A little over two years ago I was at the Broadway opening night for Bullets Over Broadway. Despite the glitz and glamour of the night, not to mention checking attending a Broadway opening night off the bucket list, the show fell flat. So I was curious on how I’d like the National Tour when it stopped in Saint Paul at the Ordway this week.
Based on Woody Allen’s 1994 film of the same name, Bullets Over Broadway joins a long list of screen-to-stage adaptations. Set during the Jazz Age, Bullets Over Broadway is a show of mobsters and show business.
After mob enforcer Cheech (Jeff Brooks) is charged with looking after Olive (Jemma Jane), a talentless pretty face who dreams of being a Broadway star, during rehearsal for a show backed by her boyfriend and mob boss Nick Valenti (Michael Corvino), he slowly goes from sitting in to the corner during rehearsals to being an uncredited co-writer of the show.
Although not the official male lead, Jeff Brooks steals the show with Cheech. His tough-buy mob persona is slowly eroded to convey a guy with a soft side and a talent for writing. His show stopping tap routine with a group of mobsters near the end of Act One is the best dance number of the show. Unlike other characters in the show, Cheech has dimension and develops over the course of the show.
Minnesota born Emma Stratton takes on the role of aging Broadway Diva Helen Sinclair. She beautifully commands the stage and plays up the enormous ego of her character. She has the strongest voice of the cast and stage presence too.
While Bullets Over Broadway isn’t a meaty musical, it is one full of spectacle, gorgeous costumes by Tony-Award® winner William Ivey Long, choreography by Susan Stroman and jukebox songs which feel like they were written for the show; including Cole Porter’s “Let’s Misbehave”.
Bullets Over Broadway continues through April 17 at Saint Paul’s Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. For more information on tickets, visit their site.