Chip Rosenbloom’s Musical Take on “Bronco Billy” Helps Recast the 80s Original in a Highly Relatable Adaptation
First, the plot: An heiress named Antoinette Lilly is on the run from her stepmother, her greedy husband, an evil attorney, and a hitman. If she can stay alive for thirty days, she will inherit her deceased father’s fortune and the candy business that made him rich. The only way to succeed is to lay low, and she finds refuge with ex-con sharpshooter Bronco Billy and the ragtag members of his struggling Wild West show.
Hailed as an infectious crowd-pleaser and possibly the most tuneful and entertaining L.A.-cast musical in over a decade, the recently renewed Bronco Billy was loosely based on the screenplay of the 1980 Clint Eastwood feature film. While the musical retains the hopes and aspirations of the film, comedy reigns supreme here, with the main cast and supporting players throwing in daring feats, rowdy comedy, good old-fashioned fun, and a big dose of disco fever into the two-hour run time.
The score was a successful team effort. It was written by Chip Rosenbloom along with co-writer John Torres. Esteemed composer Michelle Brourman contributed lyrics to two songs as well. The songs were recorded by several artists, including Sheena Easton, and Dayna Lane. Mr. Rosenbloom’s work has twice been on the shortlist for an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song (for “Saving Shiloh” and “Fame High”) and filled this musical with songs that were not only catchy but know when and how to reprise. “Ride With Us,” “It’s Gonna Be Great,” and “I’m Gonna Be Strong” were particularly memorable.
The musical was performed at the Skylight Theatre Company (STC), a renowned name in the LA theatre scene. For thirty years, the theater has become known for developing original plays and new playwrights, and this musical marks its first musical production.
The idea behind the project was to create a fresh take on the original film, and things came together nicely since the STC always wanted to develop musicals, and Bronco Billy – The Musical presented them with the perfect opportunity to do just that. Chip Rosenbloom, John Torres, and Dennis Hackin, who wrote the 1980 film, approached STC about their idea for a redo of a well-received classic, and the STC team jumped at the opportunity.
The musical was directed by Hunter Bird, with Anthony Lucca as musical director. David Oh was the orchestrator, and Janet Roston was in charge of choreography. The cast includes Eric B. Anthony as “Bronco Billy” and Amanda Leigh Jerry as “Antoinette.” Other cast members include Michelle Azar, Benai Alicia Boyd, Marc Cardiff, Randy Charleville, Fatima El-Bashir, Kyle Frattini, Bella Hicks, Chris M. Kauffmann, Anthony Marciona, Jamie Mills, Pat Towne, and Michael Uribes.
Set in 1979, the musical’s themes are as relevant today as they were 40 years ago. Political turmoil, civil movements, and the idea of the “American Dream” are put in high relief against the backdrop of Antoinette, her budding romance with Billy, and the seemingly hopeless members of his troupe. The message is clear, however, that instead of accepting what life throws our way, we can always recreate our own realities, families, and identities.
Despite all its romance, comedy, rambunctious danger, and close calls with disaster, the musical never loses sight of its humanity, a theme eloquently summed up by Billy when he says, “Just because a man’s been dealt a bad hand doesn’t mean he should be out of the game.”
Mr. Rosenbloom’s musical gifts help bring these themes to life, without distracting from the fact that the musical is meant to be a highly entertaining and comedic affair. The new angle adopted by Mr. Rosenbloom and company make the musical a lot more enjoyable than the original film, and it is truly energized by the splendid music, singing, and dancing that makes up a substantial part of the play’s run-time. There are twenty-eight musical numbers throughout the musical and they cross a range of styles, all of which are performed with the jaunty style of Anthony Lucca and his team. They bring Mr. Rosenbloom’s music and lyrics—and the entire musical—to life.
About Chip Rosenbloom
Chip Rosenbloom is a composer, songwriter, and filmmaker. He not only makes memorable and outstanding music but award-winning films and documentaries as well. His music has been featured in over a dozen movies and TV shows and he was twice shortlisted for an Oscar. Bronco Billy – The Musical is his first musical production.
Chip Rosenbloom graduated from the University of Southern California Film School (which has now become the USC School of Cinematic Arts) and began his independent filmmaker career in 1990. He produced the critically acclaimed Shiloh in 1996 as well as over thirty other films and documentaries, including Reckless Indifference, the true story of a teenage fight gone wrong, and the sentencing injustices that followed. The documentary won the International Press Academy Award and is taught in several law schools.