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BWW Review: BKLYN - THE MUSICAL

BKLYN - The Musical returns in an online revival with new cast and creatives at the helm.

BWW Review: BKLYN - THE MUSICAL

BWW Review: BKLYN - THE MUSICAL After making its UK debut in 2019, BKLYN - The Musical returns in an online revival with a new cast and creatives at the helm.

Through a blend of original pop, R&B and soul numbers, BKLYN - The Musical tells the interconnecting tales of New York street artists, who meet in a neglected warehouse to swap life stories. Focus soon shifts to Brooklyn (Emma Kingston), a talented singer from Paris. Brooklyn has come to New York to find her father, whom she's never met due to her parents' whirlwind romance and a series of tragic events.

As part of her plan to find him, Brooklyn sings an unfinished lullaby at every show where she performs, hoping her father will be in the audience to complete it with her. But she soon clashes against Paradice (Marisha Wallace), an established singer on the scene who is threatened by Brooklyn's talent. Paradice challenges her to a singing competition, where the winner takes all, including a large cash prize.

Filmed at London's Ugly Duck space, the locations shift between a worn-down warehouse, and Brooklyn's experiences. Effectively portraying multiple narratives across locations and timelines is no easy task, but Dean Johnson's cinematic direction smoothly transports you across them.

The premise is compelling and cleverly explores tough themes that encompass the dark side of fame, the flipside of the American dream and PTSD. That said, the backstory of Brooklyn's parents isn't heavily explored, so her quest to find her father isn't as emotive or engaging as it could be.

Key moments feel slightly rushed. The tragedy in Brooklyn's life, as well as the reunion with her father, don't have room to breathe, which diminishes their impact.

While the storylines could do with some tweaking, the cast give exceptional performances, demonstrating electric chemistry and pitch-perfect harmonies in the group numbers.

Newton Matthews opens the show as the Street Singer, and his charisma puts you instantly at ease whenever he breaks the fourth wall. His every upbeat number has a soaring energy, while his soulful harmonies intensify the sombre moments.

Wallace's powerhouse vocals and intelligent portrayal turn what could have been an over-done villainous role into a more complex, vulnerable soul who's fighting for survival. Kingston evolves Brooklyn from an innocent and naïve girl to a fiercely confident woman by the finale. Her voice is astounding, and her solo, "Once Upon A Time", is a show-stopping number with real passion and heart behind it.

Jamie Muscato and Sejal Keshwala play Brooklyn's parents, Taylor and Faith, and give off a touching intensity even if their talents are underused.

Andrew Exeter's set and lighting designs create a bohemian world reminiscent of Rent. His scenic magic turns The Warehouse space into cafes, concert halls and gorgeous moments of fantasy. The look of the piece elevates every number, in particular "Once Upon A Time" where Kingston is surrounded by sheet music that completely covers the piano she's playing: that visual is the most stunning of all.

BKLYN - The Musical has soul, sensational star talent and plenty of energy, but needs some tweaking and development to achieve its full potential.

BKLYN is available until 4 April on stream.theatre.

Photo credit: Sam Diaz & Dean Johnson


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