New Musical about Hollywood’s Tough Guy James Cagney inTap Shoes!
By: Patrick Christiano
The New York premiere of Cagney, a highly entertaining new musical about the screen’s greatest tough-guy, James Cagney, was presened by the York Theatre, where the opening night audience was cheering uproariously after almost every musical number.
Broadway’s Robert Creighton cuts an uncanny resemblence as the legendary star and gives a heartfelt charismatic performance supported by an outstanding cast of talented actors. The fast paced song and dance biography directed by Bill Castellino begins with Cagney at the SAG Awards, where he is being honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Jack Warner, who plucked him from Broadway, producing most of his classic movies, is there to introduce him at the Gala Celebration.
The two, who haven’t seen each other in years, had a challenging on and off relationship for more than 30 years.
The story with a serviceable book by Peter Golley is told in a series of flashbacks with over 20 musical numbers featuring songs with music and lyrics by Robert Creighton and Christopher McGovern , as well as songs by George M. Cohan and musical direction by Matt Perri. The high spirited evening follows the actor’s life from his humble beginnings on New York City’s Lower East Side through his rise as a vaudeville song-and-dance man to his superstardom in Hollywood.
Cagney covers most of the highlights of the actor’s ascent to stardom and his struggle with his image in an insightful and delightful musical journey with fancy choreography by Tony Nomninee Joshua Bergasse that features exciting tap numbers. The score by Creighton and McGovern has fun songs like “There’s Nothing I Won’t Do for You,” Falling In Love,” A Work of Genius,” and “How Will I Be Remembered.”
Cagney was the consummate performer, who could do it all sing, dance, play the bad guy, the good guy, the patriot, the gangster, but apparently at the York the supporting players do it all, as well. They sing, dance, and play numerous characters, switching costumes and personas with consummate ease. They are Jeremy Benton, Danette Holden, Bruce Sabath, Josh Walden, and Ellen Zolezzi. Jeremy Benton, as Bob Hope, has several dynamite tap numbers with Robert Creighton, that alone, are worth the price of a ticket.
The creative team includes James Morgan (sets), Amy Clark (costumes), Brian Nason (lighting), Janie Bullard (sound), Mark Pirolo (projections), and Carol Hanzel (casting). The Production Stage Manager is Larry Smiglewski with Assistant Stage Manager Arthur Atkinson.
Performances began Tuesday, May 19, 2015 for a limited engagement through Sunday, June 21, 2015 at The York Theatre Company at Saint Peter’s (Citicorp Building, entrance on East 54th Street, just east of Lexington Avenue). Opening Night was Thursday evening, May 28.
The York Theatre Company is dedicated to the development of new musicals and preserving musical gems from the past, concludes its 40th Anniversary Season with the New York premiere of the new musical, Cagney.
The performance schedule: Tuesday at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday-Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.