Musical theatre old timers have been circling the proverbial wagons for quite sometime now, grasping at revival after revival in hopes of retaining the fading glory of yesteryear song and dance shows. Over the course of the past couple seasons on and off Broadway, a rebellion of sorts has been afoot, and if anyone has been paying attention to the smoke signals, musical theatre conventions are slowly being thrown out the window.
The Public Theatre’s latest musical, ‘Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,’ has a central message, and it is rather simple, f**k theatrical conventions. Thanks to the progressive nature of recent offerings including ‘Spring Awakening,’ ‘Passing Strange’ and now Green Day‘s ‘American Idiot’ — perhaps the most straight forward rock musical to date — Broadway has been breaking away from tradition with rock music infiltrating the stage and concert style staging springing up.
Let’s face it, the age of the Merm — that’s reigning musical theatre queen Ethel Merman for those unaffected youths — has been gone for quite some time now, but the final nail is nearly in the coffin, and Andrew Jackson is yet another step towards a new wave of the American musical.
The intentions of ‘Bloody Bloody’ are pure, and as such allow for the primal scream of musical theatre’s next generation to be heard loud and clear. Quit filling stages with the same old crap year after year, hoping that a bunch of nostalgic old farts will keep the industry afloat, because sooner or later, it is the key 18-35 demographic that will need to fill seats, and an over-the-hill Gypsy will not pass muster.
So just what is Andrew Jackson? Well, for starters, it isn’t your grandmother’s, or for that matter, mother’s musical. It is a culmination of years of newsgathering from sources like ‘The Daily Show with John Stewart’ and ‘Real Time with Bill Maher,’ coupled with the wailing moans of Weezer and Dashboard Confessional (emo rock bands).