The actress Annie Golden (mute Norma in Orange Is the New Black) stars as the actress Annie Golden, who exchanges the humiliations of auditions for the thrills of a career kick-boxing dangerous criminals in this Off-Broadway musical. Well-meaning, cleverly designed and terrifically sung, Broadway Bounty Hunter has a game and talented cast, a funky pastiche R&B score composed by Joe Iconis, the Tony-nominated songwriter of Be More Chill, and a plot that couldn’t be sillier.
In a note in the script, Iconis and his two fellow book authors explain what they’re trying to do: The show takes its form and style from the blaxploitation and martial arts films of the 1970s, and hopes to do for “women of a certain age” what those films did for African-Americans and Asian-Americans — put them center stage. “We’re dealing with stereotypes and then subverting those stereotypes,” they write, and emphasize: “It’s a musical comedy, but it’s not a parody.”
If the aim of putting an older woman center stage is certainly laudable, I don’t think it follows that the best way to do so is by imitating a 40-year-old over-the-top violent B movie genre. And for all their laughable claims otherwise, the scent of parody seems unavoidable.
Click on any photograph by Matthew Murphy to see it enlarged.