Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of CAGNEY at Pioneer Theatre Company?

By: Sep. 23, 2019
Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of CAGNEY at Pioneer Theatre Company?

Cagney recently opened at Salt Lake City's Pioneer Theatre Company. Find out what critics had to say!

Cagney played an award-winning off-Broadway run, presented first at the York Theatre, followed by a successful transfer to The Westside Theatre, and a limited engagement in Los Angeles. The Broadway production of Cagney will be produced by Riki Kane Larimer (Enter Laughing, Smokey Joe's Café, Gigi, On the Town) and Kate Edelman Johnson (Wyatt Earp: Return to Tombstone). Cagney features music and lyrics by Robert Creighton and Christopher McGovern, book by Peter Colley (I'll Be Back Before Midnight, The War Show, The Donnellys), and additional materials by Chuck Tatham ("Modern Family," "How I Met Your Mother," "Arrested Development"). Following the success of the 2015 off-Broadway engagement, director Bill Castellino (Desperate Measures, Storyville, Ionescopade) and Tony-nominated choreographer Joshua Bergasse (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Gigi, On the Town) return to the helm of the Broadway-bound production at PTC.

Broadway's Robert Creighton (Disney's Frozen, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Anything Goes), reprises the title role, for which he was awarded the Fred Astaire Award. Darrin Baker (Tarzan, Wonderful Town, Jackie Mason's Laughing Room Only, Footloose and The Scarlet Pimpernel) plays Jack Warner, Cagney's chief adversary and CEO of Warner Brothers. Rounding out the cast is Matt Crowle (Monty Python's Spamalot), Darien Crago (Holiday Inn, White Christmas), Kristen Smith Davis (Anastasia), Jeffry Denman (White Christmas, The Producers, Cats), Robert Anthony Jones (Finding Neverland, The Phantom of the Opera, Hairspray), Charis Leos (The Glass Menagerie at Fulton Theater, Victor/Victoria at TUTS), Daniel Plimpton (The Book of Mormon, Spring Awakening, White Christmas), Melissa Schott (Cirque du Soleil's Banana Shpeel, White Christmas), Edward Tolve (Funny Face at Musicals Tonight, Sayonara at Pan Asian Rep) and Jessica Wockenfuss (Hey, Look Me Over!).

The new Broadway-bound production of Cagney features a scenic design by James Noone (Sunset Boulevard, A Time to Kill, A Bronx Tale, The Rainmaker, The Sunshine Boys); costume design by Gregory Gale (Arcadia, Rock of Ages, The Wedding Singer, Hello, Dolly!, Urinetown); lighting design by Paul Miller (Amazing Grace, The Illusionists, Macbeth, Legally Blonde, Company); projection design by Brad Peterson (Junk, Oslo, Cats); orchestrations by Greg Anthony Rassen (Bandstand, An American in Paris, Bullets Over Broadway, The Little Mermaid); dance arrangements and music direction by Douglas Oberhamer (Swing, Crazy for You, Thoroughly Modern Millie). Jeremy Benton (42nd Street) is the associate choreographer. Cagney features fight choreography by Rick Sordelet (The Lion King, Sunset Boulevard).

Read the reviews below!

Tyler Hinton, BroadwayWorld: James Cagney is played by Robert Creighton, who originated the role of Duke Weselton in FROZEN on Broadway. As part of the creative team behind the musical, Creighton has been involved with it every step of the way, and for good reason. He has an impressive range, bringing to the role a fiery passion, an easy rapport, and sensational tap skills.

Ryan Gurr, Utah Theatre Bloggers: I also couldn't tell if the show was supposed to be a comedy, a romance, or a history. None of these terms seem to be an appropriate descriptor. The comedic points were often presented in a vaudevillian fashion as an aside from the production itself, and the jokes that were told made me cringe more than laugh. There also was not much romance, aside from a song or two about the subplot of Cagney falling in love. And if Cagney is supposed to be a historical production, it was too unfocused to work as a staged biographical sketch.

Catherine Reese Newton, Utah Arts Review: Cagney is a musical in the classic mold, with book by Peter Colley and the bulk of its songs by Christopher McGovern, punctuated by some George M. Cohan standards. It's a creative risk to sandwich original tunes among the Cohan songs everyone knows by heart, but McGovern and Creighton's score includes some smart recurring motifs and uses reprises to make pointed comparisons between Cagney and Warner.

Jennifer Mustoe, Front Row Reviewers: Cagney is a show that fuses chutzpah with heart and history while providing memorable songs and show-stopping choreography. The stories are decades old, yet speak to contemporary issues without being heavy-handed. Due to occasional violence, racial slurs, and mature language, it is not for young audiences, but is well worth watching for the rest.

Josh Petersen, Salt Lake Magazine: Cagney is a deeply nostalgic musical, and its pleasures are borrowed from bygone eras of both Broadway and Hollywood. The musical was well received by the heavily septuagenarian crowd, though anyone could appreciate Cagney's simplicity and eagerness to please.


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