WHAT "Broadway Bounty Hunter"
WHERE Greenwich House Theater, 27 Barrow St.
INFO Tickets, from $49, 866-811-4111, broadwaybountyhunter.com
BOTTOM LINE The fertile mind of Joe Iconis takes us on a humorous romp through the world of bounty hunting.
If you’re going to write a musical for someone, why not go all in and name the lead character after said person? Gimmicky to be sure, but it most definitely works in "Broadway Bounty Hunter," the rollicking Joe Iconis musical at the Greenwich House Theater. The Garden City composer, whose "Be More Chill" closes Aug. 11 on Broadway, wrote the show for the woman he considers his muse, Annie Golden. And as noted in the last scene, she's a tour de force in the role.
To be clear, Annie Golden the actress and Annie Golden the character (a down-on-her-luck actress aging out of every job she goes for) are not one and the same, though parallels are plentiful. She was, as the script notes, actually in "Hair," "Assassins" and "The Full Monty,” though recently she's best known as Norma in "Orange is the New Black."
But Iconis and writing partners Jason SweetTooth Williams and Lance Rubin go well beyond the facts for this occasionally implausible yarn, a campy homage to the exploitation and martial arts films of the '70s that casts Golden as an action hero, of all things, caught up in the unlikely world of bounty hunting. She treats the whole thing like another play rehearsal, which only adds to the hilarity.
In the wrong hands, this could be a total disaster. But Iconis' pop score soars (the powerful anthem "Veins" could be the next "Michael in the Bathroom"), and Golden is a treasure, her expressive face speaking volumes, the rocker vibes from her days as lead singer for The Shirts blissfully intact.
Joining her in this romp, directed and choreographed by Jennifer Werner, are Alan H. Green as the swoon-worthy leading man (think Shaft, burgundy faux fur and all) and Tony nominee Brad Oscar, chewing the scenery as the villain of the piece, with a delicious twist that would be criminal to divulge.
Praise, too, for the tiny but electric ensemble that sells the show big-time while making impossibly quick changes from warriors to glittery backup dancers to outlandish hookers (costumes by Sarafina Bush). Set designer Michael Schweikardt and projection designer Brad Peterson make the most of the tiny theater, with work that spills off the stage to encompass the whole house.
It’s all great fun, but there’s an underlying and welcome message of empowerment as the show takes on the ageism that "Women of a Certain Age," as the opening song is called, must contend with these days. To which we can only echo a famous expression from the "Shaft" theme song: "Right on!"