Brooklyn Boro

Review: Bam! Musical ‘Brooklynite’ a giddy, clever show

February 26, 2015 By Mark Kennedy Associated Press
Nicolette Robinson and the cast perform in a scene of the musical "Brooklynite,” which has a 13-member cast, songs by the much-buzzed about composer Peter Lerman and choreography by Steven Hoggett. AP Photo/Sam Rudy Media Relations, Carol Rosegg
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The last time superheroes were singing on a New York stage, things didn’t go too well. Don’t let that stop you from going to “Brooklynite.”

The irresistible new musical written by Michael Mayer and Peter Lerman has everything “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” lacked — giddiness, cleverness, heart and sly humor.

The show, which opened Wednesday at the Vineyard Theatre, goofs on both classic Saturday-morning TV superheroes and today’s hip, artisanal Brooklyn. It’s got manic energy, over-the-top costumes and an infectious silliness.

Mayer and Lerman — using characters created by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman — have concocted a suitably insane story that has an asteroid, super villains and not one but two love stories. They’ve also revealed the identity of a real budding theatrical superhero in Nicolette Robinson, making her professional New York stage debut.

Robinson plays Astrolass, who was hit by rays of Brooklynite from an asteroid strike some years ago that turned her into a superwoman. Five others also had various degrees of the rays: Andrew Call plays a short order cook who christens himself El Fuego after harnessing the power of flame. Call is pure cockiness in a cape.

There’s also Kid Comet (an animated Gerard Canonico) who was a bike messenger and now is the fastest man alive. Grace McLean plays Blue Nixie, a marine biologist who the asteroid has turned into a daffy water-controlling hero. One superhero — Captain Clear — is invisible and we never get to see him.

There’s also Tony Award-nominee Nick Cordero, whose slacker character was so far away from the blast that all he has is the power to sense good parking spots. He’s dim and disgruntled, and vows to create a rival superhero bunch.

The plot ramps up when Astrolass decides she wants to retire, and a young eager store clerk names Trey (adorably nebbish Matt Doyle) tries to turn himself into a superhero so he can date Astrolass.

While the musical strips some gears trying to establish the premise, it soon starts soaring, propelled by songs such as Astrolass’ lament “Key to the City,” the duet “Little White Lie,” the vaudeville “Strength in Numbers” — with choreographer Steven Hoggett earning his pay for having three visible superheroes dancing with an invisible one — and the sexy “Let’s Be a Crime-Fighting Team.”

Lerman’s bright score shows a range of musical styles and the script is chock full of puns and jokes about Brooklyn — composting and vegan farm-to-table restaurants — as well as sight gags like the mayor of Brooklyn pulling along a podium on wheels. And Ann Harada lends the show her manic, quirky energy.

But it’s hard not to cheer the debut of Robinson, who has enough vocal skill, crime-kicking beauty and acting grace to make your knees weak. Forget Brooklynite. Now we know how Superman feels around Kryptonite.


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