Robert Creighton, the triple-threat fireplug of an actor who has distinguished himself in Broadway’s Anything Goes and The Mystery of Edwin Drood, will tap his way back into a familiar property on June 13, when his award-winning musical Cagney gets a private industry reading at York Theatre Company’s home in New York City.
The musical biography inspired by the life of film actor James Cagney has a book by Peter Colley, music and lyrics by Robert Creighton & Christopher McGovern and additional music by George M. Cohan. (Yes, expect tuneful references to Cagney’s iconic film role as Cohan in “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”)
Bill Castellino (Storyville, Doctor Radio, Ionescopade, Grumpy Old Men the Musical) directs. Musical direction is by Greg Anthony, with original choreography by Emmy Award winner Josh Bergasse (TV’s “Smash” and Broadway’s upcoming On the Town).
The cast features Creighton in the title role, with Stuart Zagnit as movie mogul Jack Warner, plus Jeremy Benton, Annie Edgerton, Brian Ogilvie and Ellen Zolezzi.
Following its 2009 world premiere at (the now sadly defunct) Florida Stage, Cagney won Florida’s Carbonell Award for Best New Work and earned five additional nominations (Best Actor, Best Production of a Musical, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Musical Direction and Best Choreography). It was later produced by Riverside Theatre in Florida and at the Drayton Festival and Huron Country Playhouse in Creighton’s native Canada.
Here’s how the show is billed: “Cagney follows 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 show-stopping numbers from ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy,’ ‘The Seven Little Foys’ and more.”
Check out Creighton’s album “Ain’t We Got Fun,” a collection of tunes from the Cagney era.