Last night, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson opened on Broadway at the Jacobs Theater. After its successful run downtown, which we have written about ad nauseum, this transfer seemed like a no brainer. Only. Nothing is ever a no brainer in this business we call show.
The good news is, the show doesn’t suddenly suck now! In fact. It’s basically more badass than ever. Here’s why:
1. The entire cast is poppin’.
Sitting in the Jacobs, you get the distinct sense that all of these people are outside their goddamn minds. Each. And every. One.
And that, my friends, is the best part about this cast of theatrical hooligans. They are all there, 100%, and they are taking you along for the ride. Even if you’re kicking and screaming. With its no-holds-barred approach to theater and history, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson absolutely requires a cast this tight. It requires the supporting actors to give the most insanely hilarious performances ever—Jeff Hiller, Lucas Near-Verbrugghe, we’re looking at you —and for the company to unabashedly bust their asses to keep the wheels on this bus of bananas rolling. Thank god they do.
2. It got smarter and more nuanced.
This show is smart. It always was. But the changes Timbers and Friedman have made in the last few months only make it smarter. Subtle though they may be, they serve to heighten the human implications of the conflicts Jackson faced as President. Timbers and Friedman have upped the stakes for the audience, giving Jackson’s foes more depth while exposing more of his dark underbelly, and they manage all that without making Jackson entirely unsympathetic/unfuckable, either.
3. Don’t worry about the awesome dumb jokes, though.
They’re still there. There were hardly any jokes actually cut at all, actually. And a few were added—especially for John Quincy Adams—that are funnier than they have any right to be. At one point, a friend actually complained that her cheeks/stomach were hurting from laughing so much. When is the last time you heard someone say that about a Broadway Musical?
4. It’s a completely immersive experience, like nothing else on Broadway right now.
You don’t get splattered with blood, really. And only one lady is lucky enough to score a lap-dance each night. But one of the coolest parts of the experience at The Public was the theater itself, and the creators were able to replicate that same feeling in the (much larger) Jacobs. As soon as you step inside, the dim red lighting, upholstered walls and White House gone Frat House vibe set the perfect, mad-cap tone. Even the pre-performance playlist gets you in the mood. From the moment you enter the theater, you are surrounded by Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson—even without the man himself straddling your lap.
5. Benjamin Walker is still a Rock Star. Also, he is still hot as fuck. (And yes, that matters in this role. That makes the role.)
Neither of those things changed, or got lost in translation on the way uptown. The lights are clearly brighter at the Jacobs, and Walker is sweating it out more than ever. But he’s also continuing to grow into the role with each performance. And honestly? He makes that show his bitch every single night. That’s worth seeing again and again, take it from someone who has.