by Edward Medina
Broadway Bounty Hunter is a living breathing nonstop comic book action adventure smash hit with a real live bad to the bone legendary leading lady kickin’ ass and taking names. One can almost feel the vibrantly colored pages turning and words like pow, boing, and kablam jumping out at you. With music and lyrics by Joe Iconis and a book by Joe Iconis, Jason SweetTooth Williams and Lance Rubin, this groovy kung fu fisted romp is deeply reminiscent of the great martial art and blacksploitation films of seventies cinema. Broadway Bounty Hunter is what a musical would look and sound like if Quentin Tarantino got his hands on one and it is glorious in its revelry.
Without giving away too many of the twists and turns of the plot, actress Annie Golden, playing herself to a great degree, has come to that “woman of a certain age” point in her career where she’s being belittled and ignored by directors at every audition. Depressed and on the verge of giving up, she suddenly finds herself cast in a real life roll she never would have dreamed of in her wildest imaginings. Annie gets recruited by a secret gang of kung fu-fighting bounty hunters and soon finds herself going from fighting for roles to fighting on the streets of New York and the jungles of South America. Suddenly, this down on her luck actress is discovering new skills as well as her true self as she becomes embroiled in a hunt for a super villain she’s apparently been destined to defeat.
A moment must be taken to appreciate the goddess that Anne Golden truly is. For those of you who don’t know, Annie is a singer and actress with an impressive and wildly varied career. She was the lead singer of the punk band The Shirts and they helped put New York’s legendary club CBGB’s on the map. Director Milos Forman fell for her considerable charms and vocal skills and cast her in the film version of the rock musical Hair. Since then she’s gone on to further success on Broadway in Assassins and The Full Monty, she’s recently been seen on cables Orange Is The New Black and was discovered once again on the concert stage, this time by Joe Iconis. For those of you who do know her, rest assured that the little red headed fox is in fine form. She excels as herself in Broadway Bounty Hunter which is no small task considering how powerful a performer she continues to be.
In fairness, the entire cast of Broadway Bounty Hunter is to be lauded. They themselves have bought the premise hook, line, and sinker and there’s great fun in that, which in turn makes it great fun for the rest of us. Director and choreographer Jennifer Werner masterfully wields her own super powers and lets her actors do what they do best be they ninjas, drag queen unicorns, or young drugged out ingenues. Special mentions must be given to Alan H. Green whose smooth walkin’ and smooth talkin’ Lazarus charms the crowd while channeling his inner vocal stylings of the late great Luther Vandross. Tony nominee Brad Oscar nearly steals the show with his big, broad, deliciously over the top super villain Mac Roundtree. Attention must also be paid to the ladies in the ensemble who are commanding in the multiple roles they play embodying the female empowerment message of the overall production.
The music of the world of Broadway Bounty Hunter is slick, proud, and when needed very touching. With music direction and orchestrations by Charlie Rosen, the rhythm and pulse of the seventies fills the Greenwich House Theater almost to excess. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. A big broad show requires a big broad sound. Those pounding beats and signature guitar licks, provided by an amazing house band under the musical direction of the incomparable Geoffrey Ko, are reminders of the heady days of powerful soul ballads and early yet to be fully realized beats of the coming disco era. The overall design is also an all-encompassing thing. At a time when the word immersive is thrown around a lot set designer Michael Schweikardt and lighting designers Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer use the entirety of both the stage and the house to bring Broadway Bounty Hunter to exquisite life. Along with the various moving panels and set pieces brought in and out Brad Peterson’s projection designs transport us through time and space rivaling some of Broadway’s best.
Broadway Bounty Hunter is the next installment from what is quickly becoming the Joe Iconis hit factory. The prolific artist has his finger on the pulse of the future of American Musical Theatre. This next generation Sondheim may not be totally winning over the Broadway old guard establishment, yet, but he certainly has his young constituents by their collective mind, body, and soul. Iconis knows what they like, he knows how to reach them, and he knows how to put get them in the seats. To that end he wields the double-edged sword of social media like an electronic ninja and he nurtures his creations by surrounding himself with superb likeminded talent. This production is smart in that Iconis and company are cleverly playing to both sides of the coin. The subject matter is freshly presented for his young fans and he’s not afraid to poke fun of the success he has had in that world with self-deprecating humor. He’s also given the grown-ups a dose of nostalgia that reminds them that he has not forgotten how to boogie down with the best of them.
Photos: Matthew Murphy
Broadway Bounty Hunter – Greenwich House Theater, 27 Barrow Street NYC
https://www.broadwaybountyhunter.com/ July 23 – Sept 15, 2 Hours and 15 min with One Intermission