Will the Woody Allen Scandal Torpedo ‘Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical'?

Will the Woody Allen Scandal Torpedo 'Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical'?

Dylan Farrow's claims against Allen has the theater community tied up in knots

Woody Allen is at the center of a scandal that could shoot out the lights on “Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical.”

Dylan Farrow's shocking and vivid recollections of alleged abuse at the hands of her adopted father has propelled the story of Allen's messy break-up from Mia Farrow and charges of sexual assault back into the national conversation just as the show is gearing up for its premiere this spring.

Allen denies the charges and called them, “disgraceful,” but they have thrust the director, the allegations and his marriage to Farrow's adopted and decades-younger daughter Soon-Yi Previn into the media glare.

The claims are decades old, but they have never been recounted in such detail by Dylan herself, and their appearance on the blog of Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof gave them wider reach and heft.

Also read: Woody Allen Fires Back on Dylan Farrow Molestation Allegations: ‘Untrue, Disgraceful’

At this point, it's unclear how the revived charges will affect the Broadway adaptation of Allen's 1994 film starring Dianne Wiest and John Cusack. Privately, a few producers, theater executives and publicists expressed shock over the charges. Publicly, they declined to go on the record, admitting they wanted to steer clear of the controversy.

A spokesman the show's producers declined to comment and referred requests to Allen's personal publicist.

Allen co-wrote the script, and his involvement likely helped attracted show backers. If a New York Daily News report from January is to be believed, producers were sufficiently concerned that Mia Farrow and son Ronan Farrow's public comments about the child molestation claims would hurt ticket sales that they met to discuss a plan to de-emphasize Allen's name in promotional materials (it's still there).

Also read: Cate Blanchett Responds to Woody Allen Sex Abuse Charges — But Will It Hurt Her Oscar Chances?

The adaptation of Allen's Oscar-nominated 1994 comedy was always going to have its challenges. Its biggest star Zach Braff is a “name,” but in the theatrical firmament he's relatively untested and not as well known as some of the Hollywood talent who routinely hit the Great White Way. Likewise, the list of musical adaptations of films is a mixed bag. For every Tony-winning hit such as “Hairspray” or “The Lion King,” there's a box office dud such as “Catch Me if You Can” and “Urban Cowboy.”

“Bullets Over Broadway” faces an additional hurdle. The film was a hit with critics and won an Oscar for Wiest, but it only made $13.3 million at the box office, failing to recoup its production cost. Given that twenty years have passed since it was in movie theaters, re-acquainting audiences with a film they might never have seen to begin with was always going to be a challenge regardless of the sex scandal that erupted last weekend.

Then there's the make-up of Broadway audiences, which tend to be middle-aged females from out of town. Sixty eight percent of ticket buyers were women last year and 66 percent were tourists, according to data from the Broadway League.  The average Broadway theater-goer was 42.5 years old.

With a month to go before previews and two months before opening night, it's possible that the furor over the sex assault allegations will dissipate. It's also, as one astute Broadway observer noted, the case that many audience members have successfully compartmentalized Woody the artist as existing independent of Woody the man. After all, Allen has churned out nearly a film a year, earning Oscars and acclaim.

Two of his most recent efforts, “Midnight in Paris” and “Blue Jasmine,” were among his most successful pictures  to date. “Bullets Over Broadway” could continue the hot streak if the show is funny enough to convince audiences to abandon any preconceptions about its writer at the theater door.

  • hupto

    You seem to have forgotten the existence of VHS/DVDs and cable television. Many more people have viewed the film in the intervening two decades than originally saw it in theatres, especially after it received seven Oscar nominations (with Wiest winning). The show still faces some hurdles, but lack of awareness of the source material will not be one of them.

  • spike

    More aptly titled, “Child buttocks over Broadway.” come on prosecuors, what are you waiting for?

    • hupto


  • David

    Will The Wrap continue to sink to the level of tabloid journalism, thus damaging their brand in the eyes of the town?

    • Brent Lang

      What's tabloid about this?

      • Calmdown

        Well, let's start with the very first sentence: “Dylan Farrow’s claims against Allen has the theater community tied up in knots.”
        How is this true? What proof do you have? All you can say is that a few people (privately, of course) expressed shock over the charges. Um, so what? Wouldn't anyone? And how does that make the entire theater community tied up in knots? This article is sensationalism. You should be ashamed.

  • Calmdown

    Is there any actual news in this article? NO. It's conjecture written by an alarmist. I might as well be reading the National Enquirer.

  • HelenNPN

    They will stay away in droves, just watch. Women will not buy tickets to support the man that said this stuff:

    Woody Allen’s Obsessive Theme – Child Love

    Audience Question: Would you accept the vice presidential nomination…
    Woody: I’m apolitical. I have no political convictions whatsoever. I’m a registered pervert. – “Question and Answer Session,” Monologue 1964

    Fielding Mellish: I’m doing a socialogical study of perversion – I’m up to child molesting. – Bananas, 1971

    Father Andre – “I have lived many years and, after many trials and tribulations, I have come to the conclusion that the best thing is…blond twelve-year-old girls. Two of them, whenever possible”? – Love and Death 1975

    Woody Allen: I mean, if I was caught in a love nest with fifteen 12-year-old girls tomorrow people would think, yeah, I always knew that about him. – 1976 Interview
    Rob: “Twins, Max! 16 years-old. Can you imagine the mathematical possibilities?” – Annie Hall 1977

    Isaac Davis: I’m dating a girl who does homework! – Manhattan, 1979

    1980 essay “Retribution,”Allen wrote about a gross love triangle that he will actually find himself in years later: “I am in love with two women, a not terribly uncommon problem. That they happen to be mother and child? All the more challenging!”

    MICKEY: Why all of a sudden is the sketch dirty?
    ED: Child molestation is a touchy subject…
    MICKEY: Read the papers, half the country's doing it!
    ED:Yes, but you name names. – Hannah and Her Sisters, 1986

    “I didn't feel that just because she was Mia's daughter there was any great moral dilemma,” the actor-director said. Time Magazine, Aug. 31, 1992

    Honeymoon Motel, a one-act play produced in 2011:
    FAY:I was a little girl. I had an Uncle Shlomo…
    NINA: Oh Mom!
    FAY: Three fingers, he tried to molest me. Suddenly, three fingers I feel fondling me—

    Stardust Memories (1980), the Allen character, Sandy, talks with his lover Dorrie about her father

    SANDY: What about you? Did you have a little crush on him? You can admit this to me if you like.
    DORRIE:Sure, we had a little flirting.
    SANDY:A little small flirt? Mother away getting shock treatment, and the only beautiful daughter home. Long lingering breakfasts with Dad.