'Bullets Over Broadway' Review: Broadway Show Fails To Live Up To The Original
Bullets Over Broadway is a brilliant backstage comedy that parodies the hypocrisies of Broadway theater through the use of a robust cast and endearing characters. I'm talking about the original film by Woody Allen, of course. The musical adaptation is a different species.
David Shayne (Zach Braff) is a focused playwright with the stubbornness to maintain dominion over his work. But this changes when his producer, Julian Marx (Lenny Wolpe), suggests that Nick Valenti (Vincent Pastore) help produce his play on Broadway. Little does he know that Nick, a mobster, wants to use his play as a vehicle for his girlfriend Olive Neal (Heléne Yorke). Along the way, Shayne deals with a slew of other characters, including a difficult theater veteran named Helen Sinclair (Marin Mazzie), and Olive's bodyguard Cheech (Nick Cordero), who has been secretly revising Shayne's work, suggesting he's the better playwright.
It's actually a bit shocking how the musical doesn't hold a candle to the original 1994 film. After all, Allen put his trust in director and choreographer Susan Stroman, who adapted the 1964 film, The Producers, to Broadway. Bullets Over Broadway seems to have a hard time translating Allen's wit on to the stage. In the musical, crucial lines are tossed around without so much as a shrug. It doesn't help that the tolerable Zach Braff gives off an air of indifference in his role, while the rest of the cast tries too hard to recreate the performances in the original film.
Though some of the humor and wit from the film is lost, the musical does create a fun atmosphere with its catchy show tunes – “The Hot Dog Song” song is a standout. Ms. Yorke is amazing too, as she dazzles us with a nightclub style scat solo to start the show.
This musical adaptation wasn't a flop by any means. Bullets Over Broadway simply failed at bringing Woody Allen's classic film into musical form without sacrificing humor and wit. But at least we get dancing hot dogs.