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Arts & Culture

Emo-historical Musical 'Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson' is Worn, but Not Tired

Photo: Photos by Andrea M. Medina, License: N/A

Photos by Andrea M. Medina

Photo: , License: N/A

The leads are strong. After an extended break from SA theater, Anthony Cortino returns in fine form, and pours himself into Jackson’s sexypants (yup, all one word): he captures the political leader’s bluster as well as increasing insecurity. Elise Eversole—in her San Antonio debut—is terrific as Jackson’s long-suffering (and allegedly bigamist) wife. A rotating trio of supporting actors—Robby Vance, Matthew Lieber and Travis Trevino—neatly double and triple as politicians, populists and even Indian chiefs. (It’s worth noting that the ensemble features many Woodlawners taking their first bow at the theater: It’s always cool to see fresh faces on SA’s stages.)

Working with a storyline that skips through time and space, director Matthew Byron Cassi clearly has his hands full. Some of the problems are insurmountable: a musical parody of Susan Sontag’s Illness as Metaphor is so arch that it seems transplanted from a different show entirely. (Plus, it’s theatricality that’s metaphor in this show, not illness: demagoguery as performance art.) An extended narrative arc involving Washington D.C.—here presented as an effete, Frenchified soirée—starts off haltingly, but eventually culminates in the evening’s strongest number: a zany romp through Beltway corruption with a sorely needed shout-out to Alexis de Tocqueville. (It occurs to me that an emo-rock version of Democracy in America could be the best musical ever. Or the worst.) “Ten Little Indians”—a charming children’s ditty about colonialism—distills the production’s structure and argument into one song: goofy in form, but deadly earnest in content. (Even in a show as wacky and profane as BBAJ, genocide is no laughing matter.)

Originally conceived and performed as a one-act musical, this production features an intermission for no apparent reason; the added length stretches the evening past the two-hour point, which its jokey plot can’t really sustain. (The Playhouse did the same thing to Xanadu a few years back: is there some sort of citywide ordinance against one-act musicals? I don’t get it.) But what the Woodlawn’s Bloody lacks in polish, it generally makes up for in sheer exuberance—or as the musical might term it: Exuberance, yea yea!

‘Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson’

8pm Fri-Sat, 2:30pm Sun
Woodlawn Theatre
1920 Fredericksburg
(210) 267-8388
Through Dec 1

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