You stand on the brink of greatness. The world will open to you like an oyster. No…not, like an oyster. The world will open to you like a magnificent vagina.
– Diva Helen Sinclair predicting David’s success
A take-no-prisoners gangster, his beautiful and tone-deaf girlfriend, and an aging diva all come together to make a fearful writer’s first play a major hit. Or a huge disaster. How can all this happen? It is easy when a story is witty, highly amusing, downright hysterical, to be honest, with a sensational cast of characters who typically wouldn’t be in each other’s breathing space, the show will make an indelible mark.
David Shayne (greatly portrayed by Michael Williams) is finally getting his first official play, God of Our Fathers produced on Broadway. This makes his long-time girlfriend Ellen (Hannah Rose DeFlumeri) happy, because now they can finally get married. However, you will feel her long enduring pain when David doesn’t share in Ellen’s enthusiasm. She sets her broken heart aside to help David. He’s already got two problems. He has no money to fund the play and he must deal with the once beautiful and highly praised maven Helen Sinclair (the marvelous Emma Stratton). His friend and producer Julian Marx (an entertaining Rick Grossman) comes in with sophisticated mobster and investor Nicky Valenti (the suave Michael Corvino). At first, David is ecstatic.
That elation is quickly diminished, however, when he discovers that Nicky puts his second in command Cheech (the extremely talented Jeff Brooks) in charge on making sure nothing goes wrong and his beloved Olive (the wonderful Jemma Jane) gets a lead part. This doesn’t make Cheech happy. Not only is he stuck babysitting his boss’ girl but also he must be at every rehearsal. David isn’t happy that Cheech has to be present, but, when you’re placed in a no-way out corner, you’re stuck.
Along the way, Cheech comes up with brilliant suggestions to spice up David’s lackluster work. Even David is impressed by Cheech’s detailed observations. A scheduled table reading goes off smoothly until it’s Olive’s turn to speak and her voice is Betty Boop on helium. Not a good look. David throws his hands up and decides to quit. However, Cheech is around to remind the nebbish writer that he doesn’t have a choice. Nicky is paying for everything, which includes Olive so he had better make it happen. David squirms back into his shell and prays for Jesus to intervene.
In the meantime, Helen and David are involved in some type of May/December romance while the lead actor, Warner Purcell (the hilarious Bradley Allan Zarr) and Olive are involved in a little romance in the dance number “Let’s Misbehave.” The show finally comes into fruition and David gets sick. He’s sweating, feels faint, probably from low blood sugar, and checks his pulse often. David quickly recovers when he hears a roaring applause. He, like everyone else, is surprised and delighted at the outcome. All of Cheech’s ideas makes the play a triumph. David’s excitement or hubris, takes the credit for Cheech’s successful ideas. Not a bright thing to do to someone who’s a foot taller and built like a linebacker.
The dance routines are the most exciting parts of the show. Whether it’s by the Atta-Girls, Mary Callahan, Elizabeth Dugas, Carissa Fiorillo, Lainee Hunter, Corinne Munsch, Kaylee Olson and Lexie Plath in the numbers “Tiger Rag” and (“I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead) You Rascal You,” or by Cheech’s guys including, Jake Corcoran, Patrick Graver, Andrew Hendrick, Justin Jutras, Conor McGiffin, Brian Martin, Joey Ortolani and Ian Saunders, in “There’ll Be Some Changes Made” and also in “Tiger Rag.” Both crews were on point but the men performed with so much swag it fun to watch. Clare Cook (www.claremcook.com) is the choreographer responsible for the awe-inspiring and exhilarating dance numbers. Under her direction, everyone moved with fluidity and with authentic excitement. If you don’t have had that in dance, you might as well take a seat.
Great show all around. High energy, fabulous cast, excellent dance numbers and humor to go around for days. No one will be disappointed. Just don’t piss off Cheech. I’m just saying.
Bullets over Broadway: The Musical plays Friday, Jan. 22nd at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 23rd at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 24th at
1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre located at 6233 Hollywood Blvd., in Los Angeles. For ticket information,