It’s hard to believe it’s almost been a year since Lambert Jackson Productions first launched their Leave A Light On series and over the past 12 months they’ve continually come to the aid of musical theatre fans by streaming shows online, including the critically acclaimed Songs From A New World and The Last Five Years, to American musical First Date. But their latest production, Bklyn, might just be their best yet.
Dean Johnson directs this online adaptation of Mark Schoenfeld and Barri McPherson’s musical, which adopts a story within a story format. Five homeless street performers known as the City Weeds gather together at the foot of Brooklyn Bridge to share stories, one of which is a tale of a couple, Faith and Taylor Collins, who fall in love in Paris before Taylor is called to war and never returns. Years later their daughter Brooklyn arrives in New York, searching for the father she never knew, and on the way encounters fame and a jealous rival in the form of America’s ‘Diva of the Decade’ Paradice.
Filmed at the Ugly Duck in Bermondsey, Bklyn is an incredibly stylist production, with clever camera shots throughout to help transfer the action between the City Weeds and the real-life fairy tale. Sam Diaz’s slick video editing includes snippets of New York, a constant reminder of where you are. Andrew Exeter’s production design looks brilliant, and combines well with the soft, golden lighting throughout, while the costumes are beautiful.
The soundtrack is strong, with a mix of ballads, rock and R&B tunes which lead the audience on an emotional rollercoaster, and it’s brought to life with musical direction from Leo Munby and Richie Garrison on saxophone and Georgina Lloyd-Owen on cello. The jewel in Bklyn’s crown has to be its talented cast with their incredible voices. This really is an ensemble piece and there’s no weak link among the five performers – when they come together to sing it’s joyous, and their harmonies in songs like Heart Behind These Hands are musical theatre magic.
Sejal Keshwala is strong as the tragic Faith, full of energy as she lights up the screen. She has great chemistry Jamie Muscato who plays Taylor. Muscato has a fine voice and is likewise impressive throughout as the troubled man, and his performance of Sometimes really showcases his vocal talent. As the Street Singer Newtion Matthews really shines as he charms the audience, and his silky voice is incredible, his riffs so powerful. Marisha Wallace has proven time and time again that she has a stunning voice, what with her roles in hit musicals like Waitress and Dreamgirls, but her performance as Paradice is something else. She wows throughout, but her standout moment has to be her solo song Raven, while her duet of Brooklyn in the Blood with Emma Kingston is sure to set temperatures rising. As Brooklyn Emma Kingston really does excel, showing her vulnerable side as she tries to find her father, while standing up to the formidable Paradice. Kingston’s performance of Once Upon A Time has to be seen to be believed, and she’s sure to give you goosebumps as she lets out some incredible notes.
An modern-day fairytale with a touching twist, Bklyn is an enchanting production with a message of hope at its heart, and it’s all the more moving when you learn the story behind the show – Barri McPherson bumped into Mark Schoenfeld (the pair had met years before) singing on a street corner and invited him to live with her. It was then the pair decided to write this musical. With a brilliant cast and vocals that are truly out of this world, this is a magical show that will stay with you long after you’ve finished watching.
Bklyn is running until 4 April. To buy tickets visit www.stream.theatre/season/51
Photo credit: Sam Diaz and Dean Johnson