Robert Creighton is a Tough Guy in Tap Shoes in "Cagney"
Steve Adubato goes one-on-one with "CAGNEY, The Musical" co-creator and star, Robert Creighton, about being Hollywood's tough guy in tap shoes.
"I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy, a Yankee Doodle, do or die. A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam... Hup! Born on the Fourth of July. I've got a Yankee Doodle sweetheart, she's my Yankee Doodle joy. Yankee Doodle came to London just to ride the ponies. I am the Yankee Doodle Boy! Made it ma! Top of the world! That is awesome! [laughter] And we have him here. Robert Creighton. Yes sir. Who is the co-creator and star of Cagney, at the Westside Theatre at 407 West 43rd Street... What's the matter? You're not in good shape? [laughter] Ah! [laughter] Eight times a week, right there. So it's a lot of fun. But it is. It's gotten me in good shape. Which has been fun. Give us a story about this play, and your connection to it. I... we were just talking about it. I moved here from Canada many years ago, to go to acting school. And early on, a teacher said to me, "You remind me of Jimmy Cagney. You kinda have his energy, you're built like him, and I know you like to tap dance on the side." It was a straight acting school. American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Right. And I started watching his films. I didn't... I was a Fred Astaire guy growing up. A Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly guy. And I started watching Cagney films, and I pretty instantly... I was like... felt a connection there. Wow, I do kinda look like him a bit. But when you're studying as an actor, you're working on your craft all the time, and he was so ahead of his time, I thought, as an actor. Just never a false word out of his mouth. Mag... I was just... What do you mean by that? Never a false word? He believed everything he said. Some ac... in those old movies, when they're stylized, sometimes, you know, it looked put on. Absolutely. You always believed him. No matter what character, or how broad it was, or how tough he was, or how funny, you know, quirky he was being, you always believed it. It was always rooted, which is what good acting is. You don't... you don't see the work. You know, it's just, he's that guy. And so I was totally drawn to him on film. He was magnetic. That's the word I was looking for. Magnetic on film. And then I started reading about his life, and who he was as a person, and his humanitarian... how, you know, he just went through life sticking up for the little guy, believed in justice, didn't like bullies. Hmm. And I started... I had a little interaction when they were trying... his estate was trying to put a show together, this is one year out of acting school..."