Thursday, March 16, 2017

reviews - BULLETS OVER BROADWAY - Phoenix Theatre

the cast of Bullets Over Broadway - photo by Reg Madison Photography
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through April 2nd.

"...Bullets Over Broadway the Musical ... the kind of dazzling, showbiz, musical production in which Phoenix Theatre excels. Beyond a doubt, director Michael Barnard and his talented production team have pulled out all the stops....Mobster Nick Valenti (Scott Davidson) is a guy who will do anything to please his untalented doll, Olive (Michelle Chin). Olive wants to be a star on Broadway. ...To keep her happy, Valenti bankrolls a new play written by David Shayne (Toby Yatso) whose dream of having one of his scripts finally produced on the Great White Way has come to fruition...But there’s a problem. The mobster assigns hit man Cheech (Caleb Reese) to always be on set to keep an eye on things. When rehearsals hit a snag, it’s Cheech, not the playwright, who has the best idea on how to make improvements....not having a new score seems like a missed opportunity...but there’s no denying that those early 20s and 30s standards are fun, elevated by Sam Hay’s high-energy choreography teamed with director Barnard’s sparkling musical staging. ...It’s a large, all-singing, all-tap dancing cast, all of whom work together to make one clever and very funny parody of the gangland era mixed with the backstage, farcical shenanigans of a Broadway show. ...The production values under Mark Reynolds’ watch are high, from Alan Ruch’s punchy musical direction, Dave Temby’s sound, Cari Sue Smith’s period costumes, Kelly Yurko’s wigs, and all brought to colorful life by Michael J Eddy’s lighting. Surprisingly, the original Broadway production received only mixed reviews and closed earlier than expected. This Phoenix Theatre production runs until April 2. It could run longer." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"...Wacky characters and a comical plot make for a fun and infectious musical comedy and, while the show's Broadway run was brief...Phoenix Theatre presents the Arizona premiere of the musical in a sumptuous production with a cast of gifted comical actors and pristine production elements....Allen's musical script is fairly faithful to the screenplay he wrote with Douglas McGrath. While the show does not have an original musical score, instead using over twenty songs from the period including several that are familiar, Allen's dialogue pops with many funny moments..some of the songs are a bit of a stretch for the plot, appearing at numerous times to be uncomfortably shoehorned in...Michael Barnard's direction is spotless, as is his entire comically gifted cast. Toby Yatso is perfect as David, the slightly pretentious young man who doesn't want to compromise his play yet finds his highbrow hopes dashed when faced with reality. ...Caleb Reese is exceptional as the murderous thug never quite know if he's going to kill someone or croon a tune...Sally Jo Bannow is sublime as the almost, but not quite, over the hill Helen in an utterly hilarious performance full of exaggerated gestures steeped in melodrama. As the ditzy Olive, Michelle Chin is a firecracker. With a screechy voice (worse than nails on a chalkboard) and a rough exterior, Chin delivers an exceptional portrayal of this dimwitted and lewd chorine who you just love to hate....Barnard's direction flows seamlessly in cinematic fashion as it moves from one locale to another, expertly using Robert Kovach's lush, rotating, two-tiered set ...Sam Hay's excellent choreography adds plenty of moments of non-stop dazzle and heightened comedic moments throughout, including the showstopping "Tain't Nobody's Biz-ness If I Do" in which Reese leads the very talented ensemble into a stunning tap dance frenzy. With a talented cast, clean and crisp direction, and superb creative elements, Bullets Over Broadway might not have been a success on Broadway but at Phoenix Theatre it is a frothy and rollicking good time. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"... Like the original film, a successful production must include an over-the-top, razzle-dazzle extravaganza to make the story’s bizarre machinations evolve from overblown silliness into hysterical comedy.  Under Michael Barnard’s deft staging and utilizing the finest local singing and dancing comedians, the Phoenix Theatre production creates the necessary comic allure that was missing on Broadway. I floated out of Phoenix Theatre on a laugh-filled high because of Barnard’s jazzy production, Sam Hay’s amusing dances, Robert Kovach’s ingeniously moving sets, and Cari Sue Smith’s gorgeous 20s fashions.  The large cast is perfection ..." --Chris Curcio, KBAQ (click here to read the complete review)

"Shooting some excellent fun into the Valley's theatre scene, Phoenix Theatre opened Bullets Over Broadway... this weekend.  Contemplative and deep, it is not. Leave unhappy or unimpressed?  It won't happen....the thin story evolves so that a gangster's talentless showgirl girlfriend can be a star. A struggling, idealistic, but only mediocre playwright thus finds his show produced and on its way to Broadway. Popular standards of the 1920s and 30s like 'Tiger Rag' (Hold That Tiger), Cole Porter's "Let's Misbehave," "Up a Lazy River" (made famous by Hoagy Carmichael & Louis Armstrong), and the ever-ridiculous "Yes! We Have No Bananas" cleverly suit the plot as well....showstopper after showstopper just kept spilling off  the stage. There were tap dancing mafia members who stole the show, legitimate Charleston moments, and rapid-fire belted ballads by big beautiful voices. ...Director Michael Barnard bullet-proofed the production with a creative team of over-achievers who built a technically pleasing show that boasts a killer lighting design, fabulously bright era-appropriate costumes, a snazzy set, and creative staging... It's fun-loving bawdy.  Talent oozes and laughter rips.  If your brain has been buried in the complex and the stressful and the anxious, Phoenix Theatre's new show could well be your magic bullet.." -- Jennifer Haaland, PHX Stages (click here to read the complete review)

"“Noises Off” meets “Ain’t Misbehavin’”...Using a collection of entendre-laden tunes from the Jazz Age, it’s a satire on the age-old conflict between art and commerce ...a meat-and-potatoes comedy that is neither overly predictable nor ingeniously surprising, but Phoenix Theatre’s production is immensely entertaining thanks to a fantastic cast that squeezes every last laugh out of their stock characters. ...It’s a tongue-in-cheek love letter to the theater — with a few gangland murders thrown in, just for fun. " Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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