Silhouette Stages’ current production of BKLYN the Musical (running online until June 13, 2021) has everything you could want in a musical: an energetic, cute, and enthusiastic cast with strong (if not always accurate) voices; musical numbers for every emotional point the story is trying to make; a sassy Black American female in a supporting role; a title that gives us a chance to cheer for the scrappy underdog side of New York City; and a scrappy, young theater company to cheer on.
I applaud Silhouette Stages, a theater company based in Columbia, Maryland, for the effort they put into getting this show up. The technical end of this show does exactly what it is supposed to do: deliver sound that is clear and multidimensional and visuals that clarify and help us follow the story. I always felt that the space between the audience and the performers in this production was believable and palpable. None of the performances felt mechanical. And all of this happened on a medium that few who were not film performers knew how to navigate a year ago. This was no small accomplishment.
The show follows a troupe of street performers telling a story about two young artists (he, American, an aspiring songwriter; she, French, an aspiring dancer). The two become lovers. Fate separates them, and the girl, who becomes pregnant, thinks she has been abandoned. She names her baby daughter Brooklyn, after the city the father is from. The grieving mother finds employment as a dancer to support the family. But, still grieving her lover’s abandonment of their family, she commits suicide onstage during a performance. The daughter, grieving her mother’s death, comes to the U.S. from France to find the father she never knew. The rest of the show consists of that journey.
BKLYN the Musical is one of those truly intentional tearjerkers in which no holds are barred in its efforts to “jerk” your tears. The show boldly announces itself as a fairy tale in which happy endings are not always going to happen. Silhouette Stage’s production of this fairy tale is performed by a troupe of enthusiastic actors. Shakil Azizi makes a most charming Streetsinger, the narrator of the story. With implausibly sparkling eyes (at one point he dons a sparkling jacket to match), he serves as our guide and moral compass through the ups and downs of the plot, at times stepping in to influence the action. Hana Tawil as Brooklyn fully embodies the Disney princess–like innocence and determination to endure the world’s cruelty in order to find her father. Anya Audette Randall Nebel is very satisfying as the cynical villain of the piece, Paradice — the American counterbalance to Brooklyn’s doe-eyed protagonist. If you thought Cruella deVille, you would not be far off the mark.
BKLYN the Musical is simultaneously modest in its story form and challenging in the demands it makes on both the performers and the audience. It is a bold choice for a community theater to undertake. I look forward to following Silhouette Stage’s next steps.
Running time: Approximately 90 minutes, with no intermission.
Patricia Anderson The City Weeds
Rich Farella Taylor Collins
Mikayla Myers The City Weeds
Shakil Azizi Streetsinger
Taina Hernandez Faith
Anya Audette Randall Nebel Paradice
Twilia Marie Duarte The City Weeds
Chelsea Majors Ramona
Hana Tawil Brooklyn
Music Direction Paige Rammelkamp
Choreography Rikki Lacewell
Directed by TJ Lukascina
Lighting Design TJ Lukascina
Sound Design Brent Tomchik
Prop Design Jessie Krupkin
Hair/Makeup Design Shemika Renee
Costumes Jacqui Maranville
Video Editor Jim Baxter
Executive Producer Jeremy Goldman
Director Mentee Jenna Buzard
Stage Manager Emilie Holmstock
Producer Rebecca Hanauer