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BWW Review: BROOKLYN, THE MUSICAL at Porthouse/Kent State

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Cult favorite at Porthouse

BWW Review: BROOKLYN, THE MUSICAL at Porthouse/Kent State

BROOKLYN, THE MUSICAL, now being staged at Porthouse Theatre, on the grounds of Blossom Center, premiered on Broadway in October, 2004 and ran for 284 performances. Though the run wasn't long, and many of the reviews found the script "trite and non-realistic," it did accumulate a solid cult following.

The script centers on a play within a play in which five ragtag homeless musicians, known as the City Weeds, transform an area at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge into a performance area and present a play about a girl named Brooklyn, named after the birthplace of her wayward father who had a fling with her Parisian mother and disappeared, leaving the woman pregnant.

As the Streetsinger tells the story, "Once upon a time, a famous young Parisian came to America to search for the father she never knew. Her only clue, her name... Brooklyn. The reigning Diva of the Decade, Ms. Paradice is threatened by Brooklyn's new-found fame. She challenges Brooklyn to a Battle of The Divas at Madison Square Garden.

Brooklyn accepts hoping to deliver the father she has yet to find. Feeling the soul of the city that bears her name, Brooklyn is moved by a street performer who plays a rusty old crowbar as if it were a Golden Saxophone.

The Streetsinger leads Brooklyn to her father. She learns the truth of who he is and where he's been. Although our "Wicked Witch of The Hood" Ms. Paradice is about to wreak havoc with our heroine and her father, she doesn't mind if you love to hate her, because, after all, that's still love. Moments before showtime, the wicked Ms. Paradice confronts Brooklyn's father. She comes bearing gifts [drugs].

The Battle of The Divas begins. Ms. Paradice takes the stage. She warns America not to turn its back on her now.

Brooklyn finds herself center stage, abandoned by her father. The crowd roared, the votes poured in. Paradice Won! Brooklyn was just another face in the crowd. However, in that crowd was another face. 'So you gotta ask yourself, do you believe in happy endings?'"

Yes, the tale is convoluted and many will find themselves as lost in the tale as the Streetsinger's explanation.

The Porthouse production, under the direction of Eric van Baars, the theatre's Executive Producer, is populated by mainly Kent State students, past and present.

The cast displays strong singing voices. Kirstin Henry (Brooklyn) hits some outrageous notes, and makes "Once Upon a Time" and "I Never Knew His Name" memorable.

Moria Cary displays the right cocky attitude as Paradice and effectively sells "Raven" and "Brooklyn in the Blood."

Miguel Osborne makes for a convincing Streetsinger. His jointly sung signature song, "Streetsinger" is a show highlight.

William W. Porter nicely interprets "Love Was a Song" and "Sometimes."

The rest of the cast, Olivia Billings, Dylan Berkshire and Maria Watts adeptly sing, dance and create their characters.

The cast often find themselves in a battle to be heard because musical director Edward Ridley, Jr. and his proficient, but overly enthusiastic orchestra are too loud, playing like they are in a rock concert rather than underscoring the singers.

Capsule Judgment: BROOKLYN THE MUSICAL is not a show for everyone. The story is convoluted and the music not memorable. In spite of these flaws, the Porthouse production is good enough to make the trip out to the beautiful setting a worthwhile ride.

BROOKLYN THE MUSICAL runs through July 24. Tickets are available by calling 330-672-3884 or going to at https://www.kent.edu/porthouse/bklyn-musical


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