Cagney ★★★★☆

Robert Creighton and the company of “Cagney” (photo: Carol Rosegg)

Westside Theatre – Upstairs
March 16th thru (currently running)
Opened April 3, 2016

Book by Peter Colley
Music & Lyrics by Robert Creighton & Christopher McGovern and George M. Cohan
Arrangements by Christopher McGovern
Directed by Bill Castellino
Choreographed by Joshua Bergasse

Though it kicked around regionally for a couple years and got a swell production at the York recently, “Cagney” is getting a sensational off-Broadway mounting now at the Westside Theatre and – for my money – it’s about time.  Boasting a knockout performance from Robert Creighton in the title role, as well as a tuneful score by Creighton and Christopher McGovern, “Cagney” has upgraded its sets, costumes and production values and qualifies as good, old-fashioned ‘entertainment’ with a capital E!

True, the book by Peter Colley doesn’t stray far from the standard bio-musical form, and there are bits and pieces here and there that feel a bit shop-worn.  But Creighton was born to play Cagney and when he starts dancing, it’s electrifying.  The dancing, in general, is impressive and of a distinctly high quality for an off-Broadway production; credit the choreography by Joshua Bergasse for that.  Sharing the stage and playing all the various family and friends in Cagney’s life are six talented performers who each get their moment (or two) in the spotlight, particularly Jeremy Benton who plays Bob Hope and share a scintillating tap-duet with Creighton that has to rate as one of the best numbers on any stage in New York.

Do yourself a favor.  If you’re feeling worn-out or blue, grab a ticket to “Cagney” and live a little.

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