Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 10:40 am est

‘Bullets over Broadway’ fails to hit bullseye

Posted on April 17, 2014 | by Alys Murray


watch a piece of theater that misses the mark, especially when it comes close to realizing its goals. Unfortunately “Bullets Over Broadway,” the newest Broadway musical from director Susan Stroman, is one of these plays that did not hit the bullseye. The combination of Woody Allen’s witty and colorful book with a tired score piled together from the American Songbook creates a feeling of emptiness behind the showy glitz of the visually stunning production.

On its surface, “Bullets” seems like an easy hit: it is a theater production about theater, with legends of stage and screen at the helm. On most levels, it fully uses its talent. The cast, led by Broadway newcomer and all-around charmer Zach Braff, knocks the New York quickness of Allen’s words out of the park with grace.

Helene York shines as Olive, the beautiful and talentless girlfriend of a gangster. Nick Cordero, who plays Cheech — the actual genius behind the script that Zach Braff’s character Dave has been struggling to perfect — stands out as well. These two hold their ground among stars with resumes two and three times longer than their own. They provide the heart behind what could be caricatures, humanizing even the least relatable characters.

The design, the crowning point of which is undeniably William Ivey Long’s beautiful and intricate costume work, stands out in this impressive season, even contending with technical giants like “Rocky.” And Allen’s book, bolstered by his intimate experience with penning the film of the same name, is a joy to experience.

However, Stroman’s direction could leave Allen fans feeling a bit jilted. Stroman seemed to struggle with the material at times, finding difficulty in balancing the cinematic and theatrical as well as the intimate and extravagant. Moments that had the potential to be significant were brief, while less important instances were given more time and felt instinctively wrong.

The uninspired score stitches together songs from the likes of Cole Porter and the Gershwins. The songs do not bolster interactions or serve much purpose at all — they often feel more like pieces of scenery rather than exchanges between actual people.

While “Bullets Over Broadway” could be better, it is still a funny, sweet and entertaining show. With endearing characters, witty one-liners and plot twists to send one reeling, “Bullets” earns its place in audiences’ hearts.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, April 17 print edition. Alys Murray is a contributing writer. Email her at


  • DavidFuchs

    Alys, thanks for your review. When I read, “earns a place in its audiences’ hearts,” I was relieved. I am always ready to hear some hostility, the stench emanating from Vanity Fair.

    You are, thankfully, free of it, but so many of your readers were contaminated by that rag, I want them to know *how far* Vanity Fair went!! They actually said that Woody was in counseling for sexual behavior!
    With whom, who was the counselor?
    The same Dr Coates who testified that there WAS no sexual behavior!!

    I wish I had room to expose more of their lies.

profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.