Geek Gal’s Broadway Bounty Hunter Review – A Raucous Campy DelightBy Caroline Cao | August 14, 2019 | Entertainment
It ain’t easy for women of a certain age to maintain fame. Exceptions might find longevity in elevated stage fame like Bernadette Peters or Patti LuPone, but not all. Among those who have not, though not without past renown, is the sexagenarian Annie Golden, playing herself.
Broadway Bounty Hunter had its first production at the Barrington Stage Company in 2016 before it was re-imagined the Greenwich House Theater for a limited run. While I had not seen the previous run, its current iteration at Greenwich is a riot.
The fictionalized Annie on stage struggles to find a job. But as the opening number sings, it’s tough for a woman her age to find one. She has a theater resume including original productions of Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins and Hair (literally, Annie’s true resume), but her past renown can’t get her a job. She is turned away by an insensitive casting director and left to mope. Then she receives the notice of a tall and elegant sensei (Emily Borromeo, entertainingly ostentatious) who senses the spark in her and trains the actress in the way of the bounty hunter.
Annie beams with charm, wearing a default doltish demeanor, astonished with nonsense while also being open to nonsense. Her arc is delightful because she never loses sight of her mildness even when she molds herself into a bounty hunter. She shares a killer chemistry with her new partner, the swaggering Lazarus (Alan H. Green), who’s pumped up with manly brashness, but then learns to soften up around her.
Joe Iconis’ ecstatic and swanky stew of R&B, funk, and soul are perhaps some of his best music and lyrical work fitting for this screwball assassin feminist-fantasy comedy. His long-time collaborators Jason SweetTooth Williams and Lance Rubin also contributed to the fourth-wally script.
Any theatre fan would love the theatre jokes, especially with immersion aspects of bounty hunters rehearsing their kung fu among the aisles or the climax where an evil producer makes his performers perform, no, not eight times a week, but 15 times a week.
Might I share some quibbles with a material that does shoot toward feminist-fantasy progressivism? There is a white (woman) savior aspect that could have used a hella lot more lampshading, considering that our white heroine goes to South America and teaches a black sex worker to unionize. There are also cheap digs at younger generation women. A “Young People” musical gag works well as a gag about when old producers package what they think kids want, though a young female millennial who seems malicious to older women feels cheap. I might say that the deliberate outrageousness and a fair amount of female-to-female camaraderie make up for those quibbles, but they do stand out.
But otherwise, Broadway Bounty Hunter is an explosively odd-bally show. It’s baffling the show will face an early closure on August 18. I hope it will resurrect in another form with its same golden leading lady.
Learn more about the Broadway Bounty Hunter here.
photo credit: Broadway Bounty Hunter