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Bullets Over Broadway (musical)

Bullets Over Broadway the Musical is a jukebox 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
Bullets Over Broadway.jpg
2014 Broadway Playbill
MusicVarious Artists
LyricsVarious Artists
BookWoody Allen
BasisBullets Over Broadway
by Woody Allen
Douglas McGrath
Productions2014 Broadway
2015 US Tour


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 started in October 2015. It had a two-week stop at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Ohio from October 6–18.[5] This was a non-Equity tour, directed by Jeff Whiting.[6]

The first high school production in the United States opened April 28, 2017 and closed May 7, 2017 at Santa Barbara High School in Santa Barbara, Ca. It was directed by Otto Layman, with Musical Direction by Dr. Jon Nathan, Choreography by Christina McCarthy, and Costume Design by Bonnie Thor. The set was designed by Otto Layman and Jonathan Mitchell, with Lights designed by Mike Madden.


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]

Celebrities such as Barbara Walters, Regis Philbin, and Diane Wiest showed up on opening night.


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-arm 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 castEdit

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 Cruz
Olive Neal Jennifer Tilly Heléne Yorke Jemma Jane
Eden Brent Tracey Ullman Karen Ziemba Rachel Bahler

Critical receptionEdit

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 nominationsEdit

Original Broadway productionEdit

Year Award ceremony Category Nominee Result
2014 Tony Award Best Book of a Musical Woody Allen Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Nick Cordero Nominated
Best Choreography Susan Stroman Nominated
Best Orchestrations Doug Besterman Nominated
Best Scenic Design Santo Loquasto Nominated
Best Costume Design William Ivey Long Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Nick Cordero Nominated
Outstanding Director of a Musical Susan Stroman Nominated
Outstanding Choreography Nominated
Outstanding Set Design Santo Loquasto Nominated
Outstanding Costume Design William Ivey Long Won
Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical Peter Hylenski Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Nick Cordero Won
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Marin Mazzie Won
Outstanding Chroreographer Susan Stroman Nominated
Outstanding Costume Design William Ivey Long Won
Drama League Award Distinguished Production of a Musical Nominated
Fred and Adele Astaire Awards Outstanding Male Dancer in a Broadway Show Nick Cordero Nominated
Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Show Heléne Yorke Nominated
Karen Ziemba Nominated
Outstanding Choreographer in a Broadway Show Susan Stroman Nominated
Theatre World Award Nick Cordero Won


  1. ^ Bullets Over Broadway website
  2. ^ "Woody Allen Musical Bullets Over Broadway, With Zach Braff and Marin Mazzie, Begins March 11" Archived April 8, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, March 11, 2014
  3. ^ Gordon, David. "Reviews. Bullets Over Broadway ",, April 10, 2014
  4. ^ Gans, Andrew and Hetrick, Adam. "Curtain Comes Down on Woody Allen Musical Bullets Over Broadway " Archived August 26, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, August 24, 2014
  5. ^ Bullets Over Broadway Archived April 2, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Stops Announced for 'Bullets Over Broadway' Tour", April 1, 2015
  7. ^ "The backstage dramas behind Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway musical". The Guardian. April 6, 2014. Retrieved April 30, 2014.
  8. ^ Simonson, Robert. Work Continues of Musical Version of Bullets Over Broadway " Archived December 24, 2013, at the Wayback Machine,, July 17, 2003
  9. ^ Haun, Harry. "Playbill On Opening Night: Bullets Over Broadway – Guys and Dorks" Archived May 2, 2014, at the Wayback Machine,, April 11, 2014
  10. ^ a b "Bullets Over Broadway Playbill Opening Night at St. James Theatre". Playbill Vault. Archived from the original on May 2, 2014. Retrieved April 30, 2014.
  11. ^ Chaffa, M. "Critical Snapshot" Archived May 2, 2014, at the Wayback Machine,, 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". The Guardian. April 11, 2014. Retrieved May 2, 2014.

External linksEdit