Woody Allen Spoofs the 1920s in “Bullets Over Broadway”
By Skip Sheffield
“Bullets Over Broadway” was not one of Woody Allen’s better films when it came out in 1994. The stage musical version, which debuted in 2014, is no improvement.
Nevertheless there is some fun to be had with the touring production, which runs through Sunday, March 27 at Kravis Center in West Palm Beach.
The show mixes original songs by Woody Allen, Douglas McGrath and Glen Kelly with popular hits from the 1920s (the setting is 1929). The story premise is the same as in the movie. David Shayne (Michael Williams), a promising young playwright, has written his first play and is desperate to raise the money to mount it on Broadway. David finds an unlikely backer; a mobster named Nick Valenti (Michael Corvino). There is a catch, and it is a big one. In order to release the funds, David has to agree to cast Nick’s talentless, crass, screechy girlfriend Olive Neal (Gemma Jane) in a principal role. Nick sends one of his enforcers, a guy who calls himself Cheech (Jeffrey Brooks), as “protection” for Olive.
As it turns out, Cheech has more artistic talent than David Shayne. It is his revisions that turn the show around into something really worthy.
There are side plots. The overbearing Grand Dame star, Helen Sinclair (Emma Stratton) sees David as a conquest. The problem is David already has a girlfriend, Ellen (Hannah Rose Deflumeri).
Everything will sort out and come together in a finale opening night, which we see from a backstage point of view. Any show that has “Yes, We have No Bananas” as a curtain number can’t be all bad. The dancing, based on original choreography by Susan Stroman, is agile and spirited. The costumes and sets are bright and brash. The band is rock solid. Given the material, the acting is as good as one could hope. I'll still take "Manhattan."
Tickets are $49-$67. Call 800-572-8471 or go to www.kravis.org.