Unlike many others, the entire "Bullets" cast shines

Set in New York City in the roaring 1920’s, “Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical” offers a story of a young and ambitious playwright named David (played by Michael Williams) who is eager to have his latest play funded and produced on Broadway. David finds a backer for the show, but like many other avenues in life, it comes with a catch—the man with the big wallet is a high-powered mobster that insists his burlesque dancer girlfriend have part in the play.

In the initial scenes, enter one Ms. Olive Neal, the cute, bleach blonde, petite mob boss’ girlfriend with, shall we say, colorful (read: crass), acting talents. Olive, portrayed by actress Jemma Jane, quickly sets the tone for the rest of the innuendo-filled show with her hilariously sleazy rendition of “The Hot Dog Song.” Complete with four ridiculously larger-than-life dancing, singing men in hot dog suits, Olive slinks around the stage and belts out how she just wants a juicy “hot dog” for her roll.

Brainlessly funny and bold as she is, Jemma Jane isn’t the only one jazzing the crowd.  Unlike so many other productions, the entire cast of “Bullets” truly shines. In particular, Jeff Brooks, playing the role of “Cheech,” a gangster hitman desiring to slyly help the playwright with his lackluster script, dominated the stage the whole show with his dry wit and suave demeanor.  Giving Jeff a run for his money is his on-stage polar opposite personality, “Warner Purcell” (played by Bradley Allan Zarr). Warner, one of the actors cast by the onstage playwright, portrays a truly fabulous (in the gayest meaning of the word) and uproarious actor more interested in feeding his mouth than his acting career.      

Reminiscent of Fosse and Ebb’s musical “Chicago,” “Bullets” is packed full of fast-paced and catchy tunes that keep the actors jumping and gliding over the stage. Of particular fantastical note is a lengthy and impressive tap dance routine by Cheech and the Gangsters—“Tain’t Nobody’s Bizness If I Do.” Watching these dapper men click and clap in perfect synchronization was delightful and had Tuesday night’s audience shrieking with enthusiasm.

In addition to the musical treat for the ears, Costume Designer William Long does the same for the eyes with the spot on flapper dresses and hats and the men’s garb of three-piece pinstripe suits. Showcasing some of these superb costumes, “The Red Caps” and “The Atta Girls” (ensembles of seven of the toniest, sexiest women on the set) sashay on and off the stage providing extra eye-candy and an ongoing reminder of the bustling era.

Based on the screenplay of the film, Woody Allen’s “Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical” is part of  the HCA/TriStar Health Broadway season at TPAC’s Jackson Hall and has performances through Sunday, November 15, 2015.  Student rush tickets are available for all performances; other tickets start at $20 and can be purchased in person at the TPAC box office or online at www.TPAC.org.





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