Cagney Wins Over This Critic

Cagney Wins Over This Critic
 Robert Creighton

Robert Creighton

It is amazing that a show that was mediocre, can improve with time and experience. Thus is the case of Cagney opening tonight at Westside Theatre. When I first saw the show at The York theatre, Robert Creighton the star and the composer/lyricist was like an energizer bunny on steroids. Ironically the best song in the show “Tough Guy,” was beyond his singing capabilities. Turns out the song was written by composer/lyricist /arranger Christopher McGovern. Since The York, Creighton has found his balance between energy and creating a solid character we care about. Now “Tough Guy” is one of the best moments in the show. Director Bill Castellino’s has honed the dramatic moments and now the brilliant hoofer chorography by the talented Joshua Bergasse shines.

 Robert Creighton, Jeremy Benton

Robert Creighton, Jeremy Benton

For those who love James Cagney, now you can get the in depth scoop of the man behind the mobster and song and dance man the world loved. Find out how John Barrymore asking for more money and coming to New York to star in a rather poorly reviewed Hamlet, gave Cagney his start. See how Jack Warner (Bruce Sabath) of Warner Bros decided how his career would go. How the McCarthy hearings tried to destroy him and how Bob Hope (Jeremy Benton) was always by his side.

Bruce Sabath, Ellen Zolezzi

Bruce Sabath, Danette Holder

This is obviously a star vehicle for Creighton, who does make an impression. He can sing like an Irish tenor, dances with ease and now wins us over with his presence. I would love to see more of the stalwart Mr. Sabath. I looked forward to his every moment on stage. Mr. Benton also has some fine moments, as does Danette Holden and Ellen Zolezzi who are perfect as the women in his life. Only Josh Walden makes an unfavorable impression. As Cagney’s brother he is excellent but when he is a song and dance man though he sings and acts to par, his presence is back to the annoying “hey kids let’s put on a show.” It is important to add that this is the same cast, director and choreographer and set designer (the terrific James Morgan who is also the artistic director at The York).

Peter Colley’s book needs to draw a little bit more about the man such as the fact Cagney sued Warner for breach of contract and won. He also served two years as the president of the Screen Actors Guild. The last one is a little more important because the show is bookended at the SAG awards presentation, so a mention of that would have been appropriate.

As for the score “A Work of Genius,”“Warner at Work,” “Action (Whit Heat)” and the aforementioned “Tough Guy” are really interesting pieces.

Bravo to the cast, crew and producers; you took a show; I was not really anxious to see again and made me enjoy a night out at the theatre. From the beginning to the end this was a show that grew on my guest and me. For a good old fashion enjoyable time Cagney is a Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Cagney: Westside Theatre, 407 West 43rd St.

Off Broadway

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email:

More in Off Broadway

The McKittrick Hotel Announces The Return Of The Drama Desk Award Winning Production Of The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart

Suzanna BowlingJanuary 29, 2023

Anthony Rapp’s Without You Is a Touching Remembrance on Death and Rent

Suzanna BowlingJanuary 27, 2023

Submissions For Short New Play Festival Open

Suzanna BowlingJanuary 27, 2023

NYTW’s Merrily We Roll Along Triumphs in Reverse, Wonderfully

RossJanuary 25, 2023

The Outer Critics Circle Announces Dates and New Category Distinctions for the 72nd Annual Outer Critics Circle Awards

Suzanna BowlingJanuary 25, 2023
Adrienne Warren

Theatre News: Room, Camelot, Between Riverside and Crazy, Bedlam and Hip Hop Cinderella

Suzanna BowlingJanuary 24, 2023

The York Theatre Company to Present One-Night Only Spring Benefit Concert “Julie Sings Jule”

Suzanna BowlingJanuary 24, 2023

Theatre News: Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar & Grill, Porgy & Bess, Days Of Wine and Roses and Funny Girl

Suzanna BowlingJanuary 22, 2023

Theatre and Music News: Some Like It Hot, Into The Woods, Thelma & Louise, Kimberly Akimbo, Wicked, Patti LuPone and Little Shop of Horrors

Suzanna BowlingJanuary 18, 2023