BWW Review: BULLETS OVER BROADWAY Aims to Please at Dallas Summer Musicals
Bullets Over Broadway Aims to Please at Dallas Summer Musicals
Wednesday night Dallas theatergoers sipped their wine and slipped back to the salacious days of the roaring 20's. The National Tour of Bullets Over Broadway landed for its Dallas premiere June 14th and the audience couldn't have been more welcoming. Written by Woody Allen based on a screenplay by himself and Douglas McGrath, Bullets offers all the bells and whistles of a solid 20's era show-decked out with drop waist dresses, showgirls, booze, and mobsters.
Opening the production with the rousing chorus of the "Tiger Rag", the ensemble ladies felt a bit timid atop their kitten heels. Seeing as one dancer slipped later in the show, this reviewer chalks it up to the feverish anxiety of being a touring artist on a new stage floor in heels every week. This timidity was mirrored by the character of Nick Valenti in"Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You." The part of Valenti was played by understudy Justin Jutras in the June 15th performance which this reviewer attended. Much like the female ensemble, Jutras too found his footing later in the night, but remained a weaker principle in comparison to the rest of the cast.
Hannah Rose Deflumeri was the first standout performance of the evening as Ellen. Equal parts bookish girlfriend to writer David and independent woman, Deflumeri's powerhouse voice rang true in "Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me" and continues to elate throughout the evening. By the third number "Tain't a Fit Night Out for Man or Beast", the Bullets cast really hits its stride. The male ensemble is bold and aggressive with the ability to deftly execute the original direction and award winning choreography by Susan Stroman. Their rendition of "Tain't Nobody's Biz-ness If I Do" is a complete showstopper at the end of Act I.
The clever writing by Allen creates a show with the charm of the Drowsy Chaperone amidst the bawdy humor of the Producers. One liners are easily lobbed up and knocked out of the park much to the delight of the eager audience. Nobody exemplifies this model better than the character of Helen Sinclair, played by the formidable Emma Stratton. Her ability to scene steal and overact is exactly what the role of Sinclair demands, all while boasting the pipes worthy of her diva status. Several other principle roles played by Michael Williams (as David), Jemma Jane (as Olive) and Bradley Allan Zarr (as Warner) all take turns having their own moments of whimsy and hilarity while Jeff Brooks (as Cheech) plays a convincing, menacing hit man.
Jason Ardizzone-West's craftily designed set rightly displays each tableau with clever use of interchangeable backdrops and simple, yet stylish, set pieces that still allow ample room for the dancers and gunslingers alike to careen across the stage. Paired with the original Broadway lighting design of Donald Holder (expertly adapted by Carolyn Wong), the show easily shifts from scene to scene without pause.
Aside from a very few mic issues, this is one of the most solid overall productions to be seen at DSM in recent years. Bullets Over Broadway continues its run in the Music Hall at Fair Park through June 26th. Tickets may be purchased at DallasSummerMusicals.org, by phone at 1.800.514.ETIX (3849) and at the Box Office.