The AndyGram

Saturday, Jun 03rd

You are here: Home Theatre Reviews & Features 2013-14 Reviews Broadway Broadway Review: BULLETS OVER BROADWAY
Saturday, 17 May 2014 13:17


Written by

Bullets Over Broadway has everything, well almost everything, going for it. It has a score of timeless, and I mean timeless, songs. The opening number, "Tiger Rag" dates to 1917. Chances are, you will have heard most of the songs (depending on how old you are.) You will recognize "Ain't Nobody's Business," "Up a Lazy River," and "I've Found a New Baby," to name just a few. Many of them have had some creative license taken with the lyrics to make them fit into the script by Woody Allen.

Bullets… has snappy, regimented choreography by director/choreographer Susan Stroman. She and Allen have teamed up to make Allen's 1994 movie about a mobster who gets his girlfriend into a Broadway musical by backing the show, a quick-paced and rollicking musical comedy.

Costume designer, William Ivey Long has surpassed himself with stunning costumes, particularly the colorful flapper girl's handkerchief dresses. Santo Loquasto has designed light-weight sets that come and go quickly, enhancing Stroman's direction. In one scene she uses a turning carousel of individual sleeper car births that rotate, quickly moving the scene from car berth to car berth to view each compartment's shenanigans.

Unfortunately, Bullets… also has an exaggerated and mostly charmless performance from Zach Braff. He portrays the nebbish screen-writer, David, as though he had been studying Allen during rehearsals and decided that's who he would base the role on. His singing voice is also serviceable but not up to the standard of a Broadway leading man.

Bullets… also happens to have Heléne York as Olive Neal, the talentless girlfriend of the producing mobster. Her Olive is portrayed as a hopped-up Cyndi Lauper. By the end of the show you just want her to shut up.

On the plus side again, Nick Cordero is Cheech, the goon assigned to keep an eye on Olive and who ultimately rewrites the better part of the show, in secret, for David. He and the gangsters bring the show to a halt with the tap number "Tain't Nobidy's Biz-ness If I Do." Marin Mazzie sparkles as Helen Sinclair, the leading lady who falls for David (and mutters that famous line "don't speak, don't speak") and as David's girlfriend, Ellen, Betsy Wolfe is charming.  Broadway sweetheart, Karen Ziemba is somewhat matronly in this role, but she does have a good time with her canine co-star.

Unfortunately, many of the numbers in the production feel like they were forced into the show with a shoe-horn. None so much as "Yes, We Have No Bananas" which closes the show. The number makes no sense, even worse, it's sung by the man who backs the show, the mobster Nick Valenti, played by Vincent Pastore. Aside from singing this ill-advised number, Pastore gives a wooden performance.

The show has an odd quirk to it, the paucity of actors of color in the cast. This seems somewhat contrary to the genesis of many of the songs in this musical. Many of them were written by, and performed by, African-Americans at the beginning of the 20th century, not here.

The musical has just about everything going for it. Had they gone with a more charming leading man who had a better voice, a less grating Olive, and cut a couple of musical numbers, the show might have truly been a home run.

Additional Info

  • Theatre: St. James Theatre
  • Theatre Address: 246 W 44th St New York, NY 10036
  • Show Style: Musical
  • Previews:: March 11, 2014
  • Opening Night: April 10, 2014
  • Closing: Open Ended
Last modified on Thursday, 09 July 2015 04:57
More in this category: « Broadway Review: LES MISÉRABLES