Foothill fires up ‘Bullets Over Broadway’

Gangsters, molls, egotistical actors, an aging diva and an aspiring playwright all add up to fun in “Bullets Over Broadway, the Musical,” presented by Foothill Music Theatre.

Woody Allen’s musical version of his and Douglas McGrath’s screenplay is well directed and aptly cast by Milissa Carey.

Set in New York City in 1929, it’s the story of playwright David Shayne (Adam Cotugno), who has yet to see one of his plays produced.

His luck changes, or so he thinks, when nightclub owner and mob boss Nick (Steve Repetti) offers to back it. There’s one caveat, though. His dumb blonde girlfriend, Olive Neal (Jocelyn Pickett), must be in it.

For his part, David says there must be no changes in the script and Helen Sinclair (Carla Befera) must play the lead. She hasn’t any juicy roles lately, so she joins in.

Because Nick doesn’t trust Olive, he assigns a henchman, Cheech (Nick Mandracchia), to make sure she doesn’t go astray.

As rehearsals begin, it’s clear that Olive can’t act, can hardly read and has a limited vocabulary.

Not only that, but the actors keep asking for changes, but David refuses. However, Cheech quietly gives him some new dialog that sounds more genuine and meets the actors’ approval.

In the meantime, David thinks he has fallen in love with Helen even though he has a longtime girlfriend, Ellen (Allie Townsend). Moreover, Olive begins sneaking off with an actor, Warner Purcell (Andrew Ross), who has an affinity for food.

Before it’s all over, several people wind up dead, and others learn a hard lesson.

Each of the principal characters seems perfect for his or her role. All are good actors and competent singers. All have good comic timing.

The music comprises familiar tunes from uncredited sources, such as “Tiger Rag,” “Up a Lazy River,” “I’m Sitting on Top of the World” and others. They’re accompanied by a six-person orchestra, including music director Louis Lagalante on keyboard.

Choreography by Claire Alexander is another high point, especially as danced by The Atta-Girls and the gangsters. The latter get lots of laughs as The Four Franks in the suggestive “I Want a Hot Dog for My Roll,” sung by Olive.

Yet another highlight is Sharon Peng’s costumes, especially for the women.

The minimal yet workable set is by Andrew Breithaupt, who makes good use of a turntable. Lighting is by Lily McLeod, sound by Andrew Heller.

Running about two and a half hours with one intermission, “Bullets Over Broadway” will continue through March 17 in the Lohman Theatre, Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills. Because of some of the language and adult situations, parental discretion is advised.

For tickets and information, call (650) 949-7360 or visit www.foothill.edu/theatre.

 

About the Author

Judy RichterJudy reviews San Francisco Bay Area theater and writes feature articles about activities of the Stanford women's basketball team and Fast Break Club. A longtime Bay Area journalist, she is retired from the San Francisco Chronicle, where she was a writer and copy editor.View all posts by Judy Richter →