Don’t Speak! Be Silent! Just listen! Bullets Over Broadway is a blast and and you’ll go bananas over the high-kicking and toe-tappin’ choreography of Tony winner Director/Choreographer Susan Stroman, the hilarious one-liners of Woody Allen, the stunning costumes by William Ivey Long, the clever scenic design by Santo Loquasto, the beautiful lighting by Donald Holder, Peter Hylenski’s sound design, Paul Huntley’s wig and hair design, and Doug Besterman’s lovely orchestrations. And there are two adorable dogs that steal some of the limelight (trained by William Berloni) who will make your heart melt.
Written by Oscar winner Woody Allen, Bullets Over Broadway is based on his 1994 film’s screenplay by Allen and Douglas McGrath, and in the stunningly beautiful St. James Theatre it evokes great musicals of the past – like Guys and Dolls and another mega-hit that won a Tony for Susan Stroman-The Producers. It’s filled with songs of the 1920s that we all know, and some that we we never heard of — that all help tell the story of these zany characters. They include “Let’s Misbehave,” “Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do,” “Up the Lazy River,” and “There’s a New Day Comin’!”
Playwright David Shayne (Zach Braff) is forced to cast a mobster’s (Vincent Pastore) extremely untalented girlfriend Olive (Heléne Yorke) in his new show God of Our Fathers-or else! He gets some help in ‘editing’ his play from an unlikely source (Nick Cordero) and chaos ensues-and a successful play is born!
And what a ‘who’s who’ of of Broadway stars and veterans Ms. Strohman has in her talented cast-it’s musical comedy heaven!
Zach Braff is adorable and nebbishy as the not-so-talented playwright David Shayne -and he can sing and dance! His bubbly rendition of “I’m Sitting on Top of the World” is joyfully delivered. Nick Cordero is hilarious as Cheech, the closeted play consultant. He commands every scene he is in and he delivers all his funny lines like a dart that hits the bullseye every time. Handsome and suave, his performance is a killer, and he delivers ‘Up a Lazy River” and ‘Tain’t Nobody’s Business” with lots of emotion. Vincent Pastore is perfection as the Godfather-ish boyfriend who ain’t so stupid. Leonard Wolpe delivers a wonderful duet with Marin Mazzie (Helen Sinclair): “They Go Wild, Simply Wild Over Me.”
And for one her great entrance the amazing. stunning, vocally astounding cougar Helen Sinclair played with great diva-ness by the divine Marin Mazzie. It’s a performance for the ages and William Ivey Long has dressed her in one eye-popping creation after another. And oh that glorious voice as she sings “There’s a Broken Heart for Every Light on Broadway” and “I Ain’t Gonna Play No Second Fiddle”-both with Braff. Wish she had a solo or two more.
Add in Betsy Wolfe as Ellen, Shayne’s girlfriend, and the great singing continues, as she performs “Blues My Naughtie Sweetie Gives to Me” and the hysterical “I’ve Found A New Baby,” both with Braff. Tony Winner Karen Ziemba shows what a great hoofer and singer she is as Eden Brent and dances up a storm in “There’s A New Day Comin'” -which opens the second act with a bang! She and her adorable Pomeranian co-stars Trixie and Rocco light up the stage and unleash a lot of love and humor whenever they appear in the show.
Heléne Yorke is the perfect talentless Olive, whose acting skills are the pits. Watching Olive butcher her lines is a delight and Yorke’s tough-as-nails performance brings a lot of laughs when she is delivering some of the funniest lines Woody Allen has written for the show. I relished her rendition of the hysterical hot dog and the audience ate it up. And Brooks Ashmanskas, as Warner Purcell, delivers a high-carb performance and sings and dances buoyantly with Yorke in “Let’s Misbehave.’
Kudos to the fabulous ensemble of dancers and singers, and other members of the fabulous cast: Clyde Alves, Jim Borstelmann, Preston Truman Boyd, Janet Dickinson, Bryn Dowling, Paige Faure, Casey Garvin, Kelcy Griffin, Dan Horn, Sarah Lin Johnson, Andy Jones, Amanda Kloots-Larsen, Kevin Ligon, Synthia Link, Brittany Marcin, Paul McGill, James Moye, Beth Johnson Nicely, Eric Santagata, and Kevin Worley. And a special nod to the fabulous orchestra conducted by Andy Einhorn.
Bullets Over Broadway is an old-fashioned musical with a laugh-a-minute book, terrific performances, great music from the American Songbook, and filled with gorgeous design. Broadway’s been waiting for a show like this to sweep audiences off their feet.
Now let me speak-Bullets Over Broadway is the real deal! You’ll laugh and laugh and laugh and applaud..a lot! Run and buy tickets now before they are all gone!
Bullets Over Broadway is playing at the St. James Theatre 246 West 44th Street in New York City. For tickets, call Call Telecharge at (212) 239-6200, or (800) 432-7250, buy them at the theatre, or purchase them online.