by Lorie Lewis Ham
I saw the Woody Allen movie Bullets Over Broadway many years ago, and I really enjoyed it. So when I saw that COS in Visalia was doing the musical stage version I couldn’t wait to see it.In Bullets Over Broadway a young struggling playwright named David Shayne (Alex Rozier) finally gets his big break–a chance to get his new musical on Broadway while retaining control. David blames his past bombs on directors ruining his scripts. What he doesn’t realize is that the money comes with conditions and that it comes from a gangster named Nick Valenti (David Lemon). The condition is that Nick’s girlfriend, Olive (Schyler Mayo), get a good part in the show. Sadly, Olive can’t act to save her life. Nick sends one of his men, Cheech (Jack O’Leary), to watch over Olive and strangely enough, it is Cheech who helps Nick turn the show into something honest and real instead of pretentious and flat. To further complicate matters the star of the show, aging diva Helen Sinclair (Alina Gonzalez), romances David who already has a girlfriend, Ellen (Kayla Seffing). Also, the leading man of David’s show, Warner Purcell (Jonathan Jones) has an eating problem, and decides to go after Olive.
Some of the music in the show is familiar, as Woody Allen decided at the suggestion of his sister, according to Wikipedia, to use jazz and popular songs from the 1920s. Some of the songs I recognized were “You Rascal You,” “Up A Lazy River,” and “She’s Funny That Way.” While I enjoyed every number in the show, my favorite was the big song and dance number by Cheech and the gangsters, “Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do.” Jack O’Leary is wonderful in this role and this number was a lot of fun! I had seen Jack before in the COS production of White Christmas, where he played Bing Crosby’s character Bob Wallace.
This really is a stellar and very talented cast! Alina Gonzalez seems born to play a role like Helen–she was perfect as the elegant 1920s diva. Schyler Mayo was hilarious as Olive. David Lemon had the accent and everything down wonderfully for the gangster Nick. Jonathan Jones (who played Phil Davis in White Christmas) was very funny as Warner. Another person who was also in White Christmas was Kayla Seffing (she played Judy in White Christmas)–I recognized her lovely voice right away. Felicity Brophy, as Eden Brent, the perky ingenue in David’s show, also has a beautiful voice and adds some fun comedic bits to her role with her often present dog (played by a puppet) Mr. Woofles.
Bullets Over Broadway is a fun show with a wonderful cast who will keep you laughing all the way through! And as a bonus there is a live orchestra! As you might expect coming from Woody Allen, there is a lot of sexual innuendo-so not really a show for little kids–but everyone else will love it!
The show is performed at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia through March 25. Tickets can be purchased online or via phone at 559-730-3907 or at the door.
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