I almost felt like every time I was walking through the Union Square subway station that the TMA was telling me to go see Brooklynite. I kept seeing the ads on the new interactive maps at 17th street. I know I had to get a ticket quickly, since the show had only been extended through March 29th. Little did I know how creative and brilliant this show was going to be. With a book by Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening, Hedwig & the Angry Inch, American Idiot) and Peter Lerman (Modern Family), I knew that the show was going to be good.
I found it hard to believe that I’d never seen Matt Doyle in a Broadway show until this night! (I originally started following him since he was dating Ryan Steele and I was deep in my Newsies fandom. Then I became a fan of him in his own right; through Book of Mormon and his friendship with Beth Behrs from 2 Broke Girls.) Brooklynite would be my first time seeing him live and was also another opportunity to see Ann Harada, who originated the role of Christmas Eve in Avenue Q and who is one of my Asian-American theatre role models.
Brooklynite is the story of Trey Swieskowski (Doyle), whose parents were lost in a robbery of their hardware store in Brooklyn. This is a futuristic version of Brooklyn, where after the “Gowanus Asteroid” fell it created six superheroes that protect the borough from everyday crimes. The six superheroes have various powers and have been saving Brooklyn for the past ten years. Trey longs to be a superhero, because maybe then he could have saved his parents, and wants to join the Legion of Victory. The Legion is made up of Astrolass (Nicolette Robinson, Hart of Dixie), Kid Comet (Gerard Canonico, Spring Awakening OBC, American Idiot, Bare: The Musical), El Fuego (Andrew Call, American Idiot, Rock of Ages), Blue Nixie (Grace McLean, Sleep No More), Avenging Angelo (Nick Cordero, Bullets Over Broadway) and Captain Clear (voiced by Max Chernin).
Ann Harada plays several roles, but mainly as Professor Whitman at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, where she instruct several science students, Marcus (Max Chernin), Sunil (Nick Choski), Paula (Carla Duren, Hairspray), Herbert, (John-Michael Lyles, who looked so familiar to me and I can’t figure out why) and Mallory (Remy Zaken, Spring Awakening OBC), in hopes of winning a big science grant and gaining fame. When Trey bursts into her laboratory to try and get his proposal for Brooklynite in the running for this grant, Professor Whitman will have none of it. Determined as ever Trey finds a way to get Professor Whitman’s signature and enters the grant competition.
We learn that Astrolass is growing tired of being a superhero and when she finds about Trey’s proposal and how it will create the ability to turn himself into a superhero, she assumes a human disguise (Astrid) and a job at a research foundation to fast-track Trey’s proposal and research. Through their interaction, Astrolass/Astrid and Trey have several flirtatious interactions, as he quickly realizes her true identity, but wants to come off as a cool guy.
After Astrolass has decided to leave the Legion, the remaining members struggle to find a new leader. El Fuego & Blue Nixie try to fight off their attraction to each other; Kid Comet tries to take over the rest of the Brooklyn territory to keep all of the citizens safe, along with Captain Clear. But it’s Avenging Angelo who begins to feel left out, he has the weakest superpowers (finding empty parking spaces), and leaves the Legion to start his own new superhero group as Venge. As Act One closes, Venge has found out that Trey successfully recreated Brooklynite and enlists the students of Professor Whitman to help him steal the Brooklynite and use it to gain better superpowers.
As Act Two opens, Trey is dejected as he has lost the Brooklynite and in the process, the stone has absorbed all of Astrolass’ powers, giving her what she dreamed of, normality. Determined to regain power of the Brooklynite, Astrolass and the remaining Legion members devise a plan to try and get the stone back from Venge.
The Legion conveniently reminds Astrolass of Venge/Angelo’s crush on her and how she can use her womanly ways to try and regain the stone and learn of his plot (superhero clichés state that all good villains must divulge their plots at some points in their storyline). Venge then learns of the Legion’s plan and takes Astrolass as his prisoner and has his team of students build him an orb, which he needs so he can absorb all the powers of the Brooklynite.
Trey appears to save Astrolass with help from the Legion and comes up with a way to convince Venge to let him get into the orb together. However, when the explosion hits, the powers are dispersed to all of the students, outside of the orb, leaving Trey & Venge powerless.
In the near future, Trey turns his parents’ shop into a Superhero Supply store (The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store: http://www.superherosupplies.com/ - which inspired this show), and wins his girl. Trey is content helping supply materials to all of Brooklyn’s new superheroes and does so with Astrolass along his side.
I was awed by the number of OBC members from Spring Awakening in the show, but with their connection to Michael Mayer, I’m sure it was easy to recruit & cast them. There was an air of familiarity to me with almost the whole cast, since I saw American Idiot several times and I had the privilege of seeing Nick Codero in his Tony Nominated role in Bullets Over Broadway last year. Even the supporting players, like Carla Duren, John-Michael Lyles, Max Chernin, Remy Zaken and Nick Chokski had their great moments to shine. Each of them had a reoccurring gag or prop that helped them relate to the audience and kept the story moving (Poor Herbert!).
I also enjoyed the choreography/movement in the show and recognized some of Steven Hoggett’s work from other shows of his that I have seen, like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, The Last Ship, The Glass Menagerie, Rocky, American Idiot and Peter and the Starcatcher. There were no “big musical numbers,” but the movement was subtle and moving to perfectly fit with Lerman’s score and Mayer’s story.
I have hopes that this show will get a Broadway debut in the near future, perhaps at New World Stages? Until then, I only wish I lived closer to Seattle, since Matt Doyle will be there for the next few months performing in Jasper in Deadland, but I’m sure he’ll be back to the Great White Way soon and further cement by Broadway crush. Just another reason for me to see more shows!
1. Hardware Store Math
2. Cape Action Suite
3. Key to the City
4. Lab Fugue
5. The Science of Flight
7. They Meet
8. Little White Lie
9. The Plan
10. Hello, Brooklynite
1. Brooklyn Without Superheroes
2. Strength In Numbers
3. Z Over X
4. I Am Not The Hero
5. Hey There, Venge
6. Let’s Be A Crime-Fighting Team
9. The Rescue Waltz