What is Broadway? What perfectly encapsulates and exemplifies the pageantry, splendor, and titillation of the Broadway stage?
Well, you’d be hard-pressed to find any musical more exemplary of the perfect Broadway boon than “Bullets over Broadway,” currently on tour and playing at the Pantages Theatre until January 24th.
The extravaganza is rousing, resplendent, and full of roaring twenties fun in New York with a cast that is multifariously talented. In a word, this is one cool musical, which begins with a bang, literally, until its rousing and satisfying conclusion.
Written by Woody Allen and choreographed by Susan Stroman, “Bullets over Broadway” involves the interplay between fledgling playwright David Shayne, portrayed by Michael Williams, and the darkly hilarious woes that befall him.
In a nutshell, when Pittsburgh-native Shayne has to deal with the whims of the play’s financier, gangster boss Nick Valenti (portrayed on-point by Michael Corvino), who wants to cast his shrill, out-of-her-league girlfriend Olive Neal (Jemma Jane) in the production, the playwright finds himself at a creative impasse. Shayne, however, gets lucky, or unlucky perhaps, when Valenti’s top henchman Cheech, and minder of Neal (Jeff Brooks), asserts his ingenuity on the direction of the play. Shayne then must deal with this stress, and his newfound adoration for veteran stage goddess Helen Sinclair (Emma Stratton), who agrees to be in his play, but at the cost of his relationship to his serious girlfriend Ellen (Hannah Rose DeFlumeri) back home.
Of course, there is wonderful comedy within the midst of all the precise drama that unfolds. Jemma Jane is absolutely uproarious as the wannabe actress (Olive Neal) who is terminally oblivious about her lack of on-stage talent. Bradley Allan Zarr is astonishingly funny as the posh but perpetually hungry English actor (Warner Purcell). And Emma Stratton is a revelation as the regal, ravishing, and above-it-all Helen Sinclair.
Certainly, the singing is very pleasing to the senses as well. For instance, in her first number, DeFlumeri finishes off with a crystal clear belting tone that is as effortless as it is technically free of any error. Stratton, too, delivers superb vibrato (much of which is character infused) with choice flourishes and frills that add to the sung words rather than detract from them.
But despite the singing and the acting, it is the impeccable and synchronized dance movements that underscore “Bullets over Broadway.” The movements are so accurate, the athleticism so incredible, and the hot-dogging so hilarious, that you’ll have to see it more than once to appreciate how much happens at one time during any scene.
For example, the performers never cover as much physical ground, and complement each other more beautifully, than during a tap-dancing spectacular that is led by Cheech (Brooks) and his fellow gangsters. The build-up, middle, and final crescendo actually causes time to stand still so everyone in the audience can get up three times and applaud the adrenaline-laden mastery of it all.
“Bullets over Broadway” is a can’t-miss musical that should not only be seen, but more than once.
For more details, visit http://hollywoodpantages.com/bullets-over-broadway