While some parts of ‘Bullets’ are duds, Playhouse manages to get the job done

By Eric McCrea


Trying to catch the success of other hit musicals taken from film, The Youngstown Playhouse’s “Bullets Over Broadway” may be a sign that the trend has ended. Adapted by Glen Kelly from the Woody Allen movie of the same name, “B.O.B.” uses pre-written songs from the era to create a throwback feel.

David Shayne, played by Benjamin Mowrer, wants to get his play produced, but the only one willing to finance the production is a gangster named Nick Valenti (Alan McCreary.) The money comes with strings attached; David must cast the mobster’s loud, crude girlfriend Olive Neal, played by Makenzie Moorman.

As the cast begins rehearsing, everyone seems to have suggestions for improving the script, including the chaperone that Nick assigns to guard Olive. When opening night comes around, it’s hard to say who the real author is anymore.

Many aspects of “Bullets” echo the smashing success of “The Producers,” but this adapted film lacks an outstanding book and catchy music. Songs are crammed in wherever possible but rarely add much to the story. Strong leads made this show passable, but amateur mistakes, mostly on the technical side, were frequent.

Brandy Johanntges had an easy time with the role of stage legend Helen Sinclair. She made average songs interesting and made duets seem like solos.

Tom Kusiowski II did an admirable job playing Cheech, the tough guy who discovers a passion for art. He was funny in a subtle way and showed that he was no slouch in musicals with briefs and repeating tunes peppered throughout the show.

Annmarie Lowerre was a spark of fun as the doting and quirky canine owner Eden Brent. She was delightful every moment she was on stage and she gave the second act a boost with her song “There’s a New Day Comin’!”

Mowrer underwhelmed in some scenes, but he proved to be a great singer with his songs “The Panic is On” and his montage “I’m Sitting on Top of the World.”

Rosie Bresson was adequate as David’s not-so-faithful girlfriend. While her scenes were not very compelling, she had quite an impressive singing voice in songs such as “I’ve Found a New Baby” and “She’s Funny that Way.”

Normally a reliable fill-in actor, John A. Weber was great as the hungry Warner Purcell. He was funny without looking like he was trying, much like his character.

The Playhouse microphones cut out at inopportune times, but hot mics backstage seemed to stay on scene after scene. Follow-spot operators also struggled to hit their marks.

The ensemble seemed to have trouble selling their enthusiasm, but Kusiowski’s song “Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness if I Do” featured the male ensemble with a crowd-pleasing tap number. However, in the follow-up “Runnin’ Wild,” members of the female ensemble had trouble keeping their tap shoes in unison.

Despite some opening-night issues and a general lack of energy, The Playhouse still managed to get the job done.

“Bullets Over Broadway” will run Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. through next Sunday. For reservations, call The Youngstown Playhouse at 330-788-8739.

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