In a case of art imitating life, The New Denver Civic Theatre's first production is the world premiere of the musical Brooklyn—a story of homeless musicians bringing their talents to the world stage. Inspired by the experiences of Mark Schoenfeld, who along with Barri McPherson, composed the book, music, and lyrics, Brooklyn is a fairytale told by five street performers from the 'hood located under the borough's famous bridge.

Photo of David Jennings (Street Singer), Eden Espinosa (Brooklyn), Lee Morgan (Taylor Collins), Ramona Keller (Paradice), Karen Olivo (Faith)
Clockwise from upper
left: Eden Espinosa
(Brooklyn), David
Jennings (Street
Singer), Ramona Keller
(Paradice), Karen Olivo,
(Faith), Lee Morgan
(Taylor Collins)
Photo: Eric Weber
Using graffiti, rags and trash clothes, plastic curtains, cardboard signs, dumpster prop-boxes, and a patois that combines urban jive and inspired poetry, the players lead us on an adventure from their humble intersection to the boulevards of Paris and back again, all the while wowing us with their astounding voices, resourceful storytelling, and poignant message.

Photo of Eden Espinosa (Brooklyn) and Karen Olivo (Faith)
Eden Espinosa (Brooklyn)
and Karen Olivo (Faith)
Photo: Eric Weber
Eden Espinosa, whose vocals surely make angels jealous, is Brooklyn, a Paris-born love child named after the hometown of her unsuspecting and long-gone father. Espinosa fills our heroine with an infectious optimism and grit that provides the momentum for the drama. Karen Olivo, at first radiant, then tragic, is Faith, Brooklyn's heart-broken mother. The sinewy Lee Morgan is Taylor Collins, Brooklyn's father, who goes from an idealistic, love-struck folksinger to shell-shocked Vietnam veteran to broken-down addict.

Photo of Eden Espinosa (Brooklyn), David Jennings (Street Singer)
Eden Espinosa
(Brooklyn), David
Jennings (Street
Photo: Eric Weber
The velvet-voiced and crowd-warming David Jennings plays the wizened Streetsinger, who helps Brooklyn in her quest to find her father.

Photo of Ramona Keller (Paradice)
Ramona Keller (Paradice)
Photo: Eric Weber
Finally, Ramona Keller knocks us dead with the fast-talkin', street-smart, funkadelic Paradice, a one-time street walker who gives Brooklyn the fight of her life in the winner-take-all television talent contest that is the climax of the action.

Though Brooklyn's Denver run is seen as a shake-down for the Great White Way—it runs here through June 15th—director/choreographer Jeff Calhoun's exuberant production needs only fine-tuning. Catch this Broadway-bound pleaser. Brooklyn delivers what Rent only promised. 303-309-3773.

Bob Bows


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