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NY1 Theater Review: "Bullets Over Broadway"

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The hit 1994 Woody Allen film "Bullets Over Broadway" comes to musical life on the Great White Way. NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.

The talent pool is huge for this film-to-stage-adaptation: Susan Stroman, Woody Allen, Marin Mazzie, Karen Ziemba and Zach Braff certainly raise the bar of expectations. And maybe it's too high because "Bullets Over Broadway The Musical" misses more than it hits.

Based on the 1994 comedy by Woody Allen and Douglas McGrath, it seemed a natural fit for the stage and it was already musical with a score featuring songs from the 1920's.

Like the film, Allen's book features Olive Neal, a talentless actress right out of "Born Yesterday," with sugar daddy - mobster Nick Valenti - bankrolling her career. When she expresses a desire to do serious theatre, he signs on to produce a play by struggling writer David Shayne. The story takes a novel twist as it turns out one of Valenti's henchman, Cheech, is a gifted playwright who turns David's mediocre script into a big hit.

Susan Stroman's fine skills are in overdrive with this project and though there's much to applaud, the overall take is that it's disjointed and, I hate to say it, rather pointless. She choreographs some lively dance numbers but the songs stop the momentum and the characters don't rise above stock.

In a strange move, Zach Braff seems to channel Woody Allen's nebbishy persona even though John Cusack played the part on film. And he doesn't give us much to root for. The Soprano's Vincent Pastore is typecast but he's good at it. Helen Yorke conjures Judy Holliday; Nick Cordero plays a smart thug with glee. Triple threat Karen Ziemba gets a cuddly canine co-star, Brooks Ashmanskas as a food-loving ham is a comic feast and as diva Helen Sinclair, the part that won Dianne Wiest an Oscar, Marin Mazzie masters the broad comedy while singing magnificently.

Bullets does have its moments, but too much talent is squandered in a show that should have been a killer hit itself.

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