Brooklyn – The Musical
Live! Original Cast Recording
Razor and Tie
I love musical theater, even after hearing a cast recording as bad as Brooklyn. And really, if you love a genre, you know some bad examples that make you cringe, whether it’s heavy metal, jazz or punk. Brooklyn does not suffer from bad singing as much as it suffers from overwrought singing of over wrought songs. I regard it as one of the worst conceived set of tunes in ages. What fills this libretto is a combination of mangled gospel, heavy-handed narration and a plot that is annoyingly maudlin, even by Broadway standards.
Brooklyn takes the form and over-emphasizes the vocal range of its cast to tell a lame story of a singer trying to find her long lost father from a fragment of a lullaby. Narrating the event is the Street Singer, Cleavant Derricks, who sounds like he’s telling a Brer Rabbit tale. The principal female vocals come from Eden Espinosa as Brooklyn, the little abandoned girl, and Ramona Keller as Paradice (yes, I spelled it correctly; she’s “street smart”). Brooklyn grows up in Paris, makes it big and comes to the States looking for daddy. She crosses Paradice, and they have a singer-take-all battle of the vocal chords at Madison Square Garden. Apparently, and this is really unclear, Paradice thinks she has the sole franchise to sing badly in New York City. Someone wins, but it’s not the audience. They experience a Faustian descent into over-ululation, climaxing on cut 21, “The Raven.” While the song sounds like a Celine Dion Titanic number, Keller’s sings as if a cat were drowning while someone crushes its tail. Yeah, I know, they rehearsed very hard, and they put their hearts and souls into this production. Sorry, guys. This ain’t a hit.