Posted in Theatre

Guys, CAGNEY is basically BOMBSHELL.

Some weeks ago, I reviewed the SMASH cast’s Bombshell recording. For those of you who weren’t Puccini’s Chronicles readers then- Bombshell was the fictional Marilyn Monroe musical depicted on the television show. It recently had a sold out, one-night-only concert performance featuring many Broadway stars at the Minskoff Theatre in NYC. Around that time, the York Theatre Company was well into its run of Cagney, a (real world) new musical about the life of- you guessed it- the beloved Hollywood gangster on film. It will play its final performance this Sunday. Having seen Cagney at the York (as an intern, I got a free ticket) and listened to the full score of Bombshell, I noticed a lot of weird parallels between the two. I thought I’d share them with you this evening.

  1. Both Bombshell and Cagney are autobiographical, “classic” musical dramedies that recount professional and personal highlights in the life of a big Old Hollywood actor.
  2. Both detail the central character’s life from humble beginnings (in the numbers “Let Me Be Your Star” and “Mean,” respectively) and feature actors portraying other figures of the day.
  3. Both stories explore the relationships Monroe and Cagney had with their mothers, although the former’s was tumultuous and the latter’s was close-knit.
  4. Each show has at least one “song-within-the-songs.” Bombshell has “I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn’t Love to Howl,” while Cagney has “Crazy ‘Bout You,” just to name a couple.
  5. Two words: LOVE DUETS. Bombshell‘s “History is Made at Night” is undeniably similar to Cagney‘s “Falling in Love.”
  6. Big parts of both musicals depict on-set antics that occurred while the central character was shooting a movie. I’ll cite Some Like It Hot and White Heat as examples of this.
  7. “Don’t Say Yes Until I Finish Talking” and “A Work of Genius” are basically the same song…and I happen to think both of them are one of the best numbers in their respective shows!
  8. Both have scenes in which Monroe and Cagney perform for the U.S. troops.
  9. “Never Give All the Heart” and “Some Other Guy” are both songs that occur early in the show and serve to flesh out the inner insecurities of the main character.
  10. Finally, and predictably, both Bombshell and Cagney have large 11 o’clock numbers for their stars. The former has “Don’t Forget Me” and the latter has “Tough Guy.”


"I am a seagull, I am an actress." -Anton Chekhov (And sometimes I like to write stuff, too.)

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