Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 23, 2016

Broadway Bounty Hunter

Barrington Stage Co., Pittsfield, MA
through September 4, 2016
by Jarice Hanson

Barrington Stage’s new musical, “Broadway Bounty Hunter” features an extraordinarily talented cast of 12 actor/singer/dancers, and a live band of six versatile musicians on the very intimate St. Germain Stage. Authors Joe Iconis, Lance Rubin, and Jason SweetTooth Williams write in the playbill; “Thanks to every artist who has ever been made to feel less than, not as good as, too black, too white, too weird, too old, too young, too whatever. This one’s for you.”

Photo by Scott Barrow
The incomparable Annie Golden, known to many from her stage and television performances (most recently as the silent Norma in “Orange is the New Black”), plays herself—Annie Golden. As a “woman of a certain age,” Annie is experiencing the prejudice that comes with being past her prime in theatre, and when she can’t pay her bills, she is visited by a frightening group of martial arts-experts headed by Shiro Jin (Scott Watanabe), who convinces her to join them as a bounty hunter. She’s partnered with Lazarus (Alan H. Green), a big, powerful Black Man complete with swagger and a pimp’s outfit, and together they set off to capture Mac Roundtree (Jeff McCarthy), a drug lord.  

The situations are preposterous, and the music and lyrics, also by Joe Iconis, draw from every popular culture genre of the 1970’s. Most obvious are the images from black sexploitation films—themselves notorious for the sketchiest of plots, but we get many more familiar themes, from theatre (especially “Hair,” Ms. Golden’s first Broadway show), and “jukebox” musicals that featured popular music of the day. Throughout the show, Golden’s own experiences and her masterful delivery poke fun at theatre and the acting profession. We can laugh at her predicament, because we sense an optimistic denouement for our heroine. The entire cast is so strong and the characterizations so engaging, we can’t help but go along for the ride.

The show’s concept originated in Barrington Stage’s Musical Theatre Lab, and like all new musicals, has been in development for a while. It’s hard to think of anyone playing the lead but Annie Golden, but in a way that doesn’t matter. The show is fun, makes you laugh with the characters and situations, rather than at them, and reminds you that no matter who you are, every day brings a new start.