Woody Allen's "Bullets over Broadway" At Ogunquit Playhouse

Ogunquit Playhouse
NOW til July 29th $25

Real Summer Stock Theatre...


Woody Allen's

 

“Bullets Over Broadway”

(or “A Star is Scorned”)

A Review by Jason Pendergast

 

As frequent readers of my reviews (assuming you are out there) may know, I come into the plays of the playhouse as a layperson if you will.  I often have little background in the history of the shows beyond what I heard about them in advertising and what I read up in the publicity materials.   My goal of these reviews, therefore is to explain why they may be entertaining to see as opposed to how they compare to Broadway or Hollywood productions of the same title.

Case in point with “Bullets”.    My only knowledge of this show going into it was that it was a movie with Madonna and Julie Haggerty from the early 90’s.  (I saw it once years ago and all I remember is that a pet bird buys it via a mobster’s bullet.)   This (lack of) knowledge allowed me to come into this show blind, and relearn this Roaring 20’s tale of gangsters, backstabbing theater politics and “love” affairs of the various people involved.   As is the usual high standards of the Ogunquit Playhouse, the costuming, dance sequences and special effects (everything from a bullet ridden title via a machine gun to cutesy antics by a show dog) are visually and audibly impressive.  The set designs and musical numbers rival any of their other productions and the cast adds a lot to the appeal.

Several stand out performances also give this show real high marks-  Vampish, slightly mature stage actress Helen Sinclair (played by Michele Ragusa) adds the sense of how the famous (but just slowly fading) theatrical elite negotiated their roles.   (The fact that someone known as box office royalty would even consider stooping to being in this ditzy production gives us a real-world glimpse of the harsh realities of the show biz.)   The ditzy, untalented but perky gangster moll Olive (Jemma Jane) also adds a lot of humorous highlights to the show, especially the exchanges between her and the more talented seasoned actress Eden Brent (the always on-game Sally Struthers who balances her lines and sight gags yes-picking up a guy is involved- with doting over a cute dog.) Lastly Olive’s gangster bodyguard Cheech (Reed Campbell) also plays his role of talented closet playwright who murders people on the side with just the right amount of charisma that I found myself rooting for him- even as he is snuffing out his boss’s enemies!

This brings me to my only real issue with the production and since is involved the ending, you may want skip this paragraph until you see the show.  (Spoiler Alert)  The main character David Shayne (John Rochette) is just too unsympathetic for me to feel invested in, even though this is his story.   Whether it is his blowing off of his long term girlfriend Ellen (Bridget Elise Yingling) so he can focus on his play or his whinny attitude about being inflexible about his vision, he comes across more like a self-absorbed millennial than a genuine artist who is legitimately talented and should deserve our respect.  (The fact that he ISN’T talented only adds to my lack of engagement.)  The show gives us a hint of possibly doing something unique when he starts a user relationship/affair with Helen (who wants to him to change his precious script for her) and it looks like they may form a long-term codependency when Ellen leaves him for a (presumably nicer) guy.  THIS would have been a ballsy ending that may have saved the plot for me.  Instead, the script chooses to play it safe and have the “romantic” leads return to each other at the end.   A real neglected opportunity, in my opinion, since seeing how much David was completely invested in “his” vision of playwriting and very little dialogue at the end suggests that he would be willing to change even after Ellen’s second chance.  And if he isn’t invested in their relationship, why should we?

In short, “Bullets” gives the audience the escapism and comedy that the Playhouse is known for.  If you crave a slapstick musical from the roaring 20’s, this will be just what the doctor ordered.  And best of all, no pets buy it in this production!

“Bullets over Broadway” is running now through July 29th.  For tickets and show times, call 207-646-5511 or visit their website at Ogunquitplayhouse.com.


 


 


Boeing-Boeing - August 15 to September 1

This "door-slamming" farce features a man with a German, a French and an American fiance; each a beautiful airline hostess with frequent "layovers". He keeps "one up, one down and one pending" until unexpected schedule changes bring all three to his apartment at the same time. The movie version was a hit for Jerry Lewis in the 1960's and the stage version was a 2008 Tony Award winner.


Tickets and more info: http://www.hackmatack.org/hackmatack/



Presented by:

Ogunquit Playhouse

Ogunquit Playhouse

10 Main Street
Ogunquit, ME 03907
207.646.5511

Woody Allen's
“Bullets Over Broadway” (or “A Star is Scorned”) A Review by Jason Pendergast As frequent readers of my reviews (assuming you are out there) may know, I come into the plays of the playhouse as a layperson if you will. I often have little background in the history of the shows beyond what I heard about them in advertising and what I read up in the publicity materials. My goal of these reviews, therefore is to explain why they may be entertaining to see as opposed to how they compare to Broadway or Hollywood productions of the same title. Case in point with “Bullets”. My only knowledge of this show going into it was that it was a movie with Madonna and Julie Haggerty from the early 90’s. (I saw it once years ago and all I remember is that a pet bird buys it via a mobster’s bullet.) This (lack of) knowledge allowed me to come into this show blind, and relearn this Roaring 20’s tale of gangsters, backstabbing theater politics and “love” affairs of the various people involved.

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