Bullets Over Broadway (musical)

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Bullets Over Broadway the Musical
2014 Broadway Playbill
Music Various Artists
Lyrics Various Artists
Book Woody Allen
Basis 1994 film Bullets Over Broadway written by
Woody Allen
Douglas McGrath

2014 Broadway

2015 Playhouse Square

Bullets Over Broadway the Musical is a musical written by Woody Allen, based on his and Douglas McGrath's film Bullets over Broadway about a young playwright whose first Broadway play is financed by a gangster. The score consists of jazz and popular standards of the years between World War I and about 1930 by various songwriters. It received its premiere on Broadway, in 2014, at the St. James Theatre, and closed on August 24, 2014 after over a hundred performances.[1]


Bullets Over Broadway the Musical premiered on Broadway at the St. James Theatre on March 11, 2014 in previews, officially opening on April 10, 2014. Directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, the cast features Marin Mazzie (as Helen Sinclair), Zach Braff (as David Shayne), Nick Cordero (as Cheech), Karen Ziemba (as Eden Brent), Vincent Pastore (as Nick Valenti), and Brooks Ashmanskas (as Warner Purcell). Scenic design is by Santo Loquasto, costumes by William Ivey Long, lighting by Donald Holder, sound by Peter Hylenski, musical arrangements and supervision by Glen Kelly and orchestrations by Doug Besterman.[2]

The musical contains jazz and popular standards from the years between World War I and about 1930, with additional lyrics written by Glen Kelly.[3]

The musical closed on August 24, 2014, after 156 performances and 33 previews.[4]

A touring production will start in October 2015. It will begin with a two-week stop at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Ohio from October 6–18.[5] This is a non-Equity tour, directed by Jeff Whiting.[6]


The musical is based on the 1994 film Bullets over Broadway, which had a screenplay by Woody Allen and Douglas McGrath.[7] Work on a musical version of Bullets started in 2000, with Marvin Hamlisch and Craig Carnelia writing the music and Allen writing the book. In 2003, Hamlisch confirmed that work on the musical was proceeding.[8]

In an interview on the opening night of the musical in April 2014, Allen said that he had resisted turning the film into a musical for years, having no interest in it as a musical. However, his sister Letty Aronson thought that it could be done as a period musical, and Allen then became interested. Marvin Hamlisch had played a few of the new songs for Allen, but Allen did not think they were right for the musical. His sister then proposed the idea of using songs of the 1920s, "and it suddenly came to life." Susan Stroman was brought into the creative team two years before the opening.[9]


In 1929, playwright David Shayne is finally getting his first play God of Our Fathers produced on Broadway. The producer, Julian Marx, has enlisted the wealthy gangster Nick Valenti to pay for the show. Valenti wants to have his dim-witted and untalented girlfriend, Olive Neal, star as one of the leads. Valenti has assigned his strong-armed gangster, Cheech, to watch over Olive. Surprisingly, Cheech comes up with great ideas for improving the play. However, aging diva Helen Sinclair, the real star of the show, romances the younger David, who already has a girlfriend, Ellen. Meanwhile, the leading man, Warner Purcell, has his eye on Olive.


Principal roles and original cast

Character Movie Broadway National Tour
David Shayne John Cusack Zach Braff Michael Williams
Helen Sinclair Dianne Wiest Marin Mazzie Emma Stratton
Warner Purcell Jim Broadbent Brooks Ashmanskas Bradley Allan Zarr
Nick Valenti Joe Viterelli Vincent Pastore Michael Corvino
Julian Marx Jack Warden Lenny Wolpe Rick Grossman
Cheech Chazz Palminteri Nick Cordero Jeffrey Brooks
Ellen Mary-Louise Parker Betsy Wolfe Hannah Rose Deflumeri
Olive Neal Jennifer Tilly Helene Yorke Jemma Jane
Eden Brent Tracey Ullman Karen Ziemba Rachel Bahler

Critical reception

According to Stagegrade, the reviews were mixed, with some praising ("fun, beautiful musical") and some panning ("charm-free") the musical. The latter especially criticized the use of existing songs rather than having an original score. They conclude that this "may be among the most polarizing shows of the current season."[11]

Ben Brantley in his review for The New York Times, called the musical "occasionally funny but mostly just loud."[12] Elysa Gardner, in her review for USA Today, commented that the musical has "playful wit and exuberance" and wrote that "'Bullets' offers as much sheer, shameless fun as any show you'll see this season."[13]

Alexis Soloski, reviewing for The Guardian, praised the way Stroman tells the plot through her choreography and especially noted the staging for Ashmanskas ("lumbering jetés"), Yorke ("brassy thrusts') and the tap numbers for the male ensemble. However, she found that the songs were not well integrated into the story.[14]

Awards and nominations

Bullets Over Broadway received six 2014 Tony Award nominations[15] for Best Book of a Musical (Allen), Featured Actor in a Musical (Cordero), Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Loquasto), Best Costume Design of a Musical (Long), Best Choreography (Stroman) and Best Orchestrations (Besterman).[16]

The musical received six 2014 Drama Desk Award nominations, for featured actor (Cordero), director and choreography (Stroman) and set (Loquasto), costume (Long) and sound (Hylenski) design.[17] It won the award for Outstanding Costume Design.[18]

The musical received four Outer Critics Circle Award nominations, and won three: Outstanding Costume Design, Outstanding Featured Actor In A Musical (Nick Cordero), and Outstanding Featured Actress In A Musical (Marin Mazzie).[19]


  1. Bullets Over Broadway website
  2. "Woody Allen Musical Bullets Over Broadway, With Zach Braff and Marin Mazzie, Begins March 11" playbill.com, March 11, 2014
  3. Gordon, David. "Reviews. Bullets Over Broadway ", theatermania.com, April 10, 2014
  4. Gans, Andrew and Hetrick, Adam. "Curtain Comes Down on Woody Allen Musical Bullets Over Broadway " playbill.com, August 24, 2014
  5. Bullets Over Broadway broadway.playhousesquare.org
  6. Gans, Andrew. "Stops Announced for 'Bullets Over Broadway' Tour" playbill.com, April 1, 2015
  7. "The backstage dramas behind Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway musical". theguardian.com. The Guardian. 6 April 2014. Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  8. Simonson, Robert. Work Continues of Musical Version of Bullets Over Broadway ", playbill.com, July 17, 2003
  9. Haun, Harry. "Playbill On Opening Night: Bullets Over Broadway – Guys and Dorks", playbill.com, April 11, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Bullets Over Broadway Playbill Opening Night at St. James Theatre". playbillvault.com. Playbill Vault. Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  11. Chaffa, M. "Critical Snapshot", stagegrade.com, accessed May 2, 2014
  12. Brantley, Ben. "Woody Allen Transforms His 'Bullets Over Broadway'", The New York Times, April 10, 2014
  13. Gardner, Elysa. " 'Bullets Over Broadway' a sheer, shameless good time", USA Today, April 10, 2014
  14. "Woody Allen musical opens with a bang". theguardian.com. The Guardian. 11 April 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  15. "Tony Awards 2014: 'Bullets over Broadway' has lackluster showing". latimes.com. Los Angeles Times. 29 April 2014. Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  16. Gans, Andrew. 68th Annual Tony Awards Nominations Announced; Gentleman's Guide Leads the Pack", playbill.com, April 29, 2014
  17. Gans, Andrew. "2014 Annual Drama Desk Awards Nominations Announced; 'Gentleman's Guide' Earns 12 Nominations", playbill.com, April 25, 2014
  18. Gans, Andrew. "Winners of 59th Annual Drama Desk Awards Announced; 'Gentleman's Guide' and 'All the Way' Win Top Prizes" playbill.com, June 1, 2014
  19. Gans, Andrew."64th Annual Outer Critics Circle Award Winners Announced; 'Gentleman's Guide' Wins Four Awards" playbill.com, May 12, 2014

External links