Highly Recommended **** I love Woody Allen! Not the man himself, but the wonderful work he has brought to the screen. One of my favorites, “Bullets Over Broadway”, a 1984 film that I have seen over and over and one that made a name for Chazz Palminteri, has been made into a Broadway Musical. Unlike other motion pictures made into plays, this is not a true musical, but a story with music. They have selected music of the times ( the “Roaring Twenties”) and surely music that fits the mind of the creator of the original story, Woody Allen, who wrote this script as well as the film, with Douglas McGrath. Directed to perfection by Susan Stroman who also does the exquisite choreography, this play might be called “Guys and Dolls” meets “42nd Street”!
For those of you who do not know the film, the story is about a young playwright, David Shayne (well-played by Michael Williams) who cannot get his new show produced. Through a producer, Julian Marx (deftly handled by Rick Grossman) he is able to find the funds, but from a gangster, Nick Valenti (smoothly played by Michael Corvino) who needs to have his “Doll”, Olive Neal (Jemma Jane in a stand-out performance) be a star. The mobster, Valenti, has one of his henchmen, Cheech (a masterful performance by Jeff Brooks that is as solid as Mr. Palminteri’s film portrayal, but with a great vocal range to boot), to watch over Olive for him.
What ensues during the rehearsal process is Cheech seeing errors in the play and story that need to be fixed. He offers suggestions to our writer ,and as time goes on David starts to make these changes, making the play better than expected. The problem is while the play gets better, Olive doesn’t. I dare not give anything away, but what we see in this two-hours-thirty-minutes of magical story-telling is many subplots that bring us through the trials and tribulations of each character and their changes due to the writing of Cheech and the reflection of every character.
This is a solid cast. Diva Helen Sinclair (the divine Emma Stratton), Ellen, David’s fiancée (Hannah Rose Deflumeri), Bradley Allan Zarr as Warner Purcell, Rachel Bahler as Eden and some great work by the ensemble. There are some great tap scenes and for some reason, in any dance show, a group of gangsters dancing up a storm are always a “show-stopper”. We were not let down with this show! The music in this show is existing music of the period. Songs like “Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do”, “I’m Sitting On Top Of The World”, “Runnin Wild”, “Let’s Misbehave” , “Up A Lazy River”, “She’s Funny That Way”. One of the numbers, “The Hot Dog Song” is another show-stopper. Imagine dancing hot dogs, with mustard dancing- hysterical number (Justin Jutras and his Four Franks- Jake Corcoran,Brian Martin, Joey Ortolani and Ian Saunders)!
If you are a fan of the film, you will find yourself loving the live version with music. “Bullets Over Broadway” will continue at the Private Bank Theatre ( for those confused by the change, this was the Shubert, then the LaSalle Bank, followed by The Bank of America Theatre and NOW the Private Bank Theatre, located at 18 West Monroe Street through May 1st with performances as follows:
Wednesdays 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Thursdays 7:30 p.m.
Fridays 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays 2 and 8 p.m.
Sundays 2 and 7:30 p.m.
No evening performance on May 1st
Tickets range in price from $19-$85 which makes for very affordable live theater. To purchase yours, visit any of the Broadway In Chicago box offices, call the Broadway In Chicago Ticketline at 1-800-775-2000 or visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Bullets Over Broadway”
To learn more about this company and its road trip, visit www.bulletsoverbroadway.com