On the scene: Opening night of ‘Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson’
I was there when it played off Broadway, then attended the media day, and even was present at its first Broadway preview. So when I was invited to the opening night performance and party of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, despite my excitement, I worried people would start thinking I was a Jackson groupie. And maybe I am! Well, not exactly, but there’s no shame in supporting a show that’s this good or one you believe in. And I believe in Andrew Jackson.
I was the plus one of the very generous Sammy Davis, my friend and the mind behind the self-titled Sammy Davis Vintage, who is a vintage fashion expert and stylist. We arrived at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre early enough to soak up the opening-night flashbulbs and festivities occurring on the street. We first saw Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts walk the press line, followed by the very pregnant Katie Finneran, Eve Best, Keith Powell, and Andrew McCarthy. Bloody Bloody writer/director Alex Timbers and composer Michael Friedman also passed through photographers, looking ebullient for the debut of their creative baby. Getting swept up in all the famous faces and buzz, it was easy to lose track of time, and we realized we should go in and take our seats before we missed the curtain.
The excitement in the theater was palpable. I had already observed Donyale Werle and Justin Townsend’s enveloping set and lighting when I attended the first preview performance, but I swear the ornaments glowed brighter this night. The performance began 15 minutes late, but when it did, the audience gave the cast of Bloody Bloody a warm welcome. Title star Benjamin Walker riffed a little more than usual in his opening statements, warning the audience that their sustained applause was just delaying them all from the open bar at the after party.
After another solid performance, it was off to Brasserie 8 1/2 up at 57 St. Sammy and I descended the winding stairs into an already-celebrating mob of well-dressed, cheery partiers. We high-tailed it to the press room, where the post-performance-discussion frenzy had just begun. Sammy was on the hunt for costume designer Emily Rebholz, while I sought out cast members. Sammy and Emily chatted about fringe jackets, locations for amazing finds, and recurring trends from fashion history while Jeff Hiller, Emily Young, and I discussed lessons learned during previews, settling into the Jacobs Theatre, and comedic inspirations.
Video: Actors Jeff Hiller and Emily Young spill opening-night details, with a look around the party scene
Strange/funny moment that happened while Emily and I were talking: I was facing the wall, or what I thought was a wall, during our interview. Suddenly, the wall begins to slide, and the visual created a sort of optical illusion to me and I felt dizzy and as if I was going to fall over. (Think of the feeling you get when you’re sitting on a still subway or bus, and an adjacent one begins moving the opposite direction.) The wall was actually a movable partition, and management was expanding the room. Maybe you needed to be in my head to understand, but in the first few seconds it was happening, I thought it was me, not the room, and that it was a precursor to blacking out and fainting. I’m glad that didn’t happen. (The incident was caught on tape—like all great moments. Look for it in this week’s Stage Rush TV.)
Watching the photography line at the party was exciting, because everyone seemed really into it. Mamie Gummer joined her fiancé, Walker, for photos, and looked stunning in a high-collar white dress. Her sister, Grace Gummer, was in sight all night in a form-fitting black dress, and looked beautiful. Unfortunately, their mother, a little-known actress named Meryl Streep, was not in attendance, but seeing her offspring definitely sufficed.
The entire Bloody Bloody cast and creative team huddled together for a group photo, and I couldn’t help but feel excited for all these actors making their Broadway debut. The ladies of Bloody Bloody gathered for a female-only photo, and all looked stunning—particularly Maria Elena Ramirez in a purple number.
While tending to our bellies with baked ziti, pasta and sweet sausage, and mushroom risotto (a dull offering, but nevertheless tasty), we chatted with cast members Ben Steinfeld, Kate Cullen Roberts, and Nadia Quinn. One of the most standout elements of the night was the bright, celebratory mood everyone was in. You could talk to, congratulate, compliment, and chat up anyone and it was a welcome gesture. Being in that environment was infectious and invigorating.
There was an impressive Bloody Bloody-themed cake on display, which no one ate a piece of the entire night. A red “A/J” topped the white-iced cake, which was adorned with symbolic elements from the show, including white Indian feathers, a fringe jacket, and part of Andrew Jackson’s white, Victorian coat. In addition, the show poster’s iconic American-flag-in-back-pocket jeans were affixed to the cake’s base, as were a few bloody knives. I imagine such a cake was also present at the Sweeney Todd opening night bash.
In addition to the bloody (and uneaten) cake, bartenders were serving up a custom cocktail for the night—Bloodytinis. They were delicious, and partygoers surely weren’t neglecting them.
Ending the night was regrettable, as it had been such a joyous evening of celebration and good humor. Bloodytinis and attractive attendees aside, truly the best aspect of the night was the happy atmosphere. Chatting and laughing with both members of Bloody Bloody and supporters was a blast. Rubbing elbows with newly-crowned Broadway royalty wasn’t too bad either. Congratulations to the cast and crew, and long live Andrew Jackson!
This was my first Broadway opening. What openings have you attended, Rushers? Let me know what cool opening stories you have in the comments below. Don’t forge to follow Stage Rush on Facebook and Twitter for on-the-go updates, news, and sightings!