Bronco Billy The Musical review (Charing Cross Theatre)
Bronco Billy The Musical delights with its farcical story, standout performances, and innovative staging in its adaptation of Clint Eastwood’s film.
Bronco Billy is an adaptation of Clint Eastwood’s 1980 film of the same name. The plot revolves around a chance encounter between Bronco Billy, the frontman of a travelling Wild West circus, and Antoinette Lily, an heiress on the run from her ex-husband and stepmother, and the hitman they’ve hired to kill her.
The storyline is over-the-top ridiculous, bordering on a farce at times, but Hunter Bird’s direction leans into it, tongue firmly in its cheek. And it’s supported by a stand-out cast.
Tarinn Callender commands the stage as Bronco Billy with a charisma-packed performance. Emily Benjamin is brilliant as Antoinette, providing laughs and tender moments in equal measure.
Victoria Hamilton-Barritt proves a scene stealer as Constance, Antoinette’s stepmother. Verging on a panto-villain, her character gets by far the best reaction from the audience with a series of incredibly camp songs.
Serious props must also be given to the talented ensemble who find themselves variously having to juggle, lasso, walk on stilts, and get involved in various slapstick fights throughout the over-the-top, cross-country caper.
Another star of the show has to be Amy Jane Cook’s scenic design, which features a rotating bus that doubles as everything from a hotel room to a prison. Considering the size of the Charing Cross Theatre, it’s truly impressive.
Chip Rosenbloom and John Torres provide the show with a disco-enthused pop-rock score, which includes some catchy comedic numbers and heartfelt ballads. While not completely sung through, there’s liberal use of ‘speak singing’ and reprises, something I personally love in musical theatre but may not be to everyone’s tastes.
My only ever-so-slight criticism of the show – and this is something so many movie musical adaptations seem to have a problem with – is the pacing. It could do with some trimming and tightening up, especially in the first act.
Overall, Bronco Billy The Musical delights with its farcical story and over-the-top humour combined with a charismatic cast and inventive staging – it’s a wild ride you won’t want to miss!
Book tickets from £16
At the Charing Cross Theatre currently booking to 7 April 2024