Fall 2012, No. 2: Ben Dicke Presents’ “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”

Ben Dicke as an emo-rocking, Indian-slaying seventh U.S. president in his self-produced, “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.” He’s shown with music director Jason Tyler Vaughn.
By John Moore

When: Sept. 7-Oct. 28

Written by: Michael Friedman and Alex Timbers

The story:  This inventive ensemble piece, developed by a bunch of talented smart-alecks,  is a comedic, Wild West rock musical about the founder of the Democratic Party, who was either one of the greatest U.S. presidents, or America’s Hitler. Or both. It presents Andrew Jackson, America’s seventh president, as a modern-day emo rock star who stumbles into populism, Indian removal and tremendous power. The musical is both a treatise on  America’s pop-culture celebrity obsession (then and now) and a compelling (and occasionally even factual) historical account. This underdog show briefly transferred to Broadway, not because it had any chance of fitting in on the Great White Way, but because producer Oskar Eustis wanted to increase  its exposure so that renegade artists like Denver’s Ben Dicke might be daring enough to start a theater company just to put his little skit on for metro theater audiences.

Why it made the list:  Because, along with “Spring Awakening” and “The Book of Mormon,” this is among my favorite  three musicals of the millennium. Because, when it came out in 2009 at the off-Broadway Public Theatre, I thought it blew the lame and lazy Green Day vehicle “American Idiot” out of the water. Because it’s both smart and satirizing, and perfectly timed for the distressingly relevant 2012 political campaign season. And because theater at large desperately needs more musicals with rock music like this one that will invite younger audiences in like no other.

Cast list:

Andrew Diessner


Director: Ben Dicke
Musical Direction: Jason Tyler Vaughn
Choreographer: Piper Arpan

Chris Arneson: Henry Clay/Black Fox
Joel Chavez: John Quincy Adams
Ben Dicke: Andrew Jackson
Andrew Diessner: Bandleader
Kaden Hinkle: Lyncoya Jackson
Traci Kern: Storyteller
Kenzie Kilroy: Female vocalist
Cora Marsh: Female vocalist
Norell Moore: Rachel Jackson
Josh Nelson: Martin Van Buren
Alejandro Roldan: James Monroe
Steffan Scrogan: John C. Calhoun

Where: Aurora Fox studio theater, 9900 E. Colfax Ave.

Performance times:  7:30 Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 6 p.m. Sundays
Tickets: $25-$30

Contact: 303-739-1970 or the aurora fox’s home page



My review of the original “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” in New York

Quote: “Sometimes, you have to shoot the storyteller in the head.”

Call it the antithesis of “American Idiot.” This hormonally charged new off-Broadway musical also employs driving emo-punk rock — only ingeniously. This is a hysterically funny history lesson on a man who was either America’s greatest expansionist, or its Hitler. Or both. Emerging in tight jeans and eye liner, one hand on his holster and the other on his mic, our seventh president is presented here in the same way some see President Barack Obama: as a brooding, smoldering rock star. If you are familiar with the irreverent intelligence of Denver’s Buntport Theater, you have a good bead on this audacious mash-up of fact and tomfoolery.

We meet A.J. as he’s just become an orphan at 14. “Life sucks,” he says with deadpan timing, “. . . and my life sucks in particular.” But through catchy ditties like “Populism, Yea, Yea,” you can’t help but come out with a surprisingly sharpened understanding of a dusty chapter in American history — including the part about the (first) stolen presidential election.

This musical comes from the same company that took Hell House out of Colorado and introduced it to New York audiences as theater. Originally intended to run for only a month, it’s been extended three times at the Public Theatre.

Photo: Benjamin Walker strikes an Ashton Kutcher-like “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.” (Photo by Joan Marcus)

The Fall 2012 theater preview countdown:

No. 1: Curious Theatre’s “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”
No. 2: Ben Dicke Presents’ “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”
No. 3: Abster Productions’ “August: Osage County”
No. 4: Midtown Arts Center’s “In the Heights”
No. 5: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Giver”
No. 6: Local Theater Company’s “Elijah: An Adventure”
No. 7: Vintage Theatre’s “The Cider House Rules”
No. 8: Miners Alley Playhouse’s “The Three Penny Opera”
No. 9: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s “Make Sure It’s Me”
No 10: Creede Rep’s “Is He Dead?” at the Arvada Center
No. 11: Theatre Or’s “The Value of Names”

Among the many other shows to watch:

Sept. 1-16, 2012: Ami Dayan Presents “A Happy End,” at Buntport Theater Read my interview with playwright Iddo Netanyahu
Sept. 4-16, 2012: National touring production of “La Cage Aux Folles,” at the Buell Theatre
Sept. 7-Nov. 3, 2012: Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “Avenue Q”
Sept. 7-22, 2012: Germinal Stage-Denver’s “A Kind of Alaska”
Sept. 7-Oct. 6, 2012: Spark Theater’s “Rebecca” (note new address: 985 Santa Fe Drive)
Sept. 11-30, 2012: Arvada Center’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (and Oct. 4-14 at the Lone Tree Arts Center)
Sept. 13-16, 2012: PACE Center’s “Scarlet Letter, The Musical” (Parker)
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Town Hall Arts Center’s “Sweet Charity” (Littleton)
Sept. 14-Nov. 10, 2012: The Avenue’s “Murder Most Fowl”
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Ashton Entertainment’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” at the Aurora Fox studio theater
Sept. 15-Oct. 14, 2012: Bas Bleu’s “The Love of the Nightingale” (Fort Collins)
Sept. 20-Oct. 14, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Fences” (Space Theatre
Sept. 21-Oct. 21, 2012: The Edge’s “Boom” (Lakewood)
Sept. 27-Oct 21, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Three Musketeers” (Stage Theatre)
Oct. 2-24, 2012: And Toto Too’s “Pardon My Dust” (at Laundry on Lawrence)

Complete Denver Post theater listings:

By company

By opening date

Capsules of all currently running productions


By John Moore

Award-winning arts journalist John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the United States by American Theatre Magazine during has 12 years at The Denver Post. Hen then created a groundbreaking new media outlet covering Colorado arts an culture as an in-house, multimedia journalist for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. He also founded The Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that has raised more than $600,000 for theatre artists in medical need. He is now a journalist for hire as the founder of Moore Media Colorado. You can find samples of his work at MooreJohn.Com. Contact him at culturewestjohn@gmail.com