Review of Broadway Bounty Hunter at the Greenwich House Theater

  • Our critic's rating:
    Date:
    July 24, 2019
    Review by:

    Annie (played by Annie Golden), a Broadway actress of a certain age, is still showing up at auditions with a 15-year old headshot and a dream in her heart. She drags her sorry self to one more audition only to be humiliated and dismissed. She goes home to find the super has finished her gin, her agent has nothing for her, and Con Ed has turned off her power. Her life is a cosmic mess.

    As a theatregoer, when you buy your ticket and you put your butt in the seat, you are agreeing to suspend reality, to accept an even absurd premise as you sit in the dark and anticipate being entertained.

    Broadway Bounty Hunter makes an especially rich demand on the absurd-premise front. Annie, at the end of her tether, is approached by a band of bizarre bounty hunters who invite her to join them. I know what you are thinking: butt out of the chair. I ask you to wait, relax, and let this exuberant performance take you over.

    The music, the company of martial-arts experts, and even the character of the leading man — Lazarus (Alan H. Green) — borrow a great deal from the Shaft oeuvre of the 1970s. Green’s Shaft is memorably campy, to be sure, but he delivers much more than a parody.

    There is lovely timing in the writing and direction. Just as you begin to think we’ve ridden this silly premise too long (our ageing actress becomes a bounty hunter in Ecuador), there is a smart turn of phrase or a clever lyric, and you are reassured.

    For example, Lazarus’ defining solo is delivered while he is literally driving a truck. He sings of “trouble in the rearview mirror.” A nearly audible groan works its way to your throat. But the next lyric, as he remembers a lost love - "[I] should have protected her, instead I just neglected her” - is completely disarming; not Sondheim, but not bad.

    “Woman of a Certain Age” is a torchy, thematic song signalling Annie’s inevitable empowerment. Golden’s powerhouse voice really sells it. Her range is impressive and her low notes stunning.

    The script is flush with Broadway references - union breaks, a Xanadu tour, sucking up. A Mandy Patinkin slam is especially delightful. The production uses every square inch of stage and aisle. The lighting folks use a clever gambit to “blindfold” the audience. Brad Oscar delivers his over-the-top villain - Mac Roundtree (yes, another homage) — with an old school nastiness so deliciously evil — he’s all but twirling a mustache.

    At the interval, we stood outside the Greenwich House Theater on Barrow Street wondering what next? As it happened, the second act was just plain fun, joyfully silly, in fact. I told my guest on the way out I wanted to go somewhere to dance.

    Broadway Bounty Hunter is a broad musical comedy with touching small moments and some comic surprise. It’s not perfect, but it’s fun… and it does make you want to go dancing.

    (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

    "Annie Golden, beloved by musical theater nerds for her work in shows including “Assassins” and “The Full Monty,” keeps her classic rock belt under wraps in a woebegone vibe, as if Lillian Gish ate Tina Turner. When she lets it out, it’s doubly exciting for the fact of her voice and the surprise of it."
    Jesse Green for New York Times

    "Broadway Bounty Hunter attempts to be the “Being John Malkovich” of stage musicals. The show could be titled “Being Annie Golden,” since the “Orange Is the New Black” actress tells her own backstage story here — well, until she becomes a bounty hunter 15 minutes into the show."
    Robert Hofler for The Wrap

    "Here's a checklist to see if you're likely to enjoy Broadway Bounty Hunter: 1. You're a major fan of theater veteran Annie Golden, currently seen on Netflix's Orange Is the New Black. 2. You think that there just haven't been enough spoofs of '70s-era blaxploitation and kung-fu movies. 3. You have a love of campy musicals demanding little or no emotional engagement. 4. You're willing to check your brain at the door, or better still, leave it at home."
    Frank Scheck for Hollywood Reporter

    "Anyone wondering what genre-hopping composer-lyricist-book writer Joe Iconis would do as an encore to the Broadway run of Tony-nominated Be More Chill need look no further than his immediate past. Written for veteran stage actress Annie Golden and initially produced by Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, Mass. in 2016, Broadway Bounty Hunter is both an R&B-soaked love letter to its star and an inside-joke-laden paean to the Great White Way — labor laws, Mandy Patinkin, weaponized Outer Critics awards and all."
    A. D. Amorosi  for Variety