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A CurtainUp Berkshire Review
Broadway Bounty Hunter

People always think of me as a Gooch — Annie
annie golden
BOSBBH7 Annie Golden and Jeff McCarthy. (Photo by Scott Barrow).
Broadway Bounty Hunter premiered last weekend at Barrington Stage Company's intimate St. Germain Theatre with a multitalented cast, fantastical plot and booty-shaking music. Thanks to director Julianne Boyd and Tony winner William Finn, the development of new musicals has taken an important role for the Pittsfield-based group.

The composer, lyricist and co-book writer Joe Iconis, known mostly for his cabaret music, along with co-writers Lance Rubin and Jason Sweet Tooth Williams, has delivered a zany spoof filled with familiar t.v. and film elements. By combining (take a deep breath) black sexploitation and kung fu action movie concepts sprinkled with reality show, Saturday Night Live absurdity and dominated by funkadelic bad-ass sounds, rock and roll, and wigs—fabulous wigs, Broadway Bounty Hunter's satirical take on the 70's and 80's cliched confections should plaster a big smile as actors, dancers and musicians occupy the stage and the aisles with constant sound and movement.

Annie Golden, played by Annie Golden, is a middle-aged actress who is grasping at any role but is now only considered for parts such as "the kooky maid," if at all. In auditions she is pitted against younger actors who are arrogant and self-involved. When one girl remarks that Annie (real and character) has appeared in Hair, Assassins, Leader of the Pack and The Full Monty, Annie brightens only to be deflated by the fact that instead of being recognized she was googled.

Annie returns home defeated, humiliated and, yet again, rejected, only to have her electricity turned off – a metaphor for her entire situation. Though Annie's body may have aged out, her voice remains fluid and powerful with a force that belies her physicality as she shares her plight in songs such as "Woman of a Certain Age" and "Spin Those Records."

As Annie laments the loss of her dead husband Charlie and her inability to find a job, her home is invaded by a troop of ninja-like warriors. She has been recruited by Shiro Jin, played by a masterful Scott Watanbe, who, as a powerful martial arts mentor, is dedicated to hunting down Mac Roundtree, a drug-pushing, brothel owner hiding in Venezuela.

Annie must decide either to remain in her dead-end life or to take the challenge issued by Shiro Jin and his skeptical followers played by Badia Farha, Anastasia McCleskey, George Salazar, Shannon Tyo and Jason Veasey, who also morph into street people and "ho's" among other characters with elan. They sing, dance and kung fu posture in perpetual motion, commanding the small stage with their youthful vivacity and sexiness. As with the earlier summer production of The Pirates of Penzance on Barrington's main stage, this cast is proficient and their energy level speeds the story line along so that the silliness and over-the-top plot contrivances seem reasonable.

As Annie embarks on her new career and training regimen she is paired with Lazarus, an intensely mesmerizing enigma whose stage presence and voice combine in the no-nonsense Black super hero who hides his emotional pain with a stoical sneer and, true to his name, lives to fight another day.

Annie's downtrodden demeanor slowly dissolves in the face of Jin's challenging mission and Lazarus' sex appeal. She takes on a positive glow as living on the edge and facing danger restores her youthful daring. Her years searching for roles and facing rejection blend well to create a new Annie — one who has the patience and skill required to stalk and capture her prey.

In fact, as pointed out by Shiro Jin's "proposition," Annie's acting skills are perfect for a bounty hunter who requires " part animal instinct, one part primal rage, one part valiant courage and the wisdom that comes with age."

The dynamic, if unlikely duo, finally battle their way into the evil lair of Mac Roundtree, Jeff McCarthy's ever-hyper and delicious villain, dressed in white and evilly insane in his pronouncements. McCarthy sings and moves with snake-like gloating and adds another twist to an already goofy plot.

All of these antics are highlighted by six musicians sitting in full view at the rear of the stage who "get down" with a great retro sound that enhances this updated satirical daffiness pouring from the boards. The costumes by Bobby Frederick Tilley are a send-up of the 70's and 80's fashion aberrations. Scenic designer Timothy Mackabee aided by the lighting of Eric Southern creates the trip from New York to Venezuela and back smoothly with a few deft placements of a sliding door and palm trees; this "less is more" approach adds to the quirkiness of the piece.

The show could use a little cutting in act one. So what show does not in its embryonic stage?

Don't quibble with the outlandish elements of the plot, just willingly suspend disbelief and you'll be sucked into the pleasures that Broadway Bounty Hunter delivers on every level.

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Broadway Bounty Hunter
Music and lyrics by Joe Iconis
Book by Joe Iconis, Lance Rubin and Jason Sweet Tooth Williams
Directed by Julianne Boyd
Choreographed by Jeffrey Page
Music supervisor/orchestrations: Charlie Rosen
Musical direction/vocal arrangements: Joel Waggoner
Cast: Annie Golden (Annie Golden) Alan H. Green (Lazarus) Jeff McCarthy (Mac Roundtree) Badia Farha (Street Singer, Sienna, Madam) Kourtney Keitt (Ensemble) Anastacia McCleskey Claudine/Janessa/Reporter) Jamie Patterson (Ensemble) Porsha Putney (Ensemble) George Salazar (Director/Spark Plug) Shannon Tyo (Cortnie Jessica Davies/Indigo) Jason Veasey (Felipe/Esteban) Scott Watanbe (Shiro Jin)
Scene design: Timothy Mackabee
Lighting design: Eric Southern
Costume design: Bobby Frederick Tilley
Sound design: Josh Millican
Stage Manager: E Sara Barnes
Fight choreography: Ryan Winkles
Running Time: Two hours; one intermission
Barrington Stage Company, St. Germain Stage, Linden St., Pittsfield, MA
From 8/13/16; opening 8/19/16; closing 9/4/16
Due to popular demand there's an additional matinee on August 31st.
Reviewed by Gloria Miller at August 24 performance

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