Bullets Over Broadway, the new musical by Woody Allen that he adapted from his own 1994 movie, opened on Thursday at the St. James Theatre in New York amid lingering media speculation surrounding the writer-director’s personal life.
Allen appeared on the Bullets red carpet and was supposed to attend the after-party held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Oscar-winning filmmaker wrote the script for the musical, but he left the directorial duties to Broadway veteran Susan Stroman, who previously helmed the screen-to-stage hit musical The Producers.
Zach Braff of Scrubs plays the role of David Shayne, a rising playwright who makes a Faustian bargain with the mob, which was originated on-screen by John Cusack. The role of Helen Sinclair — a vain Broadway actress originally played by Oscar-winner Dianne Wiest — is played onstage by Marin Mazzie.
The songs are a jukebox arrangement of period favourites from the Depression.
Bullets isn’t Allen’s first Broadway production. He has had a number of plays produced in New York, including Don’t Drink the Water back in 1966.
Allen’s personal life was in the media spotlight earlier this year following allegations from his estranged adopted daughter that the filmmaker molested her as a young child. Allen has denied the claims.
His next movie will be Magic in the Moonlight, starring Emma Stone, that is scheduled to be released later this year.
Ben Brantley of the New York Times described the new musical as “occasionally funny but mostly just loud,” and that “while the movie was a helium-light charmer, this all-talking, all-singing, all-dancing reincarnation is also all but charm-free.” In the role of Cheech, the mobster with a secret flare for playwriting, Nick Cordero is “just as good” as Chazz Palminteri was in the movie.
The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney wrote that the production “is a watered-down champagne cocktail that too seldom gets beyond its recycled jokes and second-hand characterisations to assert an exciting new identity.”
Jesse Green of New York magazine wrote that “characters who seemed lovably eccentric in the movie just seem clammy and mystifying here” and Allen’s one-liners often “go dull — and take several lines.”
The Los Angeles Times’ Charles McNulty described the show as “dramatically sluggish.” Many of the performances feel “slightly out of whack,” with the exception being Cordero’s turn as Cheech. “The show has the galloping vigour of a runaway hit, if few of the ecstatic peaks,” he wrote.