Fabulously entertaining fans eight times a week, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical, based on the 1994 Woody Allen film of the same name, racked up six Tony Nominations this year. The musical comedy also recently released its Original Broadway Cast Recording, featuring a score of music from the 1920s adapted by Glen Kelly, with orchestrations by Doug Besterman.
The jukebox medium is one that many fans of musicals are growing weary of; however, when you take a story that is set in 1929, it just makes sense to use the hit songs of the era. With a keen ear and impressive skill Kelly and Besterman have smartly plucked well-known popular standards and jazz hits from about 1918 to 1930, giving the members of the cast a treasure trove of giddy, toe-tapping delights to sing in the show. Moreover, on the album, Kelly and Besterman's work shines, drawing listeners into the infectious, happy-go-lucky Broadway jazz score.
Zach Braff, whom I never knew could sing, warmly handles the beguiling playwright David Shayne. His bright vocals shine on snappy numbers like the bubbly "I'm Sitting on Top of the World." He purposefully fills "The Panic Is On" with an amusing sense of manic urgency. Opposite two leading ladies, he delivers sweetly crooned vocals on the playful duets "Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me" and "She's Funny That Way;" meanwhile, he uses brash and boisterous vocals on "There's a Broken Heart for Every Light on Broadway" and "I Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle."
The show's leading ladies are a delightful duo on the disc. Betsey Wolfe, as David's girlfriend Ellen, captivates with her glittering vocals and a character that knows what she wants and deserves from the man in her life. With tangible strength and self-worth Wolfe owns numbers like "Blues my Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me" and "I've Found a New Baby." Conversely, she sings with pleasant tenderness on "She's Funny That Way." Opposite Wolfe, Marin Mazzie delivers consistently killer performances as Helen Sinclair, the aging star who romances the young playwright David. With delectable divatude and confidence, Mazzie is radiant on numbers like "They Go Wild, Simply Wild, Over Me" and "I Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle."
As the talentless actress Olive Neal, Heléne Yorke has the challenge of sounding appealing to the ear while conveying that she has no true skill. Luckily, she is handed lines like "And remember - I wanna be a star - I want to play Lady Macbeth like I did in Union City - And this time not in pasties" to illustrate Olive's caliber of acting and leave us laughing. With an appealingly awful nasal timbre, Yorke is fun to listen to on "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You." However, her true triumph is on the raucously tongue-in-cheek "The Hot Dog Song." Like the original "I Want a Hot Dog for My Roll," Yorke perfectly hits audiences over the head with the number's delicious double entendres.
Nick Cordero shows off his decadent jazz chops as the strong-arm gangster Cheech. He delivers memorable performances on the snappy and altogether fun numbers "Up a Lazy River" and "'Tain't Nobody's Biz-ness If I Do."
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The show's large cast is well represented on the album. With catchy chorus numbers and splashy dance breaks, it is not hard to imagine how Susan Stroman's work as director and choreographer is filling seats at New York City's St. James Theatre.
Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording) is a glitzy and witty production in the vein of audience favorites like The Producers. The CD radiates energy and pizzazz, features strong vocal performances that captivate listeners, and includes some of the show's punch lines.
Masterworks Broadway released Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording) digitally on June 3, 2014 and physically on June 10. The recording can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sold.
For more information about and tickets to Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical, please visit http://bulletsoverbroadway.com.