WORTH A LOOK?: ****
HOW TO WATCH: Digitally until 4/4/21 at Stream Theatre, tickets
RUNTIME: 85 minutes (without interval)
One of the joys of lockdown has been watching Marisha Wallace’s star rise with her home gig, debut album and now this plum role in a little-known musical we were already familiar with.
- Read on for reasons including what to expect if you stream this version of BKLYN – The Musical
Here she has an absolute ball with the role of New York diva Paradice, pictured above, who challenges heroine Brooklyn, ‘Paris’ amazing grace’, to a vocal duel at Madison Square Garden.
We saw the European premiere of Brooklyn – The Musical at Greenwich Theatre in 2019 and absolutely loved it saying: ‘this wouldn’t have had the Broadway success it did – running for a year in 2004 and 2005 – without a hugely memorable score, a brassy sense of humour as well as a scene so moving it left us in tears.’
We thought that production had legs to transfer to the West End although it never made it and, if you haven’t caught this musical, this atmospherically filmed version is well worth your time.
It 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.
The musical opens as we meet the City Weeds, five homeless street performers, in modern-day Brooklyn whose play-within-a-play starts in Paris in 1969 when a dancer meets a musician and they fall in love.
He leaves her, she has his baby and that child, Brooklyn, is left with a haunting lullaby of a song that only her father knows all the words to as her mother leaves her.
Emma Kingston makes for a charming Brooklyn who is as comfortable at the piano as Jamie Muscato (Big Fish, the Other Palace) is at the guitar playing the father she tracks down and finds he is a drug-addicted Vietnam war veteran.
Wallace rips up the screen as the challenging Paradice (key line: ‘I was born with only a pair of dice around my neck) and Newtion Matthews makes for an engaging narrator as the streetsinger.
At a time when live theatre is an impossibility, Lambert Jackson Productions must once again be congratulated for doing something innovative which allows us to indulge our love for the stage at a time when it is only safe to do so while socially distanced.