Tony-nominated Be More Chill composer Joe Iconis first met Annie Golden when he was a graduate student in NYU’s musical theatre writing program. Golden, already an established actor of both the stage and screen, agreed to perform in the then-unknown composer’s thesis project because he’d sent her a song sample that he hoped would pique her interest. It did, and then some.
This summer, the longtime friends and collaborators re-unite for the Off-Broadway premiere of Iconis’ musical Broadway Bounty Hunter, now at the Greenwich House Theater following a sold-out run at Barrington Stage Company in 2016. Though since re-imagined, one thing remains unchanged: Golden is back to star in the role that Iconis—along with co-bookwriters Lance Rubin and Jason SweetTooth Williams—wrote especially for her. Named Annie, Golden’s character is a down-on-her-luck actor who becomes a larger-than-life, karate-kicking bounty hunter tasked with hunting down a dangerous drug lord.
“Having a part written for you is a sacred trust and a gift,” says Golden, who feels right at home with Iconis, Rubin, and Williams and director Jennifer Werner. “[Their way of working is] enthusiastic and it’s familial and that’s the way we roll. And they found me,” says the actor. “I came up with Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, and I got lucky again with Joe Iconis. I guess I’m having a third act.”
Broadway Bounty Hunter—with its R&B, funk, and soul score (the film is inspired by the Blaxploitation film genre) combined with pop-rock sounds (think ’70s action movies like Rocky) and traditional musical theatre numbers—is familiar ground for Golden. Since Hair director Milos Forman discovered her fronting a rock band in the East Village 40 years ago, the singing performer has clung to her downtown roots throughout it all—opting for roles in both plays and musicals on Broadway, booking hit television shows like Orange Is the New Black, and continuing to rock out with her band at Joe’s Pub and The Cutting Room.
The nature of her career has always appealed to Iconis, partly because it’s also reflected in his own work. “I think that the uptown-downtown push and pull exists in all of my writing,” says the composer. As his Be More Chill wraps up performances on Broadway this month, the composer looks forward to shifting gears and seeing what the West Village—and Annie Golden—have to offer.