“BKLYN: The Musical” is being presented by Silhouette Stages virtually on Broadway on Demand. It is produced by Rebecca Hanauer and directed (and lighting design) by TJ Lukacsina with musical direction by Paige Rammelkamp and choreography by Rikki Lacewell.
“BKLYN: The Musical” (book, music and lyrics by Mark Schoenfeld and Barri McPherson) premiered on Broadway in October of 2004 and ran for about a year. It is a play within a play, focusing on a group of street performers presenting a show about a girl, Brooklyn (Hana Tawil) who lives in Paris. The character is named after her father’s place of birth. The story follows the girl’s life from becoming an orphan to her musical success in America where she searches for her long-lost father. Her musical rival is the spicy Paradice (Anya Audette Randall Nebel), a young diva from Brooklyn. The two are thrown into a singing contest onstage at Madison Square Garden — basically a two woman “American Idol.”
This production is a rock operetta similar in style to “Godspell” and “Rent.” Most of the songs are utilized as the way of telling the story. There are three stand alone pieces (songs that could be sung in a different venue rather than as part of the show), all performed by Nebel.
Viewing this production as a virtual show actually helps the sometimes overly maudlin plot. The actors are working from their homes so there are no costumes and props. It lacks the essence of being on a street, but having it as actors thrown together on Zoom to perform this lyrical tale actually works to its benefit. It feels like a group of young people getting together to tell a story in its simplest form.
…a joyous and artful experience…’BKLYN: The Musical’ is a sweet romp…and well worth viewing.
This is an ensemble production with a few main characters. Tawil’s superb voice and her interpretation of Brooklyn brings sympathy and compassion to the character. Her best number is the song about her father, “I Never Knew His Name,” and is very touching.
Nebel is a standout as Paradice, the street-wise, money-loving, aging diva who is threatened by her rival’s success. Her numbers, “Superlover,” “Raven,” and “Love Me Where I Live,” are three standouts in the show. Nebel’s earthy voice is a nice contrast to Tawil’s and her final solo has a powerful beat.
Rich Farella plays Taylor, Brooklyn’s father. Farella splendidly tells us his story in “Love Was a Song.” Later in a duet with Tawil, they both sing “The Truth” as Brooklyn finds out about her father’s stint in Viet Nam and his PTSD.
Shakil Azizi as Streetsinger is both a narrator and a character in the story and gives a strong performance as well. “Streetsinger” is also a duet between Azizi and Tawil with backup. In the song, Streetsinger reveals the moral of this tale.
Taina Hernadez is Faith, Brooklyn’s mother, who exquisitely dances her way into the storyline. I enjoyed how the film editor, Jim Baxter, superimposed her image at various times during the show. Capably rounding out the cast are Chelsea Majors as Ramona, and Patricia Anderson, Twila Marie Duarte, and Mikayla Myers as The City Weeds.
Lukacsina’s direction keeps the pace moving and his decision to take out some of the ultra-sugary visuals helps the play from becoming schmaltzy. Laceswell’s choreography also adds a cheeriness without being sappy. Rammelkanps’s musical direction must have been one of the harder elements, keeping everyone in tune and on key from all those different locales. Jim Baxter’s video editing is visually appealing and helps keep this production a joyous and artful experience.
“BKLYN: The Musical” is a sweet romp for a warm, June night and well worth viewing.
Running Time: One hour and 30 minutes with no intermission.
“BKLYN: The Musical” runs online until June 13, 2021, Friday and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm. For tickets, go to this link. For more information on Silhouette Stages (which will return to live performances in this fall), go to their website.