Jackson “did bad things,” said Baker, perhaps campaigning for the coveted Understatement of the Year award.
“All presidents do bad things,” he said. “But [Jackson] did a particularly bad thing” when he enacted the Indian Removal Act, uprooting tens of thousands of Native Americans and setting into motion the Trail of Tears, the horror that would occur under his successor’s presidency.
Yet as we forgive our rock stars their drug addictions and our actors their egos, so we are inclined to forgive our presidents’ hypocrisies (see also: Thomas Jefferson, the slave-owning seeker of liberty). Jackson, then, maintains his allure, especially in this irreverent, crazy, sexy, cool musical. He is reviled and revered for his violent tendencies — don’t pretend you don’t think it’s even a tiny bit awesome that Jackson engaged in more than 100 duels and carried around two bullets in his body as souvenirs.
“There’s this aspect, the ‘Bloody Bloody,’ you would think the first thing is that it’s all about the people who were killed,” Gallu said. “But it’s also used in this erotic way between Andrew and his wife, Rachel. . . . It puts to the point this love of violence that is attributed to Jackson. Was it just violence, a sexual thing, a power thing? It’s freaky and funny at the same time.”
“Bloody Bloody” on Broadway was beloved by critics but unpopular with audiences, closing at a loss to investors after a 31
2-month run. The show did well at the Public Theater in New York and the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles, though, and Studio’s “Bloody Bloody” team expects similar success in the District. “It speaks to Washington . . . [to] all the characters that we live with every day,” Baker said.
The show “allows us to see both what it’s like to see the rock-star version of a president, where he’s onstage and millions of people are screaming his name, and also what happens behind it all,” Harris added.
Gallu thinks that “most people will be energized by the show.” Not that he can predict how all audiences will react. “The only thing I’ll say about everybody is that they’ll all have an opinion.”
Wednesday-Aug. 5, 1501 15th St. NW. www.studiotheatre.org; 202-667-8436.