Cagney the Musical is playing at the West Side Theatre located at 407 West 43rd street. It runs two hours twenty minutes with one intermission. It is an open ended run.
The musical played at the York Theatre in 2015.
James Cagney was born in the lower east side in 1899 and died in 1986. He was an actor and dancer in movies and stage. James is best known for the movies , The Public Enemy” (1931), “Angels With Dirty Faces” (1938), “Yankee Doodle Dandy”(1942) and ”White Heat” (1949)
It’s 1978 and James Cagney (Robert Creighton) meets Jack Warner (Bruce Sabath) at the Screen Actors Guild get together. James is getting a lifetime achievement award and Jack is introducing him. Jack runs Warner Brothers where Cagney made many of his films. Cagney left the studio several times on the difference on what type of films he should make.
Jimmy supported his mother (Danette Holden) and his brother Bill (Josh Walden) as a laborer. Many a time the workers would be short change on what was due them. He was fired when he complained about not getting paid what was due him. This is before there were labor unions. There is an ad in the want as for a dancer in a vaudeville act. He gets the job. His dance partner is Willie (Ellen Zolezzi) who later becomes his wife.
As his reputation grows, Jack Warner decide he is interested in having Cagney join Warner Brothers Studio. Jack talks him into making a movie. After 28 movies that Cagney plays the bad guy, he wants to play something else. The three movies he makes are flops. His friend Bob Hope ( Jeremy Benton) talks him in to make a movie with him called The Seven Little Foys, another flop.
This is a captivating musical about a talented man, one who the younger generation should know about.
We learn things about Cagney that the audience may not know about hm. For example he was accused of being a communist in 1940 .There was a red scare then too!
There is not much of a set, three screens that move back and forth. The orchestra is behind it. Images are projected on the screen, like photos of the original people being portrayed or move poster of a particular movie being talked about. You don’t need much and it works.
This is a very talented cast. They play several roles, all with such gusto. Roberto Creighton does look a little like Cagney. He does an amazing job of being James Cagney, the man we go to know on screen and now off.
The tap dance routines were fantastic. I loved when they were writing scripts. Using hand motion and the tip of the shoes to sound as if a key had been hit; it makes you feel as if there was a type writer in front of them.
This is a musical worth seeing, even if you don’t know who James Cagney is. If you weren’t a fan before you will be now.
Review by Rozanna Radakovich
Photos by Annazor
To read a candid interview with the cast, scroll down to the left for recent photos. Click on recent photos for this and others shows.