York Theatre Company Presented a Reading of an Original Musical Based on the Life of James Cagney
Robert Creighton's original musical, CAGNEY, took one more step towards a New York run on Friday afternoon, June 13, with a reading at the York Theatre Company as part of their Developmental Reading Series.
CAGNEY, with music and lyrics by Robert Creighton and Christopher McGovern and book by Peter Colley, stars Creighton as James Cagney, following the actor from his humble beginnings in New York City's Lower East Side through his rise as a vaudeville song-and-dance man to superstardom in Hollywood. It traces the volatile relationship with studio head, Jack Warner, and is filled with original show-stopping song and dance numbers, as well as music from Yankee Doodle Dandy, The Seven Little Foys and more. At the York, the dancing was kept at a minimum, though Creighton and Jeremy Benton managed an impressive tap sequence on the York's small stage, including an amazing series of five tightly executed barrel turns by Creighton.
CAGNEY has had three professional productions so far, in Canada and Florida, and is a winner of Florida's Carbonell Award for Best New Work.
The cast at the York included Stuart Zagnit as Jack Warner, Ellen Zolezzi as Cagney's wife (Frances Willard "Billie" Vernon) and Jeremy Benton, Annie Edgerton and Brian Ogilvie rounding out several characters each. They played to a packed house of York patrons, producers and colleagues and fans of the stellar cast.
Judging by the overwhelming applause, abundant laughter and the standing ovation, CAGNEY was extremely well received.
Robert Creighton is a well loved Broadway actor who has appeared in Shakespeare in the Park, the recent Broadway revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood and the entire run of Anything Goes, playing the purser and serving as Joel Grey's understudy. In 2012 he released a debut CD, Ain't We Got Fun, produced by Georgia Stitt. He has been appearing across the country in solo and group concerts, singing the material he loves - Great American Songbook (with emphasis on the 20's and 30's) - and his own original material.