CagneyThe Musical Review - A Rousing Performance

When I first decided to see Cagney the Musical I thought to myself, 'this will be a generational musical.'  After all, James Cagney was born in 1899.  That was 117 years ago - My grandparents time on earth.  But his legend continues....

PHOTOS by Carol Rosegg -

Yet, as part of my library, of which I am very selective, is White Heat, the final film made by James Cagney and called 'one of the most historic movies of all time.'  The movie was made in 1949 and today, Rotten Tomatoes, our favorite 'rate and review the movies' site, gives it 100%.  That is perfect.


Why, would you ask, do I have this particular movie and have had it for decades.  It's because my brother and I saw the video more than 30 years ago.  He loved it and sent me the movie.  I haven't watched it since I was a kid, but you bet I will since just I saw Cagney the Musical, this week.

PHOTOS by Carol Rosegg -

Let me begin by saying that Robert Creighton played Cagney in more ways than one.  He was an absolute double of Cagney in his looks, his hair, his expressions, his tone, in every way.  What a match and what a TALENT!  He also wrote the music and lyrics for many of the musical numbers in the show, along with Christopher McGovern.


He is not only a talented tapper (as his entire cast is, as well), he is the 'mobster of the movies.'   At only 5'5" tall, he never even dreamed he would be Tony Soprano in his day.  In 1978 James Cagney was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by SAG, introduced by Jack Warner.  Theirs was a bumpy relationship throughout the 48 years they knew each other.  They constantly fought over Cagney's' passion for the workers' rights.

PHOTOS by Carol Rosegg -

James Cagney the hoofer and the actor, came from a poor Irish household.  He and his mom had a special relationship.  No matter what he did or aspired to do, she always gave him the courage and fortitude to go for his dreams.  And did he! His mom was so much of an inspiration to him,  well, that's what makes White Heat such a wonderful film;  Cagney began dancing  with women in vaudeville, eventually tap-dancing his part on-the-road, where he met his wife, Willy (Ellen Zolezzi)

PHOTOS by Carol Rosegg -

As we all may know, James Cagney played George M. Cohan in his life story, Yankee Doodle Dandy. in this legendary biography.  Creighton and his cast give a rousing rendition of the famous patriotic songs we all know and love. including Yankee Doodle Dandy, You're a Grand Old Flag, and a myriad of patriotic songs we all know and love. These songs were part of American culture during both our World Wars.

PHOTOS by Carol Rosegg -

With only six actors, dancers, entertainers playing all the parts in different scenes, this was a show where perfection was the key.  Each actor, Jeremy Benton, Danette Holden, Bruce Sabath, Josh Walden, Ellen Zolezzi, possessed perfect pitch and perfection in dance.  The comedy, although over-the-top as it was in vaudeville, was very funny.  The camaraderie among the cast was electric. 


Creighton portrayal of Cagney was breathtaking, literally, as he never stopped, not for one moment, giving us a show to remember.  Reacquaint yourself with Mr. Cagney.  Watch one of the 64 films he made.


Cagney features a scenic design by James Morgan, costume design by Martha Bromelmeier, lighting design by Michael Gilliam, sound design by Janie Bullard, projection design by Mark Pirolo, music coordination by Larry Lelli, fight direction by Christian Kelly-Sordelet and Rick Sordelet, casting by Carol Hanzel, and general management by Brierpatch Productions.

PHOTOS by Carol Rosegg -



The Westside Theater - upstairs

413 West 43rd Street (Between 9th and 10th Ave.)

New York City

For more information:

Cagney the Musical website



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