We received a pair of tickets for opening night of “Bullets Over Broadway” in Seattle. However, our thoughts are our own.
“Bullets Over Broadway” is the six-time Tony-nominated musical adaptation of the 1994 film of the same name. The new musical is written by Woody Allen, based on the original screenplay from the movie, written by Allen and Douglas McGrath (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical).
The story follows a young playwright, David Shayne, as he struggles to get his new play produced. Shayne is crestfallen when he finds none of his regular producers will stage his show, luckily a late night phone call from Julian Marx brings some good news! Marx agrees to produce the show with the financial backing of mob boss Nick Valenti but at the cost of putting Valenti’s no-talent girlfriend Olive Neal in a leading role of the play. Through various affairs, back-stabbings, and mishaps, eventually Shayne’s play finally comes to fruition, but in a form not even he recognizes!
This show was interesting in that it’s actually kind of a jukebox musical, a la “Jersey Boys” or “Rock of Ages“, except that the music is all from the age of jazz in the 1920s-1930s, so most of it was unknown to us. Even so, the music was wonderful and performed admirably by the orchestra and cast. I particularly liked “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You“, a classic jazz standard, here performed by Michael Corvino as Nick Valenti.
There were two members of the cast who I especially enjoyed, those being Jemma Jane and Emma Stratton. Jane plays the loud-mouthed chorus-girl and aspiring actress Olive Neal whose over the top antics and hilariously affected voice brought a smile to my face, as well as everyone in the audience. Stratton plays the beautifully poised but aging star, Helen Sinclair. She brings to the role a lilting, singsong voice at the end of many of her dramatic lines which fit her overly-dramatic character perfectly, playing well into the trope of the wilting starlet.
Being a Woody Allen script, “Bullets Over Broadway“, is of course, full of hilarious bits. This show hearkens back to his absurdist/fantasy films like “Everything you Always Wanted to Know About Sex*” and “Annie Hall“, at times even breaking the fourth wall to great effect as was also done in some of his previous works. As an Allen book, expect lots of sexual innuendoes and humor poking fun at religion.
Possibly my favorite parts of the production were the choreography and costumes. The dances were high energy and extremely well coordinated, particularly a large tap number involving the whole Valenti gang during, “Tain’t Nobody’s Bizness If I Do“, which ended with at least a full minute of applause and whistles from the crowd. The costumes all appeared to be very period authentic, and the dresses were bright and bouncy, bringing beautiful splashes of color to the neutrally colored set.
We enjoyed our time at “Bullets Over Broadway” and encourage you to check it out during it’s very limited engagement here in Seattle!