‘Broadway Bounty Hunter’ runs through Sept. 15 at the Greenwich House Theater, 27 Barrow St., broadwaybountyhunter.com.
It is no secret that out-of-work actors need to take on day jobs in order to pay the bills — the most famous example being waiting tables at restaurants in the Theater District. But a new Off-Broadway musical suggests that actors ought to seriously think about following in the footsteps of Boba Fett, the infamous “Star Wars” bounty hunter who captured Han Solo.
In “Broadway Bounty Hunter,” a freewheeling, karate-chopping, meta-theatrical musical comedy with a funk and R&B-style score by Tony nominee Joe Iconis (“Be More Chill”), 67-year-old Broadway veteran Annie Golden plays an alternate universe version of herself who unexpectedly finds a new line of work as a professional bounty hunter and embarks on an urban crime-action-adventure saga.
Following a world premiere three years ago in Massachusetts, “Broadway Bounty Hunter” is receiving a short Off-Broadway run in the West Village. (In the interests of full disclosure, my wife’s cousin is a co-producer of the production.)
“Broadway Bounty Hunter” comes on the heels of Iconis’ sci-fi teen musical “Be More Chill,” which premiered Off-Broadway last summer and then transferred to Broadway, where it will play its final performance on Aug. 11.
As the show begins, Golden (whose many stage credits include “Hair,” “The Full Monty” and the 1984 flop “Leader of the Pack,” and who also played the mute inmate Norma on “Orange is the New Black”) is making the rounds at auditions, where she endures endless rejections and condescending remarks from younger performers and casting directors alike.
But just as the future looks hopeless, Annie (adorably clueless and big-voiced) is recruited by a mysterious syndicate trainer to become a bounty hunter and capture a South American drug lord (Brad Oscar, gleefully playing it up as a maniacal villain) along with her professional partner/eventual love interest (a strutting Alan H. Green).
Considering that Golden played the would-be killer “Squeaky” Fromme in the original Off-Broadway production of Sondheim’s “Assassins,” it could be argued that becoming a bounty hunter is a logistical extension of her stage career.
The show’s far-out premise is not so different from other wacky and scrappy Off-Broadway musical comedies such as “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Urinetown” and “Bat Boy” — even if it is not as accomplished or compelling as those former works.
The score demonstrates Iconis’ talent for adapting different styles of pop music while also keeping an eye on character and plot integration. That being said, it is unlikely to attract the kind of adolescent fan following and social media frenzy that led to the unlikely resurrection of “Be More Chill.” The book (despite some cute twists and turns and insider jokes) occasionally drags and takes on the feel of a slim, overstretched sketch.
Nevertheless, “Broadway Bounty Hunter” (briskly directed and choreographed by Jennifer Werner, an associate director of “The Book of Mormon”) makes for fresh and carefree summertime entertainment. It is the kind of show you would expect to find at a festival such as the Fringe or New York Musical Theatre Festival, yet performed and produced at a more professional level.