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James Cagney was one of the first and foremost gangsters of the silver screen. He started out in drag as a vaudeville entertainer. At the dawn of the Depression, he became a star for playing a bootlegger in The Public Enemy. Then, in a scene that shocked 1931 audiences, he walloped his girlfriend with a grapefruit. (Nowadays, audiences yawn at mutilation.)

As interesting as his movie career was, the real-life Cagney was a far more fascinating character. Cagney himself was a one-time doorman, bellhop, architect, librarian, and semi-professional baseball player — skilled at tap-dancing and street fighting — who somehow ended up with two Academy Awards. In fact, he’d make a great protagonist in a world-premier musical. And so: Cagney!, a new musical about an old film star, running Wednesdays through Sundays until May 3rd at the Florida Stage (262 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan). Tickets cost $45. For more info, call 561-585-3433, or visit
Wednesdays-Sundays. Starts: April 3. Continues through May 3, 2009

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