Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron
Bullets over Broadway
Review by David Ritchy
Also see David's reviews of First Love and King Lear
With a-rat-a-tat-tat, Cheech (Jeff Brooks) lifts his deadly weapon and fires at the backdrop. He shoots the words "Bullets over Broadway" into the set and the audience should know we're in the middle of a gangland shooting spree. But the gang wants to play on Broadway. Not reallythe guys want Olive Neal (Jemma Jane) to have a role in a Broadway show. She's the girl of one of the thugs. She doesn't have to have the lead, but, she certainly doesn't want a walk-on role. Playwright and director David Shayne (Michael Williams) agrees to cast Olive only because the guys will finance his show and if he doesn't cast her they will probably rub him out.
Jeff Brooks and Cast
The big problem is simple - Olive can't act.
Don't worry, Cheech has been assigned to attend all rehearsals and make sure Olive is treated like a lady and no one makes a pass at her. But, Cheech starts making suggestions for improving the scriptand his suggestions are good. As Cheech starts making references to "my play," David becomes uncomfortable. But he needs a hit, or his career is dead.
The company has cast Helen Sinclair (Emma Stratton) in the leading role. Helen has been absent from Broadway for several years. This return to Broadway attracts a good deal of attention and could rejuvenate her career. As rehearsals progress David and Helen start a backstage affair. This means David dumps Ellen (Hannah Rose Deflumeri), who can belt a song better than anyone else on the stage.
Bullets over Broadway is the marriage of gangster business and show business. This marriage couldn't be better.
The performers are excellent. Jeff Brooks is terrific as the gangland star. He kills with as much skill as he dances. He and the "boys" stop the show with a spectacular performance of "'Tain't Nobody's Biz-ness If I Do." Obviously, these thugs studied ballet and jazz and bring their dancing and singing skills to the stage in a dynamite performance. In the second act, Cheech and the gangsters join forces again for a wild performance of "There'll Be Some Changes Made." Okay, the change in me is I'll have a new respect for singing and dancing gangsters.
Susan Stroman (original direction and choreography) created a strong show. Her assistant director (Jeff Whiting) and assistant choreographer (Clare Cook) took over duties re-creating the original direction and choreography. The direction and choreography are excellentthanks to Stroman, Cook and Whiting. Woody Allen (playwright) has created a giggly, wiggly gadfly script. The plot has significant surprisesmore than I usually expect in a cute musical comedy.
Bullets over Broadway plays through October 18, 2015. For ticket information, telephone 1-800-363-5085.
Following the performance in Cleveland, Bullets over Broadway goes into two one-night stands - Muncie, Indiana (October 19) and Springfield, Illinois (October 20). At this time, the show is booked through Dallas, June 26, 2016. For more information on the tour, visit bulletsoverbroadwayontour.com.
Playwright: Woody Allen
Based on the film written by Woody Allen and Douglas McGrath
Cheech: Jeff Brooks
Nick Valenti: Michael Corvino
The Atta-Girls: Mary Callahan,
Elizabeth Dugas, Carissa Fiorillo, Corinne Munsch, Kaylee Olson, Lexie Plath
Aldo: Brian Martin
David Shayne: Michael Williams
Ellen: Hannah Rose Deflumeri
Sheldon Flender: Conor McGiffin
Bohemian Friends: Blaire Baker,
Corrine Munsch, Patrick Graver
Julian Marx: Rick Grossman
Cotton Club Dancers: Carissa Fiorillo, Kaylee Olson
Rocco: Ian Saunders
Flappers: Elizabeth Dugas, Carissa Fiorillo, Kaylee Olson
Gangsters: Jake Corcoran, Patrick Graver, Andrew Hendrick, Justin Jutras, Conor McGiffin, Brian Martin, Joey Ortolani, Ian Saunders
Vendor: Justin Jutras
The Four Franks: Jake Corcoran, Brian Martin, Joey Ortolani, Ian Saunders
Helen Sinclair: Emma Stratton
Josette: Blaire Baker
Victim: Justin Jutras
Mitchell Sabine: Jake Corcoran
Lorna: Elizabeth Dugas
Warner Purcell: Bradley Allan Zarr
Eden Brent: Rachel Bahler
Understudies: Brian Martin, Lexie Plath
Violet: Lainee Hunter
Hilda Marx: Blaire Baker
Train Conductor: Andrew Hendrick
The Red Caps: Mary Callahan, Elizabeth Dugas, Carissa Fiorillo, Lainee Hunter, Corinne Munsch, Kaylee Olson, Lexie Plath
Conductor: Robbie Cowan
Associate Conductor: Henry Lewers
Drums: Jacob Forbes
Reeds: Matt Feltner, Brian Shaw, Jordan Standlee
Trumpets: Joshua Wagner, Joe Pino
Trombone: Christopher Caine
Guitar: Jon Hawkins
Scenic Designer: Jason Ardizzone-West
Costume Designer: William Ivey Long
Sound Designer: Shannon Slaton
Original and Choreography : Susan Stroman
Choreography Recreated : Clare Cook
Directing Recreated: Jeff Whiting.
Photo: Matthew Murphy
- David Ritchey