Playbill Poll: Which Actress Should Star as Diva Helen Sinclair in Bullets Over Broadway? Readers Respond

By Playbill Staff
August 18, 2013

The new stage adaptation of Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway, directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Susan Stroman, will premiere on Broadway in early 2014. With a majority of principal casting announced, Playbill.com wondered who will play theatrical diva Helen Sinclair?



Dianne Wiest earned an Academy Award for originating the role of martini-sipping, Broadway leading lady Helen Sinclair in the 1994 film. Playbill.com polled our readers via Facebook and Twitter asking which actress they would like to see take on what is sure to be one of the season's biggest diva roles.

The cast features Zach Braff ("Scrubs," "Garden State") as David Shayne, Brooks Ashmanskas (Promises, Promises; Present Laughter) as Warner Purcell, Betsy Wolfe (Last Five Years, Drood) as Ellen, Lenny Wolpe (The Drowsy Chaperone) as Julian Marx, Hélene Yorke (Grease) as Olive Neal and "Sopranos" actor Vincent Pastore as gangster Nick Valenti.

Here are some reader responses followed by our own commentary.

Esther Bonacci: Donna Murphy
Leehee Kanne: Donna Murphy!!

Tony Award winner Donna Murphy's last Broadway appearance was in the 2011 musical The People in the Picture. The veteran actress earned Tony Awards for Passion in 1994 and The King and I in 1996. 

Donna Murphy

Watch Murphy stop the show in Wonderful Town

Jim Burba: How about Lorna Luft?

Luft, the daughter of entertainer Judy Garland, last appeared on Broadway in the original production of Promises, Promises. Her credits also include the national tours of Guys and Dolls, They're Playing Our Song and Jerry Herman's Broadway Years

Lorna Luft

Watch Luft in Guys and Dolls

Nicole Davis: Beth Leavel!Ron Mulligan: Beth Leavel!
David Jude: Allen Beth Leavel!!!
Rick Skye: Beth Leavel.
Shrimani Senay:‏Beth leavel
Seth Marquette: Beth Leavel. Period.

Beth Leavel made a splash in the title role of The Drowsy Chaperone, winning the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She recently played the iconic title role in Hello, Dolly! at the Cape Playhouse and has starred in Baby, It's You; Elf, 42nd Street, Mamma Mia! and Young Frankenstein.

Beth Leavel

Watch Leavel perform "As We Stumble Along":

Aaron Heinsman: While these are all lovely suggestions, my vote is for Alison Fraser!
Chauncy McButterbeans: I have to agree that Alison Fraser would be dynamite in this role. She has a terrific sense of comedy and also seems perfect for any neurotic world that came from the mind of Woody Allen. Having played the definative Trina in March of the Falsettos supports that.
Aaron Heinsman: I vote for @alisonfraser

Alison Fraser earned Tony Award nominations in The Secret Garden and Romance/Romance. Her numerous Off-Broadway credits also include The Divine Sister, The Green Heart, In Trousers, March of the Falsettos and The School for Lies.

Alison Fraser

Listen to Fraser perform "Hold On" from The Secret Garden.

Andrew Blau: Patti LuPone
Jon Rybka-Wachhaus: Patti is the obvious choice. I mean it could be her "Norma Desmond" that she never got to play on Broadway.
Brian Cullen: Diva on Broadway = Patti LuPone. The defense rests
Pygmalion Fessas: Patti Lupone

Patti LuPone, the two-time Tony Award winner who knocked-out audiences in Evita and Gypsy, said she previously auditioned for the role. The stage veteran's resumé boasts such roles as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard and Maria Callas in Master Class.

Patti LuPone
Photo by Ethan Hill

Watch LuPone perform "As If We Never Said Goodbye" from Sunset Boulevard.

Steven Wishnoff: Betty Buckley
Andrea Mays: Betty Buckley!
Jeff Revels: Betty Buckley, of course!!!

Betty Buckley is currently in rehearsal for the upcoming Off-Broadway production of Horton Foote's The Old Friends. She earned a Tony Award for Cats and made diva turns in shows ranging from Sunset Boulevard to Carrie and Gypsy. Her last Broadway appearance was her Tony-nominated turn in Triumph of Love.

Betty Buckley
Photo by Myriam Santos

Watch Buckley perform "Memory" at the Tony Awards.

p> Janet Moskowitz: Dianne Wiest
Dawne Strehl: Wiest!
Meg Berrian: Diane Wiest!

 

Several readers hope that Dianne Wiest will reprise her performance on stage. Her last Broadway outing was All My Sons in 2008. Bullets Over Broadway would mark her Broadway musical debut.

Dianne Wiest

Watch Wiest in action in the film. 

Wade Bonds: Faith Prince

Faith Prince currently stars as Miss Hannigan in the Broadway revival of Annie at the Palace Theatre. She earned a Tony Award for Guys and Dolls. Her numerous Broadway appearances include A Catered Affair, The Little Mermaid, Bells Are Ringing, Little Me and Nick & Nora.

Faith Prince

Prince performs "Adelaide's Lament."

Michael Graves: Chita Rivera
Joe Bowman: Chita

Chita Rivera recently concluded her run in the Tony-nominated revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. A Tony Award winner for The Rink and Kiss of the Spider Woman, Rivera's numerous credits also include West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie and Chicago.

Chita Rivera

Watch Rivera in Spider Woman.

Terry Minton: Rachel York
Nathan Hinds: I think Rachel York is in need of a vehicle to expose her undeniable and incredibly unique talent. Anyone who's seen her in Anything Goes know that she can command a stage.

York currently headlines the national tour of Anything Goes as Reno Sweeney. Her Broadway credits also include the seductive Mallory Kingsley in City of Angels and blonde bombshell Norma Cassidy in Victor/Victoria. York also starred as Cruella de Vil in the tour of 101 Dalmatians and as Lilli Vanessi in the national tour of Kiss, Me Kate.

Rachel York

York in Kiss Me, Kate.

Jeffrey Polsky: Christine Ebersole
Rino C Della Vedova: Christine Ebersole.

Ebersole won Tony Awards for both Grey Gardens and 42nd Street. Her last Broadway outing was Blithe Spirit in 2009. Her Broadway credits also include Steel Magnolias, Dinner at Eight, Oklahoma! and Camelot.

Christine Ebersole

Watch Ebersole perform "I Only Have Eyes for You."

Jana Mallo: Jan Maxwell
David Bridgeford: Jan Maxwell

Jan Maxwell last starred on Broadway in the Tony Award-nominated revival of Follies. Maxwell has earned Tony nominations for her performances in Follies, The Royal Family, Lend Me a Tenor, Coram Boy and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Jan Maxwell
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

View highlights of Maxwell in Follies.

Andrew Benson: Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand hasn't returned to Broadway since her acclaimed run in Funny Girl. She recently appeared at the Barclay's Center with her new concert Back to Brooklyn and is still reported to be pursuing a film of Gypsy. The music icon's numerous films include "The Way We Were," "Yentl," "Hello, Dolly!" and "The Prince of Tides."

Barbra Streisand
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Streisand sings "As If We Never Said Goodbye."

Nathan Bottorff: Bette Midler would be so perfect for this role. Who plays a diva drama queen better? And she's got the pipes to back it up. Come back to Broadway, Bette!!!
Jerry Sammartino: Bette Midler

After a 30-year absence, Bette Midler returned to Broadway last season in I'll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers. The Tony and Academy Award winner has played "Gypsy" on screen, as well as films including "For the Boys," "Beaches," and "The First Wives Club."

Bette Midler

Midler performs "Rose's Turn."

Scott Armato: Bernadette Peters. NO CONTEST.
Brian Weiner: Bernadette!!!
John McDonald: Hands down Bernadette Peters!!!! HANDS DOWN!

Bernadette Peters hasn't taken on a major, full-out diva part since Gypsy in 2003. A Tony Award winner for Song and Dance and Annie Get Your Gun, she last took the Broadway stage in the revivals of Follies and A Little Night Music.

Bernadette Peters

Watch Peters perform "Rose's Turn."

Ross Shirley: Harriet Harris!
Tania Wilson-Benjamin: Harriet Harris

Harris currently stars as the wicked Madame in the Broadway revival of Cinderella. She earned a Tony Award for Thoroughly Modern Millie and has also starred in Present Laughter, Cry-Baby, Old Acquaintance in recent seasons.

Listen to Harris perform "They Don't Know" from Millie.

Playbill.com also received votes for such actresses as Bebe Neuwirth, Judy Kaye, Alice Ripley, Stockard Channing, Julie White, Margaret Colin, Ellen Greene, Marin Mazzie, Leslie Margherita, Karen Morrow, Glenn Close, Meryl Streep, Victoria Clark, Toni Collette, Cherry Jones, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Carolee Carmello.