Book by Woody Allen & Douglas McGrath
Music & Lyrics by Various Composers
Directed by Jeff Whiting
Choreographed by Clare Cook from the work
of Susan Stroman
Produced by Broadway In Chicago
At the Private Bank Theatre, Chicago
Funny Roaring 20’s musical comedy energetic and fun
Bullets Over Broadway, based on the 1994 hit Woody Allen film, closed on August 24, 2014, after 156 performances and 33 previews. The non-Equity National Tour is a fun-filled old fashioned manic musical comedy. Why this musical failed on Broadway is a mystery to me. Maybe because it used trunk songs from various composers, or perhaps because it is structured like those 20′-30’s musicals? What ever the case on Broadway, the National Tour, in Chicago through May 1, 2016 at the old Shubert, now the Private Bank Theatre, is a whimsical, pleasing musical. It possesses terrific dancing, as only Susan Stroman can create, using the melodies of the Roaring 20’s. It is a major dance show!
Bullets Over Broadway’s plot: In 1929, playwright David Shayne (the winning Michael Williams) is finally getting his first play, God of Our Fathers, produced on Broadway. The producer, Julian Marx (Rick Grossman), has enlisted the wealthy gangster Nick Valenti (Michael Corvino) to pay for the show. Valenti wants to have his dim-witted and untalented girlfriend, Olive Neal, (Jemma Jane) star as one of the leads. Valenti has assigned his strong-armed gangster, Cheech, (the fabulous Jeff Brooks) to watch over Olive. Surprisingly, Cheech comes up with great ideas for improving the play. However, aging diva Helen Sinclair (Emma Stratton, the real star of the show), romances the younger David, who already has a girlfriend, Ellen (Hannah Rose Deflumeri). Meanwhile, the leading man, Warner Purcell, (the hilarious Bradley Allan Zarr) has his eye on Olive. Mayhem ensues!
Filled with familiar songs like Hoagy Carmichael’s “Up A Lazy River,” and “I’m Sitting on top of the World,” together with rousing tunes like Cole Porter’s “Let’s Misbehave,” Bullets Over Broadway plays as zany fun. Most of the tunes underscore the mood or tone of the comic action.
The show’s cast of non-Equity players danced superbly and the main characters were first rate. Equity should do something about such terrific talent working for way under what their worth before all Equity tours disappear.
But for Chicago audiences, Bullets Over Broadway plays as a nicely paced, well danced show with funny lines (Woody Allen at his funniest) and spot-on dancers, particularly the dancing gangsters.
Audiences will be quite entertained by this flawed, but cute show despite some strange song choices like the finale’s use of “Yes, We Have No Bananas .” If you enjoy, as I do, the old-fashion structured classical musicals, you’ll have fun at Bullets Over Broadway.
For more info checkout the Bullets Over Broadway page at theatreinchicago.com
At the Private Bank Theatre, 18 W. Monroe, Chicago, IL,www.broadwayinchicago.com, call 800-775-2000, tickets $18-$86,Tuesdays at 7:30 pm, Wednesdays at 2 & 7:30 pm, Thursdays & Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays a 2 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2 & 7;30 pm, running time is 2hours, 40 minutes with intermission, through May 1, 2016