opening credits of the Fat Albert show: ‘If you're not careful, you might learn something before it's done.’ New Line's current presentation of this wild and woolly excursion into history is a rockin' riot, filled with catchy tunes and funny, anachronistic humor that rarely misses the mark. . . It's a colorful and engaging tale guaranteed to delight even the most jaded theatre-goer. . . New Line Theatre's production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson earns my highest recommendation. This is must-see modern musical theatre at its finest (and weirdest).” – Chris Gibson, BroadwayWorld

“From its sensational opening number, ‘Populism, Yea, Yea!,’ this show presents its take on history without the reverence of old bio-pics (Abe Lincoln in Illinois) or the thoughtful British gloss of new ones (The King's Speech). According to Alex Timbers, who wrote the Bloody Bloody book, and Michael Friedman, who wrote the music and lyrics, our politics demand discussion in a truly American vernacular: rock 'n' roll. . . Looking at the past through a modern prism, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson reminds us that America is still a very young country. Of course we recognize Jackson and his contemporaries. As the great Southern novelist William Faulkner famously observed, the past isn't dead. It isn't even past.” – Judith Newmark St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“When the 7th President of our United States, Andrew Jackson, swaggers out onstage, in eyeliner, black nails and with a microphone in his holster, telling the audience that they are sexy, you can bet that this is not gonna be your grandma's American History lesson. Not that we would really expect that – not from New Line Theatre. . . Scott Miller directs the insanity with abandon – adroitly melding the anachronistic profanely funny 2000s style comedy with a touching reality, especially where it counts: in scenes between Andrew and Rachel, and scenes between Andrew and Black Fox. Justin Smolik leads the tight band with D. Mark Bauer adding vocals. . . So if you like your history with a little hysteria, you should definitely consider checking out this rollicking rock musical at New Line Theater.” – Bob Mitchell, KDHX

“This is a New Line show if there ever was one. It’s smart, sassy, political, and has a compelling score. . . The excellence of the material and the staging make this a vintage New Line production. [John] Sparger is a commanding figure as Jackson, and he’s surrounded by a terrific ensemble in which almost everyone plays multiple roles. We are treated to irreverent portrayals of some of the country’s most revered politicians, including three presidents, a vice president, and a speaker of the house. Most of the performers are New Line regulars who remind us of how deep a pool of talent New Line has to draw from these days. . . This production is an ideal match of artists and material, and it gives us plenty to think about as the November election approaches.” – Gerry Kowarsky, Two on the Aisle

“New Line Theatre, is presenting the regional premiere of this raucous, rowdy and rapacious one-act extravaganza, which is often rude, crude and lewd, so be wary of taking children for a ‘history lesson.’ The arch, Goth style of this production, though, is brimming with energy. . . The show has so much vitality and dynamism. . . Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is frantic, antic and full of surprises as it speculates on how the west was really won and how America creates its heroes.” – Mark Bretz, Ladue News

“Bodacious and unconventional, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is a turbo-charged history lesson in the guise of an emo-rock musical. Naturally, New Line Theatre would open its 22nd year as the region's first company to produce this irreverent work, especially fitting during an election year. The parallels between politics then and now are striking and a tad eerie. Liberty, what a concept! Director Scott Miller has long led the charge for alternative adult musicals, and he stretches the medium's boundaries while celebrating them, certainly admirable. Because he is fearless when pushing the envelope, Miller presents this snarky take on our seventh president with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek.” – Lynn Venhaus, Belleville News Democrat

“It's all handled in a very buoyant, funny, ironic, idiotic way, by the extremely knowledgeable producer/director Scott Miller. And most of his genuinely unbeatable 'all-stars' are along for the ride: the singers and actors who delightfully recur from show to show. John Sparger, in the title role, has never looked or sounded better, or been funnier. And then there's just this Costco-sized bundle of talented people backing him up.” – Richard Green, TalkinBroadway

“In Michael Friedman and Alex Timbers’ hard-rocking musical, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, our seventh president is a smoldering rock star who makes love to the country with the same intensity with which he wages war against his enemies. His macho populism and belief in the common man come through in heartfelt songs that cast a modern light on the age-old problem of politics: How do you get your way without losing your soul?” – Paul Friswold, The Riverfront Times

“I can hardly think of a better way to catch a break from the onslaught of this year's presidential campaign than to check out this saucy, contemporary, in-your-face look at our seventh president. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson opens New Line Theatre's 22nd season, and this show is right up its alley. . . Under Scott Miller's high-speed direction and Justin Smolik’s tight direction of the New Line Band, this boisterous cast of New Liners deliver the musical numbers with their usual zest, and just enough cheek, complete with anachronisms like cell phones and cheerleaders. . . This is a history lesson that will prove much more interesting and entertaining than anything you've heard in school.” – Andrea Torrence, St. Louis Theatre Snob

“The satirical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, directed by artistic director Scott Miller, lives up to its name with a stage awash with the blood of so-called 'Indians,' Spaniards and Jackson himself. The history books want to know: Was our seventh president a great leader who doubled our country’s land mass or a mass murderer, an 'American Hitler'? Sound like a comedy? Not really. But Bloody Bloody, written by Alex Timbers, is laugh-out-loud hilarious. Its humor is assisted by Michael Friedman’s emo (emotional hardcore) rock score and in-your-face lyrics.” – Nancy Fowler, St. Louis Beacon

“It's quite an accomplishment for the St. Louis theater scene, and I readily recommend Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson to my readers, especially those who are willing to try a production that may be outside of their usual comfort zone. To me, pushing the envelope and doing the unexpected is the most exciting aspect of acting, and you won't find too many musicals that push the envelope harder than this.” – Jeff Ritter, The Trades

“It’s the most fun you’re ever likely to spend with a politician. Director Scott Miller has brought his magic touch into play milking the irony and laughs out of every line, pratfall and stage picture. . . If you’re in the mood for a bizarre look at this iconic period in American history, you’re in for a treat with Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. It should be required viewing for every college American History course.” – Steve Allen, Stagedoor STL

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is the story of one of our country’s most interesting Presidents growing up, just as America itself was growing up, as our nation was becoming a more serious, more literal democracy. This is a show about complexity, about gray area, about the Jekyll & Hyde in all of us; and also about American politics, about the lenses through which we see history, our biases and political agendas.

Andrew Jackson is the Rorschach Test of Americans Presidents, so complicated that almost everyone can find something in him that resonates. He was equal parts Barack Obama (charismatic populist and intrinsically American success story), John McCain (crusty war hero), Sarah Palin (loud, clumsy outsider), and George W. Bush (cocky, loyal, and charming).

His first biographer James Parton wrote, “Andrew Jackson, I am given to understand, was a patriot and a traitor. He was one of the greatest of generals, and wholly ignorant of the art of war. A writer brilliant, elegant, eloquent, without being able to compose a correct sentence, or spell words of four syllables. The first of statesmen, he never devised, he never framed a measure. He was the most candid of men, and was capable of the profoundest dissimulation. A most law-defying, law-obeying citizen. A stickler for discipline, he never hesitated to disobey his superior. A democratic autocrat. An urbane savage. An atrocious saint.”

A PBS documentary about Jackson contained the following list of chapters: The Wild Young Man, The War Hero, The Slave Master, The Candidate, The First Imperial President, The Defender of the Union (against secession), The Great White Father (the ironic nickname given to him over his “Indian Removal Program”), and The Prophet (of democracy literally “of the people”).

Jackson was all of those. And he lived at an amazing moment in our American Experiment. His election in 1828 was the first Presidential campaign decided by popular vote, the first grassroots Get Out the Vote effort, and the first overtly public campaign for President.

His presidency brought to the forefront for the first time many of the issues we still fight over today, including “states’ rights” and nullification, separation of powers, the expansion of executive power, fiercely divided politics, new mass media and more. Because he was the first President elected by popular vote, the Jacksonian Era was a difficult time for our country, a kind of early adolescence.

Just as our extreme political hostility today in this new century is born of a genuinely divided culture, so too was Jackson’s world. And to dramatize all this tumult and complexity for a modern audience – and perhaps to teach us some lessons for our times – Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman have created a rock musical in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson that captures those people and those times; and the show’s angry, cocky, ironic, rock and roll aesthetic captures even more so that era’s emotional zeitgeist, so freakishly like our own today.