Brooklyn The Musical

Set in the shadow of Brooklyn Bridge on a shabby corner, Brooklyn The Musical is a play-within-a-play staged by a rag-tag bunch of street performers who call themselves the City Weeds. Described throughout as a ‘fairy tale’, they’re here to tell us the story of Brooklyn (Hiba Elchikhe), a Parisian ‘orphan’ whose mother Faith (Sabrina Aloueche) hung herself after the disappearance of her American father Taylor (John Addison), presumed dead in the Vietnam War. Brooklyn discovers she has a prodigious singing talent that takes her to New York in search of who her father was. And this is just the first twenty minutes or so.

The cast and creative team are doing some of their best work – I just think they’re doing it in the wrong show.

Brooklyn’s arrival and rising fame in the New York borough that she was named after causes conflict with fading diva Paradice (Emily-Mae) who challenges our heroine to a winner-takes-all sing off at Madison Square Gardens. But where’s the jeopardy? If Brooklyn wins the contest she says she’ll give the money to charity; if she loses, well, meh.

I wanted to love it. Justin William’s set design is gorgeous and detailed – highly ambitious for Greenwich. Jack Weir’s lighting is clever and cuts no corners. Andrew Johnson’s sound is crystal clear, balancing the live band with the vocals perfectly. And talking of the band (hidden behind a cloth, stage right), there’s six of them! Rarely do we get treated to such indulgences away from the West End. The high production values are obvious but not gaudy; the cast and creative team are doing some of their best work – I just think they’re doing it in the wrong show. There’s probably a reason this hasn’t played in Europe since it closed on Broadway in 2005.

The first act is thick with exposition. The conceit of a play-within-a-play partly excuses this, as a street singer (Andrew Patrick-Walker) narrates us through the backstory, but it’s still a bit of a slog through. Then there’s Mark Schoenfeld and Barri McPherson’s heavily vocalised score which is loud and sung with admirable passion, but just a bit too saccharine and relentless in an X-Factor wannabe kind of way. The second act gets better, with songs in a more traditional musical vibe and one particularly note-stretching number that Jennifer Hudson would be proud of, but I never really found a connection with misty-eyed Brooklyn who’d found success before the end of Act I and her panto villain counterpart Paradice, who was never a threat anyway.

There’s a twist at the end (that in true reviewer’s code I can’t reveal), but it just raises a thought that either there’s more to Brooklyn’s story that we weren’t told, or she never really loved her father anyway. So much for a happy ending.

Reviews by Pete Shaw

Good Grief

★★★★
The Phoenix Arts Club Facebook Live Page

Live From The Phoenix Flat

★★★★★
Crescent - The Vaults

Over My Dad's Body

★★★★
Greenwich Theatre

Sleeping Beauty

★★★★★
Christmas in Leicester Square

La Clique

★★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

BROOKLYN originally opened in Denver in 2003 before transferring to New York in 2004 starring Kevin Anderson, Eden Espinosa and Karen Olivo. This September, the European Premiere will open at Greenwich Theatre, starring Hiba Elchikhe (direct from playing Princess Jasmine in the Australian Premier of Disney's ALADDIN) and John Addison (direct from his hilarious turn as Theo in the West End production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's SCHOOL OF ROCK).  

The show also features Andrew Patrick-Walker (Bat Out of Hell), Sabrina Aloueche (We Will Rock You) and Emily-Mae (The Producers). 

BROOKLYN THE MUSICAL is a story within a story. A touching ‘sidewalk fairytale’ about a band of soulful street singers who meet up to share stories from their lives. The story tonight: a young Parisian coming to America to search for fame and the father she never knew and the journey she embarks upon to find the soul of the city that bears her name.

With an incredible mix of rock, pop and soul -- and featuring the smash hit songs 'Once Upon a Time', 'I Never Knew His Name', 'Superlover', 'Raven' and 'Heart Behind These Hands' -- these stories interweave to create an inspiring and touching musical that celebrates the high-spirited energy of New York City.

 Brooklyn has a book, lyrics and music by Mark Schoenfeld and Barri McPherson. The duo wrote the musical after Schoenfeld fell on hard times and McPherson, a friend from his past, heard him singing on the street one day. She invited him to live in her home and the two of them subsequently wrote Brooklyn.

Most Popular See More

Come From Away

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £31.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £37.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £31.00

More Info

Find Tickets