BULLETS OVER BROADWAY
Music and Lyrics by Various Artists (Jazz and Popular Standards songbook: 1914-1930)
Music Adaptation and Additional Lyrics by Glen Kelly
Book by Woody Allen
Based on the Screenplay of the film Bullets Over Broadway by Woody Allen and Douglas McGrath
Dallas Summer Musicals
Original Direction and Choreography– Susan Stroman
Direction Recreated by Jeff Whiting
Music Director/Conductor—Robbie Cowan
Choreography Recreated by Clare Cook
Scenic Designer—Jason Ardizzone-West
Original Lighting Designer—Donald Holder
Tour Lighting Designer and Adaptation by Carolyn Wong
Sound Designer –Shannon Slaton
Costume Designer –William Ivey Long
Cheech– Jeff Brooks
Nick Valenti—Michael Corvino
The Atta-Girls–Mary Callahan, Elizabeth Dugas, Carissa Fiorello, Lainee Hunter, Corinne Munsch, Kaylee Olson, Lexie Plath
Olive Neal– Jemma Jane
Aldo– Brian Martin
David Shayne–Patrick Graver
Ellen– Hannah Rose Deflumeri
Sheldon Flender– Conor McGiffin
Bohemian Friends—Blaire Baker, Corinne Munsch, Ryan Kanfer
Julian Marx—Rick Grossman
Cotton Club Dancers—Carissa Fiorello, Kaylee Olson
Flappers—Elizabeth Dugas, Carissa Fiorello, Kaylee Olson
Gangsters—Jake Corcoran, Ryan Kanfer, Andrew Hendrick, Justin Jutras, Conor McGiffin, Brian Martin, Joey Ortolani, Ian Saunders
The Four Franks—Jake Corcoran, Brian Martin, Joey Ortolani, Ian Saunders
Helen Sinclair—Emma Stratton
Mitchel Sabine—Jake Corcoran
Walter Purcell—Bradley Allan Zarr
Eden Brent—Rachel Bahler
Understudies—Brian Martin, Lexie Plath
Hilda Marx—Blaire Baker
Train Conductor—Andrew Hendrick
The Red Caps—Mary Callahan, Elizabeth Dugas, Carissa Fiorello Lainee Hunter, Corinne Munsch, Kaylee Olson, Lexie Plath
Ensemble: Blaire Baker, Mary Callahan, Jake Corcoran, Elizabeth Dugas, Carissa Fiorello, Andrew Hendrick, Lainee Hunter, Justin Jutras, Ryan Kanfer, Brian Martin, Conor McGiffin, Corinne Munsch, Kaylee Olson, Joey Ortolani, Lexie Plath, Ian Saunders
Reviewed Performance: 6/19/2016
Reviewed by Genevieve Croft , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Based on the 1994 Woody Allen crime-comedy film, Bullets Over Broadway is the story of would-be playwright David Shayne, in 1928 New York City. Having just arrived on Broadway, Shayne hopes to gain financing for his newest play-and agrees to hire Olive Neal (the actress/girlfriend) of a gangster, who (surprise) agrees to give Shayne the financial support he needs, contingent upon using his girlfriend in the show. Enter Cheech, Neal’s rough and tough gangster escort who turns out to be a theatrical genius-coming up with excellent ideas for revising the play. Of course, anything can happen in musical comedy and Bullets Over Broadway is no different. Tap dancing gangsters, tongue-in-cheek dialogue, and a fabulous songbook with jazz and popular standards from the Great American songbook of the 1920’s and 1930’s tie the story together.
Bullets Over Broadway was nominated for seven Academy Awards. In keeping with the current trend of Broadway musicals based on non-musical films (think Kinky Boots and Elf), the creative team began planning of the musical version begin in the year 2000 with Woody Allen, Douglas McGrath, and Marvin Hamlisch on board. Fourteen years later, the production opened on Broadway-starring Zach Braff (Dr. John Dorian from the hit NBC comedy, Scrubs) as David Shayne. Bullets Over Broadway had quite an interesting backstory. Now, on to the review…
Originally directed (and choreographed) for Broadway by veteran Susan Stroman, the Direction for this National Tour was recreated by Jeff Whiting. Whiting brought together an ensemble cast which worked well together, and collaborated with a crew who clearly took their jobs seriously and knit together scenery, lighting and costumes that enhanced the story being told by these eccentric and goofy characters. The overall vision and concept was very impressive.
Scenic Designer Jason Ardizzone-West successfully transformed the grand proscenium stage into multiple locations. In a story with so many locations, each one was designed and conveyed with precision for detail. There were quite a bit of scenic changes to accommodate the multiple locations required within the story. I thought that these transitions were executed quite marvelously. The transitions were seamless. I was impressed with Mr. Ardizzone-West’s attention to detail in each location-especially the integration of a moving train car, where the action was continuous and the fantastic suggestion of a moving 1920’s Gangster car underneath the bridge at the Gowanus Canal in New York City. This attention to detail was one of those things that would not have been missed had it not been there but added an element of legitimacy to the set These scenic elements reminded me of a wacky 1920’s comedy, where the action is consistently moving. It is apparent to me that a lot of time, care, and attention to detail was incorporated from the scenic designer. The sets very much had the feeling and atmosphere of being at a theatre on Broadway-in the comfort of The Music Hall at Fair Park.
Lighting was designed and adapted for this National Tour by Carolyn Wong, and was based on the original Broadway lighting design by Donald Holder. Wong executed a fantastic job plotting lighting that was appropriate for each scene and mood. Like the scenic design, the lighting also provided consistent action. As a passionate theatrical spectator, I absolutely love it when the technical elements collaborate with each other, and fit together like a puzzle. It really brings an essence of magic to the performance. This time, lighting was no different. The quick and seamless transitions kept the pace moving, and the energy up.
William Ivey Long designed costumes that were not only period appropriate but had a fine attention to detail. Costumes are another important design element. As the scenic design and lighting sets the time, place and atmosphere of the story, the costumes build upon that and displays the personalities of each character. Each lead and each member of the ensemble donned a unique costume- that was very indicative of 1920’s fashion. The costumes were colorful, and embodied everything that I would expect to see on stage from the time period. I enjoyed seeing the women of the cast in some fabulous fashion from the late 1920’s-from the sequined nightclub outfits of “The Atta Girls” to the Gloria Swanson style wardrobe of actress Helen Sinclair, there was always something appealing to see in the element of costume design.
Portraying the role of Cheech, the gambling gangster who is demoted from taking his victims to the harbor to bump off to becoming Olive’s babysitter is Jeff Brooks. It goes without saying that Brooks is blessed to have the best choreographed and executed musical number of the entire evening. Leading a group of tap dancing gangsters in the song “Taint Nobody’s business If I Do”, he floats and creates sparks on the stage with his finesse tap dancing and dazzling energy in the number. It is easily the show stopping number of the entire production thanks to Brooks and his brotherhood of gangsters. Vocally he also possesses the best male vocals of the entire company, a booming, robust tenor voice. His comedic timing, pace, and delivery is like a tommy gun firing off, never missing its target. A tall, handsome actor who has stage presence that is so bright, no spotlight is needed. His performance is so unique and special; that you wished the book and score gave him more musical numbers and scenes. Mr. Brooks not only steals every scene he is in, in fact he steals the show!
Jemma Jane was incredibly believable in the role of aspiring actress, Olive Neal. Through facial expression, body language, comic timing and humorous delivery, Jane convincingly portrayed mobster Nick Valenti’s girlfriend-aspiring actress with very little acting and dancing abilities. Ms. Jane’s enthusiasm and comedic delivery on stage was nearly constant, having over-the-top and humorous interaction with Shayne and Valenti (portrayed incredibly by Patrick Graver and Michael Corvino) and lovely on stage relationships with “bodyguard” Cheech (convincingly played by Jeff Brooks). Jane never faltered in her delivery, and all interactions with other cast members were believable and spot on.
Walter Purcell was played by Bradley Allan Zarr. Zarr was very convincing through his facial expressions and body language. Mr. Zarr was full of energy, and provided the audience with even more of an opportunity to laugh. Not only did Mr. Zarr deliver with his spectacular vocal comedic timing, but, he also played quite a bit of physical comedy as well-Purcell’s character was known for being very fond of food-and as they production went on, he seemingly entered with more weight-providing some interesting moments as he would ‘get stuck in a chair,’ or attempt to do some of the 1920’s dances with a larger build. It is apparent that Mr. Zarr studied some classic physical comedy of the 1920’s and 30’s, and was able to portray this facet of his character’s personality with genuine comedy, and excellent timing.
This production of Bullets Over Broadway is definitely worth seeing. The attention to detail evident in all aspects of this production makes for a satisfying experience. From the moment the overture begins, and the audience is drawn into the world of gangsters and tommy guns and a world of flappers and chorus girls- you will be hooked and you are guaranteed to laugh. Whether you are a fan of zany Broadway musical comedies a la the 1920’s or you are a fan of the genius Woody Allen- Bullets Over Broadway will leave you will a fun and light theatrical experience. I caution you, however the content may not be appropriate for younger theatre-goers there is overt sexual innuendo and suggestion of violence. Bullets Over Broadway is the newest Broadway smash-it’s murder, mayhem and music!
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY
Dallas Summer Musicals at the Music Hall
909 1ST AVE., Dallas, TX 75210
Plays through June 26.
Tuesday June 21 at 7:30pm / Tuesday, June 21 at 7:30pm / Wednesday, June 22 at 7:30pm
Thursday, June 23 at 1:30pm and 7:30pm / Friday, June 24 at 7:30pm
Saturday, June 25 at 1:30pm and 7:30pm / Sunday, June 26 at 1:30 pm
Ticket prices range from $17.00 to $99.00, depending on day and seating.
For information and to purchase tickets, go to www.DallasSummerMusicals.org by phone at 1.800.514.ETIX (3849), and at The Box Office, 5959 Royal Lane, Suite 542, in Dallas, Texas.
Groups of 10 or more receive a 15% discount, priority seating, and many more benefits. Please call 214.426.GROUP (4768) or email Groups@DallasSummerMusicals.org.