Archive for Bullets Over Broadway
Well, the critics are in agreement about Bullets Over Broadway, but it’s not the consensus that anyone may have expected. Despite the script by Woody Allen and the formidable direction/choreography by Susan Stroman, the would-be comedy musical, based on the 1994 Woody Allen film of the same name, just isn’t funny. Sure, they say Zach Braff is okay and that Marin Mazzie performs well, but the problems run deeper. The musical employs old songs from the 1920s and seems to carry a different, more brash, less sophisticated style of humor in its veins. Bullets Over Broadway just seems to have an identity crisis, it’s caught between wanting to play with the big-time Broadway musicals and wanting to represent the dry style of the Woody Allen comedy classic. Consider yourself warned – if you have long anticipated this opening, you may be most in line for disappointment.
NEW YORK TIMES
“Some things were never meant to be shouted through megaphones. On the basis of Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical, the occasionally funny but mostly just loud new show that opened at the St. James Theater on Thursday night, that would include the wit of Woody Allen. This production, directed in heavy italics by Susan Stroman and featuring a score of 1920s standards and esoterica, is inspired by Mr. Allen’s 1994 film of the same title. It features the same story line, most of the same characters and much of the same dialogue. Yet while the movie was a helium-light charmer, this all-talking, all-singing, all-dancing reincarnation is also all but charm-free. The experience of watching the film was like being tickled, gently but steadily, into a state of mounting hysteria. From the get-go, the musical version, which stars a credible Zach Braff (doing Mr. Allen) and a misused Marin Mazzie (doing Norma Desmond), feels more like being head-butted by linebackers. Make that linebackers in blinding sequins.”
“Everyone hoped Bullets Over Broadway would be the show to get those flickering Broadway lights blazing again. In certain wonderful ways — Susan Stroman’s happy-tappy dance rhythms, the dazzling design work on everything from proscenium curtain to wigs, and a fabulous chorus line of dancing dolls, molls and gangsters — Woody Allen’s showbiz musical is the answer to a Broadway tinhorn’s prayer. Surprisingly, though, the book (from Allen’s own screenplay for his 1994 film) is feeble on laughs, and certain key performers don’t seem comfortable navigating the earthy comic idiom of burlesque. So, let’s call it close — but no cigar. Bullets is that rarity, a musical without an original score. But the two dozen vintage songs culled from the Tin Pan Alley archives to fit the 1920s timeframe have been chosen with as much intelligence as affection.”
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
“Showgirls dressed like frisky tigers shake their moneymakers near the beginning of Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway — and they’re a symbol, for this musical certainly works its tail off to tickle and delight. It’s too bad that the comedy about a playwriting hit man is a bit of a miss. On the plus side, director and choreographer Susan Stroman’s dance numbers pack sure-footed pizzazz. And the good-looking production depicts 1929 New York with wit and grace notes. A theater proscenium decorated with living angels is a lovely little touch. “
NBC NEW YORK
“A gangster appears at the start of Bullets Over Broadway, firing an automatic weapon into the curtain and slowly revealing the musical’s title in the brightly lit “bullet holes” he’s just carved out. It’s the first of countless attention-seizing moments in the terrific new screwball thriller from perfectionist duo Susan Stroman and Woody Allen. Now open at the St. James Theatre, Bullets Over Broadway is a zany, old-fashioned spectacle that features the Broadway debut of actor-writer Zach Braff and a marvelous turn from three-time Tony nominee Marin Mazzie as an aging diva with a signature plea: “Don’t speak!” While not without some curious choices, Bullets is certainly the best of the musicals to open on Broadway so far this season, though make note … it’s a new musical with old music.”
“There’s a ton of talent onstage in Bullets Over Broadway, evident in the leggy chorines who ignite into explosive dance routines, the gifted cast, the sparkling design elements and the wraparound razzle-dazzle of director-choreographer Susan Stroman’s lavish production. So why does this musical, adapted by Woody Allen from his irresistible 1994 screen comedy about the tortured path of the artist, wind up shooting blanks? Flat where it should be frothy, the show is a watered-down champagne cocktail that too seldom gets beyond its recycled jokes and second-hand characterizations to assert an exciting new identity.”
““They go wild, simply wild, over me,” sings Helen Sinclair, an ageing diva, in a deluded attempt to persuade David Shayne, a fledgling playwright, of her enduring appeal. Sinclair, portrayed by the wonderfully self-assured Marin Mazzie, is one of the reasons to see Bullets Over Broadway, the new musical birthed by Woody Allen from his 1994 movie of the same title. The Broadway show makes a Sinclair-sized effort to persuade us of the value of early-20th-century songs shoehorned into a 1929 setting. The attempt is intermittently enjoyable, extremely well crafted by the director/choreographer Susan Stroman, and progressively unthrilling.”
AM NEW YORK
“In an ideal universe, the new musical Bullets Over Broadway, based on the 1994 Woody Allen film, would shut down for a few months so that a talented songwriter – perhaps David Yazbek (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels or the young team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (A Christmas Story) – could pen an original score for it. To its credit, Bullets Over Broadway is mildly entertaining. But given that it has been directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman (The Producers) and has a script by Allen himself, everyone was expecting it to be a knock ‘em dead musical comedy blockbuster.”
All of the nominations are out for the various awards, with most expecting Matilda and Kinky Boots to take home the big prizes this year. It’s always surprising to see flops, like Hands on a Hardbody (which closed after only 28 performances) and Scandalous (which closed after 29) make the lists at all, but there will be a lot of close categories this year. (For a full list of all nominees for all of the various awards, click here.)
Here’s when all of the award ceremonies will take place:
Tony Awards: June 9, 8pm EST
Drama Desk Awards: May 19, 8pm EST
Drama League Awards: May 17, 12pm EST
Outer Critics Circle: Announced May 13
(NOTE: The Theatre World Awards have yet to announce dates…)
And all of the nominated shows…
But enough awards talk, on to exciting NEW things!
First up is one that is confirmed (and already marquee’d) for Broadway: First Date – a new musical about a horrible blind date. It’s slated to begin previews July 9 and open August 4. The show played well to the Seattle crowd and is still undergoing more changes before hitting, the Great White Way – seems a bit better suited for Off-Broadway, but who knows, maybe it’ll be next season’s runaway hit…
The other confirmed musical is Big Fish, an adaptation of the film that’ll star the oh-so-talented Norbert Leo Butz and Kate Baldwin. With Susan Stroman at the helm, there are a lot of big names attached to the project, which is now doing it’s out of town try out in Chicago, so it’s likely going to be a difficult investment to recoup.
Next up is Always… Patsy Cline, a jukebox musical telling the story of Patsy’s life through the eyes of her most devoted fan. Motown is still doing well box-office-wise, so the jukebox musical isn’t likely to die anytime soon. We’ll see if Patsy’s songs can fare better than some of the more recent attempts in this genre.
Prince of Broadway is another jukebox musical looking to open in the fall – celebrating the shows Hal Prince helped make into the big hits they were, this musical will have a bit more self-awareness than other jukebox musicals and a fantastic cast, including: Linda Lavin, Sebastian Arcelus, Sierra Boggess, Daniel Breaker, Josh Grisetti, Shuler Hensley, Richard Kind, Amanda Kloots-Larsen, LaChanze, Caroline O’Connor, David Pittu and Emily Skinner. But apparently that cast is part of the reason the show didn’t open when it was originally slated to do so. Will this one end never making it to opening night? We’ll just have to wait and see…
Then we’ve got Diner, with Sheryl Crow penning the score and lyrics and Barry Levinson, the film’s director and writer on the book. Bosting an Academy Award, Emmy Award and Grammy Award between them, this pair is hoping to add some Tony’s to their shelf too.
Beyond that are a number of shows that have tentative and out-of-town announcements, including:
Rocky: The Musical (a German transfer based on the film and directed by Alex Timbers)
Houdini (with music by Stephen Schwartz and starring Hugh Jackman)
Ever After (based on the film and directed by Kathleen Marshall)
Bullets Over Broadway (based on the film and directed by Susan Stroman)
Les Miserables (with fresh scenic and narrative elements and new orchestrations)
Aladdin (based on the Disney film and directed by Casey Nicholaw)
Some exciting stuff in there…hopefully they all make it to Broadway!
What are you most looking forward to seeing?