04/18/2014 04:43 pm ET Updated Jun 18, 2014

The Woody Persona: Bullets Over Broadway and Fading Gigolo

In the hilarious old-school tradition, Bullets Over Broadway at the St. James Theater, based on Woody Allen's 1994 film of the same name, features a writer who makes a Faustian bargain with a mob boss, Nick Valenti (Vincent Pastore) who makes him an offer he can't refuse. Of course, Woody wrote the book for this musical, so it may not be so surprising: That David Shayne in the person of Zach Braff, frenetic, neurotic, a shpilke-ridden nerd, evokes the Woody Allen persona we have come to know and love in his films.

Who can blame his angst over having to cast Valent's talentless main squeeze Olive (Helene York), and greater insecurity when a henchman Cheech (Nick Cordero) turns out to have real theatrical flair, becoming the ghost script doctor. Under Susan Stroman's direction, the dancing girls and high-kicking mobsters, the familiar 1920's American song book, and solid cast including Marin Mazzie as Helen Sinclair, Brooks Ashmanskas as Warner Purcell, and Betsy Wolfe as Shayne's girlfriend Ellen combine for a fun entertainment: Bullets Over Broadway should join the reigning contenders for Best Musical Tony: Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, AfterMidnight, and Beautiful.

In the movie Fading Gigolo. co-starring with director John Turturro, Woody Allen is Murray, a bookstore owner turned pimp (of sorts) in the ethnic enclave of New York City, making illicit income producing matches. Murray's dermatologist (Sharon Stone) and her friend (Sofia Vergara) want to have a threesome: could he suggest someone to go in with them? This thought sets off the definitive eh, career change, involving Turturro's Fioravante, a brooding stud. Many unlikely couplings take place, needless to say, but when it comes to that Woody, his presence is reassuring.