A comedic/historical/dramatic rock musical following an exaggerated version of Andrew Jackson.
Loosely follows the adult life of Jackson as a military hero, seventh president of the United States, and overall total fucking badass. Completely irreverent, the show does not shy away from the darker side of Jackson, including Indian removal.
After a very successful Off-Broadway run at the Public Theatre, it opened on Broadway in September of 2010 (to significantly less success).
The show itself is very much a parody of "emo" music with the story it tells. In a sense, it tells of America in its adolescence, and portrays this with fitting music, complete with raging hormones. Hence why the songs are all different kinds of awesome, yet completely silly.
Tropes, Yea Yea!
- All Take and No Give: As Jackson becomes more and more involved in politics, his relationship with Rachel becomes this. As Rachel sums it up in "The Great Compromise":"I give up everything/You give up nothing!"
- Anachronism Stew: The whole thing, as you might have realized, especially "Rock Star."
- Arch-Enemy: Henry Clay, for Jackson, as in Real Life.
- Arc Words: "Make them all bleed" and "Take back the country." The idea of being "That Guy" also recurs.
- As the Good Book Says...: Jackson invokes Jeremiah's warning to the people of Judah in "The Saddest Song."
- Badass Boast: From Jackson, of course:"Who am I? I'm Andrew FUCKING Jackson!"
- Bar Brawl: Jackson manages to get in one early in the show with a group of Spanish soldiers.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Andrew Jackson was an wannabe-rockstar Emo Teen.
- The Blind Leading the Blind: What the DC elite think of Jackson and the American people.But do you really want the American people running their own country?
- Bloodier and Gorier: Literally and figuratively.
- Especially in the number "Illness as a Metaphor," where Andrew and Rachel slit their wrists. You feel you shouldn't laugh, but that's what it wants you to do, and it's also a sharp jab at "emo" musicians glorifying something as horrible as self-harming."If you feel like you might throw up/Well that's a metaphor for how I feel/When I dream of you/Bathed in your metaphorical blood."
- Especially in the number "Illness as a Metaphor," where Andrew and Rachel slit their wrists. You feel you shouldn't laugh, but that's what it wants you to do, and it's also a sharp jab at "emo" musicians glorifying something as horrible as self-harming.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: "The Great Compromise"Rachel Jackson (in a wistful tone): I always thought I'd live in a house with a dog, and some kids, and some slaves...
- Cluster F-Bomb: As you might expect, there are several F-bombs liberally scattered throughout the script. One piece of interstitial music is even titled "Underscore, Motherfuckers!"
- Corrupt Politician: Played for laughs in "The Corrupt Bargain."
- Confession Cam: Jackson vents to one of these after he's screwed out of the presidency by the Corrupt Bargain. While he does so, the Washington elites who screwed him show up and mock his confession until he storms out.
- Crowd Song: "Populism, Yea Yea!"
- The Dandy: Most of the Washington elite are portrayed as this, though the whole cast wears a lot of makeup and lace.
- Dark and Troubled Past: "Sometimes your whole family dies of cholera."
- Dark Reprise: "Crisis Averted" manages to be this for itself as it transitions from its first to its second verse, tracing Jackson's descent from universally-adored man of the people to stubborn, isolated, disliked President.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Done for comedic effect.
- Downer Ending: The show ends with Jackson giving a commencement speech at Harvard, as a ghostly tableaux of the Trail of Tears materializes behind him. Quoting from the script:Jackson: The common man, the aristocrat, the frontiersman, the banker, whoever you are, this, I promise you-
(Jackson looks over his shoulder and sees, at last, the ghostly Indians. He turns to face the audience again, his expression transformed. He looks haunted.)Jackson: We will all meet again...in Heaven.
- Eagleland: Jingoism is a strong undercurrent.Cause it's the early 19th century,
We'll take the land back from the indians,
We'll take the land back from the French and Spanish,
And other people in other European countries,
And other countries too,
And also other places,
I'm pretty sure it's our land anyway...
- Expo Speak: The first section of the show is meant to emulate "a lame PBS documentary," so the dialogue is riddled with this up through "I'm So That Guy."
- Mr. Fanservice: Benjamin Walker, who played Andrew Jackson throughout the show's New York run. Manages to stay 100% sexy while complaining about his life. Plus the fact he's wearing super-tight jeans.
- Four-Star Badass: Jackson, again.
- Gone Horribly Right: The Corrupt Bargain, from the perspective of Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun. Their evil cackling turns to a sigh when they realize they've just put John Quincy Adams in the White House.
- Grief Song: "Public Life," which comes right after Rachel dies after learning that Jackson has won the election.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: "Matty Van, mah BEST BUD!"
- Historical Villain Upgrade: Being more or less from Jackson's point of view, Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams; John Calhoun... not so much.
- Hotter and Sexier: History, somewhat parodied in the tag line "HISTORY JUST GOT ALL SEXYPANTS," caps and all.
- Benjamin Walker's Andrew Jackson is Hotter and Sexier than the real deal.
- Hypocritical Humor: Plenty of examples.Florida Woman: I mean, I think it's a real tragedy that Jackson moved all the Indians from here in Florida.Florida Man: Me too. A real tragedy.Florida Woman: And that's why we hesitated to move here. Absolutely. I mean, we didn't want it to seem like we were endorsing that kind of behavior.Florida Man: No. Of course not. But, then we were like...it is nice it doesn't snow.Florida Woman: Um, yeah, it is. So, it's like, it's great that he did that. But we definitely don't condone it.
- "I Am" Song: "I'm Not That Guy" and "I'm So That Guy".
- "I Am Great!" Song:
- On a certain level, "Rock Star" is this. Jackson isn't overtly saying he's great, but he does consider himself "a celebrity of the first rank" if the chorus is anything to go by.
- Played straight with the bow music, "The Hunters of Kentucky," which is actually an edited version of one of the real Jackson's campaign songs.
- Ironic Nursery Tune: An increasingly-aggressive version of "Ten Little Indians" plays under Jackson's crooked negotiations with Native tribes.
- It's All About Me: "Life SUCKS! And my life sucks in particular!"
- John Quincy Adams: Portrayed here as a whiny, entitled fop who believes he should be President just because his father was.
- Lemony Narrator: The Storyteller, who pilots an electric wheelchair, wears thick glasses and is obviously in love with Jackson, narrates the early parts of the show. This ends when Jackson shoots her in the neck, signifying him taking control of the story which, metaphorically speaking, we all must do in life. Hence the lyric.
- "Sometimes you have to take the initiative/sometimes your whole family dies of cholera/sometimes you have to make your own story/sometimes you have to shoot the storyteller in the neck!"
- Les Collaborateurs: Black Fox works with Jackson to secure lopsided treaties with Native tribes during Jackson's land grab in the Southeast.
- The Musical
- Musicalis Interruptus: Due to the compact nature of the show, many of the songs don't properly resolve themselves and bleed into the next scene without an applause break.
- My God, What Have I Done?:
- In the third section, Black Fox grapples with his betrayal of his people and tries to go behind Jackson's back to fix it. It doesn't go well.
- At the very end of the show, Jackson has this reaction when he sees a tableaux of Native Americans walking the Trail of Tears.
- Rock Opera Plot: Jackson loses his family; enters politics to represent the common man against the elite; finds that politics is a harsh mistress when the people begin to resent having to make difficult decisions.
- Running Gag: Somebody getting shot with an arrow. It even happens during the bows!
- Self-Harm: Exaggerated and played for dark laughs in "Illness as a Metaphor."
- Shout-Out: A handful, largely in the creators' description of the show's style. For instance, the third section (everything from "Public Life" to "Second Nature") has several scenes take place in Jackson's White House, which are meant to be played as "lightning-quick as The West Wing, mixed with the frat-ish energy of Entourage." They also write that the section should end with the feeling of "Daniel Plainview alone at the end of There Will Be Blood firing pistols into the ether." Then, of course, there's this immortal line from "Rock Star":Andrew Jackson: "Want to see my stimulus package?"
- The Broadway production's poster (shown at the top of this page) is a riff on Bruce Springsteen's famous Born in the U.S.A. album cover.
- Sliding Scale Of Silliness Vs Seriousness: Starts on the side of silliness, with crude humor and innuendo galore, but after "Public Life," the show takes a decided turn towards seriousness, especially in the final scene between Jackson and Black Fox.
- Slobs Vs Snobs: How the Washington elite view Jackson's populist uprising. To wit:You can compromise all you want
They're still drunk and smell like pee!
Do you really want America run
By a man from Tennessee?
- Stylistic Suck: A lot of people complain about the show's juvenile attitude and simplistic lyrics, failing to understand that all of that is intentional: the show examines an "adolescent" period of America as a country, and comments on it by taking on the immature, self-righteous demeanor of an Emo Teen wannabe-rockstar.
- The Song Before the Storm: "The Saddest Song" is where Jackson crosses the point of no return.
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: After an entire show of fast-paced emo/punk songs, "Second Nature," the last proper song in the show, is a gentle acoustic ballad reflecting on America's land-grabbing tendencies, which were exacerbated by Jackson.
- Then Let Me Be Evil: Not evil from his point of view, but "The Saddest Song" has Jackson impetuously vowing to go to war with the government.So we'll ruin the bank, and we'll cripple the courts
And we'll take on the world for America's sake
And we'll take all the land, and we'll take back the country
And we'll take and we'll take and we'll take and we'll take...
- Villain Song: "The Corrupt Bargain," where a cartoonishly evil John C. Calhoun, a whiny and annoying John Quincy Adams and a Manipulative Bastard Henry Clay plot to rig the election of 1824 to keep Jackson out of the presidency.