Musical Spotlight: BKLYN The Musical
Hey guys, it’s time for yet another Musical Spotlight! This time, we’re going to feature a musical that not a lot of you might have heard of, or have just been constantly setting aside: Brooklyn the Musical
Music, Lyrics, and Book by Mark Schoenfeld and Barri McPherson.
Directed by Jeff Calhoun
Schoenfeld and McPherson had collaborated on a record more than two decades earlier but lost touch until the latter encountered her former partner singing on a Brooklyn street corner as a means of support. She invited him home to live with her and her family, and the two began to write songs based on Schoenfeld’s experiences they eventually worked into a plot.
After twenty-seven previews, the Broadway production, directed by Jeff Calhoun, opened on October 21, 2004 at the Plymouth Theatre (renamed the Gerald Schoenfeld in May 2005), where it ran for 284 performances. x
The small cast of 5, the City Weeds, included Eden Espinosa as Brooklyn, Karen Olivo as Faith, Kevin Anderson as Taylor, Ramona Keller as Paradice, and Cleavant Derricks as a street singer who acts as the narrator.
Using the play within a play structure, Brooklyn focuses on a group of five ragtag homeless musicians known as the City Weeds. The group periodically transforms a street corner under the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge into a stage where they present their play about a Parisian singer Brooklyn, named after the New York City borough from which her wayward father Taylor hailed. Orphaned when her depressed mother Faith hangs herself, the girl in quick succession is sent to live in a convent where she discovers her vocal talents, becomes a star, performs at Carnegie Hall, sets out in search of her father (who she discovers is a drug-addicted Vietnam War vet), and engages in a competition with local diva Paradice at Madison Square Garden. x
Why we love it:
The show is very different from a usual Broadway musical. A lot of people said that the concept of the show is weird, but we think it actually delivered. The songs are catchy, beautiful, and some even inspiring. Brooklyn's Once upon a time is an absolute favorite of our’s. The main set being a messy street corner and how they manage to transform these piles of ‘garbage’ into effective scenery is pretty cool. Same way as how the show’s really small, talented cast of five transforms from one character to another. One moment she’s a street singer, the next minute she’s Paris’ world renowned dancer. What a way to optimize the use of these peoples’ talents! Also, it’s pretty nice to see (or hear) Eden Espinosa in a show before all her Rent and Wicked fame, and Karen Olivo before she became 'the’ Tony winner Karen Olivo!
We suggest you listen to this show’s Original Broadway Cast recording. With the show’s play within a play concept and having the soundtrack recorded live during a performance before an invited audience, listening to it feels like actually seeing the show, only your eyes were closed the whole time. It’s quite an experience! ;)