New York | 2h 35m | Already closed

These Paper Bullets!

From 40 critic and 73 member reviews
Members say: Entertaining, Clever, Funny, Delightful, Hilarious

About the show

The Atlantic presents a musical, modish ripoff of William Shakespeare’s 'Much Ado About Nothing' about a rock group from Liverpool that returns to swinging ’60s London after conquering the U.S. More…

'These Paper Bullets' follows Ben, Claude, Balth, and Pedro. The four make up the wildly popular band Quartos. Worshipped by fans, feared by Scotland Yard, and hounded by their former drummer, who is determined to destroy them, they arrive in London. In only seven nights, the fab four from Liverpool will travel to London, attempt to cut an album, and woo their way to true love. As usual, however, true love may end up making fools of them all.

NY Theatre Guide

"This 'play with music' was made for anyone who loves the Beatles and Shakespeare, and who secretly wondered what could have been if they made something together...Simply, 'These Paper Bullets' is fun. It is a great musical that is worth watching, especially because I truly believe it is bound and deserving of Broadway. Trust me, you will love this show." Full Review


"'These Paper Bullets' delightfully and successfully brings together the unlikely mix of Liverpoolian and Shakespearean dialogue. Given a cast that besides being comfortable in classic as modern roles can sing and dance, this play with music has been a hit in its previous stops...The Atlantic Theater run is again a sure-fire crowd pleaser. What would keep this from being a 10 is the failure to edit out some of over-the-top comic shtick." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Jones takes liberties with story; there are also wacky diversions into Benny Hill silliness...Snappily directed, with tremendous costumes, 'These Paper Bullets!' fizzes with the comedy of sexual liberation...Parker’s bravura physical comedy made me laugh harder than anything I’ve seen in the theater all year....The show is well acted all around, but the women are particularly fab." Full Review

Village Voice

"This version of 'Much Ado About Nothing' features toe-tapping, carbonated songs by Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong that convincingly channel the early Beatles, from super-sweet lyrics to hummable harmonies. The dialogue is a conflation of Sixties lingo and faux Elizabethan...It takes a minute to adjust to the funny, frequently raunchy banter...Occasional audience participation adds to the general hilarity...Great fun." Full Review


"Jones has a gift for reconstituting Shakespearean dialogue with just enough sampling of the real thing to keep us feeling both amused and smart. Even more impressive, each of Armstrong’s songs mimics an identifiable number from the Lennon/McCartney canon while ingeniously turning the songs inside out...The whole may not be more than the sum of its parts, but the parts positively sparkle." Full Review

Broadway & Me

"The biggest kudos go to director Jackson Gay who uses everything she can think of—terrific video projections of the period, some mild audience participation and a drag Queen Elizabeth—to create the show's jovial mood. Some of the antics are sophomoric and the show goes on longer than need be. But the unabashed desire by everyone involved to give the audience a good time left me with a grin on my face." Full Review


"The director, might have made the Act One complications more comprehensible by slowing things down, but she has gotten brilliant work from the entire cast... 'These Paper Bullets!' is lots of fun for those with a bit of patience to wade through the modern gloss to get to the Shakespearean soul of the story. Patience is rewarded with a different take on the original and a stage-full of fine performers who deliver the story with unflagging energy and panache." Full Review

Musical Theater Review

"What’s notable is the enthusiasm and freshness playwright, director and an ebulliently gifted cast have brought to the task...Director Gay adds to the jokes with a variety of sight gags. Nevertheless, there are times that the show could have used another song or two, times when the farce is extended almost to the point of running out of petrol...It hits its target with an abundance of sometimes snarky but often adorable frivolity." Full Review


"It's a heady mixture of individually powerful elements (Shakespeare, the Beatles, Armstrong) that occasionally tastes like chocolate cake washed down with Riesling — it's just too much of a sugar rush. When it gets the balance right, however, 'These Paper Bullets!' is genuinely delightful and very funny...The play may be trying way too hard to please, but that doesn't ruin the charming and timeless comedy at its core." Full Review


"The parallels work and Jones' script has clever moments, but the overwritten text is full of soggy dialogue and extended bits that aren't especially funny...The frothy direction is built on fun splashes of the mod era and the capable cast dives right in, but the indisputable highlights of the piece come any time the boys dig into Armstrong's jaunty lyrics and bouncy melodies." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"When this mod show rocks, it really rocks, but the musical numbers are so strong that there should be more...Though Rolin Jones does an admirable job, nothing beats the original. The dialogue is so on the surface that Bea and Ben's courtship isn't as satisfying. Jackson Gay's direction works especially well, but all this running around sometimes drags. That could easily be fixed with more songs. One can't help but wonder why this play with music can't just be a musical." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"This reviewer will admit that matching 'Much Ado' with the particulars of 'Bullets!' was fun for a while. Sometime before act one ends, however, Jones's striving too hard to follow the 'Much Ado' ins-and-outs began to take a toll. Furthermore, a few of the sequences stopped being laugh-provoking and become merely messily strained.... Shout-out to Jackson Gay, and the success she's had with a cast that consistently makes the hot parts hotter. " Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"All of it is piled on with dashes of cleverness, abetted by a cast giving its all, but the result is often way too much. Yet the effect is so zany that one can have a good time a good deal of the way and not care a hoot about what is being irreverently done to Shakespeare." Full Review


"The farcical elements are high points but the play is overstuffed. At two and a half hours, the novelty wears off and it becomes exhausting trying to keep up with the myriad references...Director Jackson Gay lets it all hang out for better and worse, though there clearly is method to the madness. If only there wasn’t so much of it." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"It takes a while for it to find its footing – it’s a little awkward and sluggish at first – but it gains confidence and humor as it progresses and ends on a high note. Surprisingly, the weakest link is the music…Luckily, 'These Paper Bullets' is more a play with music than an actual musical, so its melodic flaws are not fatal. The storyline, however, fueled by what is arguably Shakespeare’s most accessible comedy, exudes vivacity." Full Review

The New York Times

"A lively if labored update of “Much Ado'...The jangling rock tunes by Billie Joe Armstrong provide energizing interludes...Jolly though it remains throughout, 'These Paper Bullets!' becomes exhausting as Mr. Jones piles on the complications...What has most crucially gone missing, unfortunately, is any depth of feeling in the main characters, which becomes a liability as the show stretches to two and a half hours." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"Direction is playful and the musical numbers are a treat (though the sound mix still needs work as the vocals are often swallowed), but the evening isn’t as much fun as it ought to be...The first act in particular takes an awful long time to get going and the script hews too closely to the structure of the original when short cuts would be welcome." Full Review


"Under Jackson Gay’s uneven direction, 'These Paper Bullets' is the theatrical equivalent of the now popular 'piecaken': it puts together things that usually are served at separate sittings. And while this layer cake of Shakespeare’s 'Much Ado About Nothing,' Billy Joe Armstrong’s authentic-sounding faux-1960s tunes, and Monty Python silliness is often delicious, it can also be too much to eat at once and sometimes leave you feeling overstuffed rather than really satisfied." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"The production itself is a clownish mishmash of juvenilia, performed with all the subtlety of the Three Stooges...Gay encourages her actors to mug mercilessly as if this were a dramatization of “Twist and Shout,” the pratfalls pile up like pancakes, girls’ panties fly like snowflakes, people wear lampshades on their heads, and Bea...does a bit with a used condom she can’t dislodge from her finger." Full Review

New York Daily News

"Too bad 'These Paper Bullets!' — a riff on 'Much Ado About Nothing' by Rolin Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong — misses the mark when it comes to being fully engaging. This play with music comes off labored and overlong, despite a fine ensemble and direction by Jackson Gay, whose staging packs energy and clever live video." Full Review

New York Theater

“'These Paper Bullets,' a mash up of the Bard’s 'Much Ado' with a spoof of the Fab Four, is great to look at, with songs that are fabulous to listen to. So why did I find so much of it excruciating to sit through? The answer is the tone. In what felt like an almost desperate effort to entertain us, playwright Rolin Jones and director Jackson Gay too often effect a Monty Python-like silliness...You either find all this goofiness funny or you don’t. I didn’t." Full Review

AM New York

"The main problem lies in Rolin Jones’ labored, overlong script, which uneasily combines lines from the original text with colloquial language. It would have been better to either perform 'Much Ado' as is or use all-new dialogue. Jackson Gay’s direction is not so great. The cast tries too hard to win laughs with broad, frantic antics, and visually the production is ugly and cluttered." Full Review

The Wrap

"There isn’t enough of Armstrong’s music and there’s way too much of Rolin Jones’ book, which achieves the uneasy feat of being both amateur and frenetic. Jackson Gay directs the actors to scream and gesticulate like crazy people. Only Justin Kirk as one of the Quartos manages to deliver a somewhat subdued performance despite wrestling with a stuffed bird, among other things." Full Review


"There are lots of funny lines and the performers get fully into the mood of the zany occasion...The evening has no center, no involving bit of story to hang onto as it takes us on its roller-coaster ride. The result is that the stream of gags, goofiness, labored complications and bad poetry becomes tiresome." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Unfortunately, 'These Paper Bullets!' is not a musical, but rather a laborious farce, uneasily combining satirical riffs on The Bard with tired spoofing of The Fab Four. Since both ideas have been done to death over the years, there's little that's fresh here...The chief pleasures of the show stem from the handful of Armstrong's songs, which ape the Beatles' music. The problem is that there aren't nearly enough of them, and there's too much of everything else. " Full Review

Clever, Delightful, Funny, Quirky, Entertaining

See it if Quirky, funny, unique.

Don't see it if Don't like Beatles type music.

Delightful, Entertaining, Hilarious, Dizzying, Refreshing

See it if you're looking for a shaggy charmer-- giddy, silly, smart, wild, and tuneful

Don't see it if you'll be turned off by a little mess

Ambitious, Clever, Funny, Great staging, Original

See it if you like Shakespeare or The Beatles (it's sort of a mashup of both) and fantastic staging.

Don't see it if you don't like Shakespeare or The Beatles.

Funny, Plot could be confusing at times, Great for beatles fans, Great setting: sixties london, Original

See it if you don't mind your Shakespeare being mixed up a bit!

Don't see it if you love Much Ado About Nothing just the way it is (was). Also, don't see it if you hate the music that came out of the British Invasion.

Delightful, Entertaining, Funny

See it if Beatlemania meets The Bard. Great music and great fun! Love when The Queen is in the audience. Much Ado in Carnaby Street. Love you yeah!

Don't see it if If you want your Shakespeare to be pure or you don't like The Beatles.

Hilarious, Funny, Entertaining, Clever

See it if Hilarious modern update of Shakespeare comedy. Great Beatles style songs

Don't see it if Some parts were corny

Delightful, Clever, Entertaining, Hilarious, Original

See it if You would enjoy a silly Shakespeare spoof consisting of Beatles-style music, 60's fashion styles and fast-paced hilarity.

Don't see it if You have no patience for zany slapstick humor in a Shakespeare-style plot where romantic mishaps rule or don't like 60's pop music.

Entertaining, Clever, Funny, Fluffy, Great writing

See it if You want a good laugh with clever references.

Don't see it if You are looking for something more serious and original.

Entertaining, Funny, Great music, Great cast

See it if You like funny shows with great music or like the 60s (music, fashion, celebrity) It's a lot of fun! The women are particularly hysterical!

Don't see it if You don't like over the top shows. It's a farce of the 1960's, the Beatles, fashion, twiggy, etc. It's very well done but 20min too long.

Great writing, Funny, Refreshing, Original, Intelligent

See it if you want to see a delightful interpretation of a classic Shakespearean play set to incredible Beatles-esque music by Billie Joe Armstrong

Don't see it if You don't want to have to actively listen to the words cause though they have modernized the text, it is written in the vein of Shakespeare

Funny, Quirky, Hilarious, Musical, Great costumes

See it if Love the Beatles and Shakespeare, appreciate the music of Billie Joe Armstrong, and enjoy physical comedy. Very funny.

Don't see it if Accents are tricky and sometimes make it hard to hear. If you don't like long shows, since this is 2.5 hours.

Funny, Entertaining, Delightful, Fun

See it if you like to have fun & listen to fun beatles-like music.Loosely based on Much Ado About Nothing. Some lines taken verbatim from the original

Don't see it if you are a Shakespeare purist.

Funny, Swingin' sixties, Entertaining, Clever, Good "not a musical" music

See it if You like innovative takes on Shakespeare (this is Inspired by Much Ado), want a fun night at the theater (great date show)

Don't see it if You are turned off by Shakespearean language, zaniness, or impious takes on the Beatles

Witty, Entertaining, Funny, Great costumes, Fluffy

See it if You love Much Ado About Nothing (which I do) Looking for some just plain fun

Don't see it if You are looking for something serious or tight

Confusing, Clever, Original, Slow

See it if you are a fan of any of the stars, or if you want to see a new treatment of "Much Ado about Nothing," or if you like "Beatles" type music.

Don't see it if you aren't overly familiar with "Much Ado," and don't have a lot of patience for narrative confusion and pacing issues.

Original, Well-acted, Funny, Entertaining, Clever

See it if you like plays based on Shakespeare's. I had a great time, but if you don't know the premise you might not stay for 2nd act -- but DO.

Don't see it if you're not that keen on Shakespeare. This clever updated version of "Much Ado About Nothing" is fun, but some familiarity is helpful.

Clever, Funny, Entertaining, Delightful

See it if you love Shakespeare and the Beatles

Don't see it if You loathe the Beatles or music from the 60s

Absorbing, Clever, Funny, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if If you want to see something fun, lively and colorful. The cast looked like they were having a great time. Very well staged.

Don't see it if You are expecting the punky music that normally comes from BJ Armstrong. This ain't Green Day. The songs are very Beatle-esque.

Ambitious, Hilarious, Energetic

See it if Much more fun than I expected! I was surprised it didn't continue. After I saw it the performances mostly sold out. Silly, but fun.

Don't see it if You don't like Monty Python type humor.

Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you like the beatles and enjoy a light off broadway musical

Don't see it if you dont like the beatles and dont like silly light hearted shows

Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Quirky

See it if You love the Beatles and the Bard, in that order. I do wish they had fully committed language-wise to one style though.

Don't see it if You don't like mixing britpop with Shakespeare.

Great costumes, Funny, Entertaining, Clever, Great singing

See it if you like musical songs written into the dialogue.

Don't see it if don;t like the Beatles or Beatles themed plays.

Expected more, Clever, Confusing, Overrated

See it if I saw a preview, perhaps it improved. But I found it flat and draggy.

Don't see it if You loved American Idiot and expect that level of music and intensity.

Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Great music, Original

See it if You're only a fan of Shakespeare when it's completely deconstructed. And if you like to see a good old fashioned raunchy slapstick

Don't see it if You consider yourself a Shakespeare fan or if you like to keep your comedy above the Noel-Coward line

Clever, Entertaining, Harmless, Fluffy, Quirky

See it if it is a cross between much ado about nothing and beatlemania - if you like that combo then this is for you

Don't see it if silly antics with a dose of slapstick is not your idea of good theater

Cast & Creatives (25)