The Unbearable Banishment: Bloody, bloody mess

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bloody, bloody mess

They just announced that one of the many great hopes for Broadway this season, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, is set to close in a few weeks. This is an excellent lesson in how much sway and power critics have and, in some cases, don't have.

There's an unusual bumper crop of new musicals this season. There are 11 new musicals that have already opened or are set to open. I tend to NOT see many musicals. If I have a little coin in my pocket for a cheap ticket, I'll usually opt for a play. But I did see this last month.

It came with a good pedigree. It was born downtown at The Public Theater, which can get kind of avant garde-y at times. I liked the premise; President Andrew Jackson is played as an emo punk rocker. The songs are all rough-edge loud numbers that, supposedly, could have fit into Rent (which I never saw). All this noise is going on while Jackson wipes out the entire Native American population. Excellent fun. I thought I had nothing to lose!

The critics fell all over themselves with praise. The Public is a small theater so, naturally, a ticket was impossible to come by. The producers saw sugar plum dollar signs dancing in front of their eyes and they moved it uptown to a Broadway house. They re-reviewed it when it reopened on Broadway and there was more gushing from the critics about the lead and the score and how it was going to pull the kids into the theater.

Well, guess what? It was really boring. The songs were pretty snappy but there were long stretches—especially after Jackson takes office—where not a hell of a lot happens. Again, someone behind me fell fast asleep and started snoring LOUDLY.

So stuff it, Ben Brantley of the New York Times. It's closing on January 2nd. And although I'll never get that evening back, you owe me the cost of the ticket, you dickhead.

I loved the ad campaign. Look at that imagery and tag line on the poster! Fantastic. It didn't help.



Anonymous daisyfae said...

the imagery would have gotten my attention... but Mr. Springsteen wasn't an angsty emo-boy. Certainly not one to shoot up the natives...

December 2, 2010 at 7:57 AM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Don't you just hate it when something is all hype and no substance?

December 2, 2010 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger Sausage said...

Sounds like all hat and no cowboy

December 2, 2010 at 8:22 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Daisy: I, too, thought it looked a hell of a lot like the cover of Born in the U.S.A. Maybe that was intentional.

Ponita: Yes, specially when I pay good money (albeit, at a discount) to see it. Had again.

SF: It probably was pretty great in the smaller downtown theater. Not everything translates to a big house.

December 2, 2010 at 8:27 AM  
Blogger Ellie said...

I can't get past the association of Andrew Jackson and The Trail of Tears.

December 2, 2010 at 11:48 AM  
Blogger SJF said...

Yep, it was way over-hyped and not very good. So much for gushing reviews. And the 7pm start time threw a bunch of late arriving audience members for a loop too.

December 2, 2010 at 11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Critics often sacrifice their credibility on the groupthink altar. Plonkers.

December 2, 2010 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Ellie: Well, they didn't make a hero out of him, that's for sure. They made him look a bit psychotic, actually.

SJF: How funny is that!? Read your damn ticket and confirm the start time! Dopes.

kykn: I confess that sometimes I fall into that trap. Curses!

December 2, 2010 at 12:25 PM  
Anonymous nursemyra said...

I HATE musicals. Unless they're directed by Lars Von Trier

December 2, 2010 at 3:51 PM  
Blogger Here In Franklin said...

I've alway been a bit partial to Jackson. His home, The Hermitage, is about 30 miles from here. Also, there's a road that follows the Nashville city limits called Old Hickory Boulevard--it's named for Jackson whose nickname was Old Hickory. And there's also the old song, "The Battle of New Orleans" about him. The Trail of Tears was a travesty, but he is a figure that I literally cross paths with multiple times a day.

December 2, 2010 at 9:11 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Nurse: I, too, am not a huge fan of musicals but ironically (would this be an irony?) one of the best plays I've ever seen was Cabaret with Natasha Richardson as Sally Bowles and the creepy, hatchet-faced Alan Cumming as the MC. I think there's a few clips from that production on YouTube.

HIF: It would be interesting to get your perspective on his treatment in this play. I wonder if it's fair? I wouldn't know...

December 2, 2010 at 9:18 PM  
Blogger Eryl said...

You had a president called Andrew Jackson? It's interesting how the venue makes such a huge difference.

December 3, 2010 at 2:24 AM  
Blogger JZ said...

So AJ was the protagonist?! I suppose its like the Woody Harrelson/Juliette Lewis roles in Natural Born Killers......ah, post-modern, non-hierarchical art; you went and got all pluralistic and morally ambiguous on me again......

December 3, 2010 at 6:47 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Eryl: Same show, different venue. It made all the difference in the world, apparently. It doesn't make a lot of sense.

JZ: Hey, baby, this country was built on moral ambiguity.

December 3, 2010 at 7:13 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

Can't say the poster grabs me but with regard to musicals; I only got them in my seventies - the play was the thing. Now in my dotage I find the good ones fill me with joy.

December 4, 2010 at 12:04 PM  

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