Theater Review: Bullets Over Broadway

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Bullets Over Broadway at TPAC Nov. 10 - 15 is pure fun and highly entertaining for adult audiences.

TPAC’s Broadway Series:
Bullets Over Broadway (Nov. 10 – 15; Ages 16 and older)
TPAC’s Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
615-782-4040 •
Show times: Tue – Thu 7:30 p.m., Fri 8 p.m., Sat 2 & 8 p.m., Sun 1 & 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 – $70

An energetic, highly entertaining good time awaits this week in TPAC’s Jackson Hall with the national tour of Bullets Over Broadway, part of TPAC’s Broadway Series this season. Although it’s a non-Equity tour, don’t let that stop you from seeing the show — it’s a spectacular night of musical theater that’s a lot of fun!

Bullets Over Broadway is written by Woody Allen, and it’s based on his 1994 movie of the same name (co-written by Douglas McGrath). It’s about a playwright getting his first play produced on Broadway in 1929 and the happenings that ensue when a well-to-do gangster finances the show. The catch? The gangster stipulates that his talentless, dim-witted girlfriend (who used to be a hooker) must be cast in the show in a significant role.

Bullets made its official Broadway opening in April 2014 at New York’s St. James Theatre featuring direction and choreography by five-time Tony Award-winner Susan Stroman (the show garnered six Tony nominations in 2014 … for the tour, Clare Cook recreates the choreography while Jeff Whiting recreates the direction). The stage musical stays true to the film’s story arc, including much of Allen’s unique style of humorous dialogue, and double entendre is woven through the dialogue and musical numbers. The cast delivers all the humor with good timing for the most part while dazzling the audience with lots of great dancing, from flashy flapper numbers by the ladies to high-energy tap performances by the guys.

One of the most interesting components of the musical is that it doesn’t come with its own original score. Instead, it incorporates actual jazz and pop standards from the 1920s with some additional lyrics by Glen Kelly. While a few of the songs don’t seem to fit the show (though the performances are great), most of them truly hit the mark, like “Tain’t Nobody’s Bizness if I Do” (the phenomenal tap number by the gangsters) and the risque “Let’s Misbehave.” It’s cool to experience real music from the time period.

Several cast members deliver wonderful performances, including Michael Williams (playwright David Shayne), Jeff Brooks (Cheech, the gangster with a knack for writing a play) and Bradley Allen Zarr (foodie Warner Purcell with the ever-growing belly). Emma Stratton offers a striking performance as the Norma Desmond-like aging star of the stage, Helen Sinclair; she’s one of the best players in the show.

Jemma Jane, however, delivers the most memorable character in the production, Olive Neal — the untalented gangster’s girlfriend who gets cast in Shayne’s play as a condition of the financial investment. Jane perfectly plays the nasally, irritating bimbo with aplomb, including her unforgettable, provocative, tongue-in-cheek musical number, “The Hot Dog Song.”

Due to mature language and suggestive content, Bullets Over Broadway is definitely not one for the kids, but it’s a perfect date night with your significant other. Bottom line: It’s just a fun, entertaining show from start to finish.





Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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