Billy the Kid was just a scruffy juvenile delinquent trying to find his way through life. To help him succeed his parents gave young Billy a Colt .45 for his birthday, instructing him to point and shoot and kill a rabbit. Kill or be killed. Rule number one for survival.
Rule number two. Steal to stay warm. Billy (Corey Boardman) robs a coat landing him in jail where he meets Pat Garrett (an imposing David Murgittroyd) who comes up with a “plan” to escape. They become buddies. And meet up with Chavez (Justin Gregory Lopez) Charlie (Antonio Addeo) Tom (Travis McClung) and love interest Celsa (Isabel Santiago) forming a gang that is on the run.
The rest is fictionalized history with a pop/rock spin in the new musical “Outlaws: The Ballad of Billy the Kid” now running at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre as part of NYMF written by Perry Liu, Alastair William King and Joe Calarco which literally starts off with a bang, the death of Billy at age 21 and the recurring song “That’s What They Said” which might be truth and might be legend.
They are rock stars of the sagebrush on the loose. Stomping and wailing to a pretty good score with nice specific lyrics, fists in the air and venting all the pent up anger that is ready to explode they sing their way to California where they believe they will finally belong and be safe and where they can do whatever they want. Just doesn’t work out that way after Billy points and shoots and kills someone.
Jenn Rapp stages this rock show like a game of hide-and-go-seek spicing the action up with some sexy dance routines. But the book often falters. It’s too consolidated and doesn’t allow the characters to breathe enough between songs. Having the actors double also causes some believability problems.
Corey Boardman is the perfect Billy. Wired and angry and sexy and longing for a better life he is pulled in all directions becoming a “celebrity” in the process. His duet with Celsa “A Place in the Sun” is a lovely respite from the otherwise heavy rock score.
Travis McClung does an excellent job mining the humor from his naïve, wanna-be-tough gang member. His recollection of his first time with a prostitute is over much too quickly and he brings true feeling to his role.
“Outlaws” has some of the best gun shot sound effects and harmonica playing that adds great authenticity to the production that is told in flashback with heart pounding, frenzied songs that are sometimes beyond the range of those singing them in true rock idol fashion.
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