Bronco Billy The Musical at Charing Cross Theatre. Photo by The Other Richard

Bronco Billy Reviews Round-up

A reviews round-up from London theatre critics for Bronco Billy The Musical at Charing Cross Theatre in London.

Bronco Billy is a musical about love, reinvention, family and living your dreams, set in 1979 and centred on a travelling troupe of romantic, fast-drawing, trick-riding, disco-dancing Wild West roustabouts led by Bronco Billy, who meets on-the-run Manhattan heiress Antoinette Lilly.

The new musical stars Emily Benjamin (Cabaret, Bat Our of Hell) in the lead role of Antoinette, with Tarinn Callender (The Drifters Girl, Come from Away, Hamilton) as ‘Bronco Billy’, and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt (The Odyssey, Hex, Cinderella) as ‘Constance’.

The show also stars Gemma Atkins (Mamma Mia!, Wicked) as ‘Dee Dee’, Jonathan Bourne (Nativity! The Musical, The 39 Steps) as ‘Sam’, Josh Butler as ‘Lasso Leonard’, Alice Croft (The Commitments, But I’m a Cheerleader) as ‘Mitzi’, Chris Jared (Amelie) as ‘Lipton’, Karen Mavundukure (Tarantino Live, The Color Purple) as ‘Doc’, Henry Maynard (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) as ‘Lefty’, Alexander McMorran (Heathers, Come from Away) as ‘Sinclair’, Aharon Rayner (Miss Saigon, Great British Bake Off the Musical) as ‘Joe Eagle’, Helen K Wint (Oklahoma) as ‘Lorraine’ and Silas Wyatt-Barke (Saving Grace, The Prince of Egypt) as ‘John Arlington’. Swings include Kalisha Amaris (Sister Act) and David Muscat (The Many Deaths of Michael Malloy).

Bronco Billy has a book by Dennis Hackin, who also wrote the screenplay of the hit Clint Eastwood movie that the show is based on, along with music and lyrics by Chip Rosenbloom and John Torres, and additional lyrics by Michele Brourman.

The show is directed by Hunter Bird, with a creative team that also includes Amy Jane Cook for scenic design, Sarah Mercade for costume design, Alexzandra Sarmiento as choreographer, Nick Richings as lighting designer, Andrew Johnson as sound designer, Marcus Carter-Adams as Musical Director, John Bulleid as illusion designer, Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown of RC-Annie Ltd as fight and intimacy directors, Amber Sinclair-Case as associate director, David O as orchestrator and music supervisor, Danny Hackin as associate producer, and Will Burton for casting.

Bronco Billy is playing at the Charing Cross Theatre to 7 April 2024.

Blogger and influencer reviews for Bronco Billy include Theatre & Tonic ★★★★ ” Jam packed with humour and a sprinkling of silliness while driving home the importance of love”; Lost in Theatreland ★★★ “A fun, camp, old-fashioned, and overall entertaining musical”; Lou Reviews “With a small tweak or two, this UK premiere will bring out the cowboy/cowgirl in us all”; and Theatre Cat ★★★ “The story is exuberantly cartoonish : don’t go looking for subtle feelings”.

Read reviews, below, from TimeOut, The Stage and more, with further reviews to be added.

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Bronco Billy The Musical reviews


"Joyous, madcap musical reinvention of the cult Clint Eastwood film"

"What’s that you say? You want a show about cowboys that’s also a soap opera, which also involves disco? And you want it to be one of the year’s best new musicals? Well, slap my thigh and roll up to ‘Bronco Billy’."

"Director Hunter Bird takes the late-’70s setting and runs with it, casting its madcap caper vibe in bright colours and every orange of beige. It’s a beautifully pitched, disco-ball reflection of an era of TV and film, complete with great practical effects and some genre-bending choreography, which feels new and unique"

"... Victoria Hamilton-Barrett, as stepmother Constance Lily, wearing the kind of wig that deserves its own spin-off series and an Emmy award. Somehow channelling Liza Minelli by way of all the best Joans – Cusack’s psychopathic black widow in ‘The Addams Family Values’ and Collins’s Alexis Carrington in Dynasty – she tears through scenes like a deliriously fun tornado. She imbues every song with charisma to spare."

"Charing Cross Theatre has a hit on its hands."

Tom Wicker, TimeOut
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The Stage

"Uplifting, screwball comedy"

"Charming adaptation hamstrung by an overcomplicated staging"

"Hackin’s adaptation veers remarkably from the movie, incorporating a bid for national fame with a television audition and a far more convoluted comedy murder plot."

"Packed with offbeat characters and focusing on the rocky romance between Billy and Antoinette, Hackin’s script is an uplifting, screwball comedy that is as charming as it is witty. Chip Rosenbloom and John Torres’ songs, with additional lyrics from Michele Brourman, are a mixed bag, however."

"There is also little genuine chemistry between its leading man Tarinn Callender, lending a meaty baritone to Billy, and Emily Benjamin’s self-assured Antoinette. ... At the other end of the scale, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt is hilariously on point as wicked stepmother Constance. "

Paul Vale, The Stage
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The Guardian

"Clint Eastwood inspires misfiring caper"

"Hunter Bird’s often madcap production, based on the 1980 western, has anodyne songs and lacks the film’s weathered perspective"

"This flimsier musical version, with a book by original screenwriter Dennis Hacklin, isn’t short on star quality: the magnetic Tarinn Callender is Billy, his megawatt smile matched by Emily Benjamin’s as heiress Antoinette, while Victoria Hamilton-Barritt wrings delightful detail from the expanded role of Antoinette’s stepmother. All three are brilliantly talented singers – if only they had songs that went beyond these perfectly pleasant, often anodyne numbers about living your dreams by Chip Rosenbloom, John Torres and Michele Brourman."

"Hunter Bird’s restlessly exuberant production has fired the confetti cannon within minutes and Amy Jane Cook’s revolve set design spins regularly from circus truck to jail to apartment."

"What’s missing most is a real sense of the troupe’s wear and tear – not just their hard-scrabble past but that of the wild west itself."

Chris Wiegand, The Guardian
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The Times

"Hootin’ tootin’ musical has no soul"

"The top of the stage for Bronco Billy is bordered by five stars but I’m afraid this cowboy-inspired musical, based on Clint Eastwood’s film of the same name, is way off climbing to those sparkling heights. Yes, it’s good fun and it’s definitely silly. But spoilt by too many clichés, this is all hootin’ tootin’ with not enough thunder or feeling."

"Hamilton’s Tarinn Callender is unquestionably the lead as Billy: proud, with a voice as rich as silk, he demands attention. But it is Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, putting enormous amounts of bitterness into her gloriously croaky performance as Constance, who extracts this script’s humour. Among a sea of well-rehearsed perfection, she is one of the few who seem truly in the moment. And perhaps that’s the problem: the show, directed by Hunter Bird, is all a bit too neat."

Anya Ryan, The Times
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📷 Main photo: Bronco Billy The Musical at Charing Cross Theatre. Photo by The Other Richard

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