Mom Theatre Blogger: BROOKLYLNITE: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman
The hip, new, Off Broadway, original musical, BROOKLYNITE, is inspired by the real Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company located in Park Slope and based on characters created by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman. With book by Peter Lerman and Michael Mayer and music and lyrics by Peter Lerman (winner of the Jonathan Larson Award), BROOKLYNITE is directed by Michael Mayer.
The cast features Andrew Call (FOUND, ROCK OF AGES), Gerard Canonico (SPRING AWAKENING), Max Chernin (BRIGHT STAR), Nick Choksi (INDIAN INK, NATASHA, PIERRE AND THE GREAT COMET OF 1812), Nick Cordero (BULLETS OVER BROADWAY), Matt Doyle (WAR HORSE, THE BOOK OF MORMON), Carla Duren (110 IN THE SHADE), Ann Harada (AVENUE Q at The Vineyard and on Broadway, CINDERELLA), John-Michael Lyles (ANGELINA BALLERINA), Grace McLean (BEDBUGS, NATASHA, PIERRE AND THE GREAT COMET OF 1812), Tom Alan Robbins (THE LION KING, SUNSET BOULEVARD), Nicolette Robinson (“The Affair” – Showtime, “Hart of Dixie” – CW Network), and Remy Zaken (SPRING AWAKENING, THE ANTHEM).
In BROOKLYNITE, Brooklyn gets struck by an asteroid that releases the substance Brooklynite…which bestows those in its nearby vicinity with superhero powers of varying degrees….in this case….half a dozen take on powers. Trey Swieskowski, a hardworking hardware store clerk, aspires to join the superhero ranks. His motives are very personal. He took the helms of the family business after his parents were killed in the shop during a break-in, and the superheroes failed to intervene. Later, through his encounter with Astrolass, the most front ‘n center of the superheroes, he learns that being a superstar superhero isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Astrolass explains that sometimes you have to make choices re: whether to save a boatload of people in a perilous situation or a select few….and you have to live with your decision, knowing the outcome for some wasn’t favorable.
In part for this reason, and yearning to live a normal life, Astrolass is itching to trade in her cape for normal duds and an average existence. She connects romantically with Trey, and they inspire each other to grow and share and become their best true selves.
The actors work hard, and there are laughs to be had. But, much of Act I feels like “white noise” until the beautiful song Little White Lie. The characters, other than Astrolass and Trey lack development, so we’re not particularly vested in them. They are more like flashy, cartoony eye candy cutouts (or cutups), given their sparkly spandex outfits….though they are fun to watch….particularly the entertainingly quirky, with a belters voice, Grace McLean as Blue Nixie. Nicolette Robinson is both dynamic and sincere as Astrolass with her sweet voice and slinky presence. Matt Doyle as the geeky Trey is a good match for her, and their duets are lovely.
Harada, the spunky actress in Avenue Q who was also a hoot in Cinderella, is wasted here. And, Cordero plays it over the top a bit much at times, though he lends the dramatic tension and humor to the tale.
Act II picks things up, and then the show delivers more fully. The music in Act II is appealing, and the storyline takes on an energy as the superheroes take on their mission. My 11 year old son got a kick out of the show.
BROOKLYNITE features scenic design by Donyale Werle, costume design by Andrea Lauer, lighting design by Kevin Adams, and sound design by Kai Harada, video and projection design by Andrew Lazarow, with Kimberly Grigsby serving as musical director. It is choreographed by Steven Hoggett (THE LAST SHIP, THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME, ONCE).
Dedicated to the creation and production of daring new plays and musicals, The Vineyard has consistently premiered provocative, groundbreaking works, including Nicky Silver’s THE LYONS; Marx, Lopez and Whitty’s Tony Award-winning musical AVENUE Q; Kander and Ebb’s THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS; Bell and Bowen’s [title of show]; Paula Vogel’s HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE (1998 Pulitzer Prize); Edward Albee’s THREE TALL WOMEN (1994 Pulitzer Prize); Tarell Alvin McCraney’s WIG OUT!; Jenny Schwartz’ GOD’S EAR, Will Eno’s MIDDLETOWN, and many more. The Vineyard’s productions have been honored with two Pulitzer Prizes, three Tony Awards, and numerous Drama Desk, OBIES, Outer Critics Circle and Lucille Lortel Awards.
For more information, please visit www.vineyardtheatre.org. The show runs through March 22.