Sunday, February 22, 2015

Brooklynite **

This new musical about superheroes in Brooklyn, now in previews at the Vineyard Theatre, has lots of talent behind it. Composer/lyricist/ book co-author Peter Lerman has won both a Jonathan Larson Award and a Stephen Sondheim Young Artist Citation. Director and book co-author Michael Mayer brought us “Spring Awakening.” Choreographer Steven Hoggett’s many successes include “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” and “Once.” The story is based on characters created by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman. The cast includes Nick Cordero, so impressive in “Bullets over Broadway,” and the always entertaining Ann Harada. The production is lavish by Vineyard standards. Donyale Werle’s modular set creates several diverse locales, Andrea Lauer’s superhero costumes are wonderful, as are Andrew Lazarow’s projections. With all this talent, why did I find the show curiously flat and uninvolving? I think the main problems are the book and the music. The story of six superheroes created when an asteroid hit Gowanus and the nebbishy hardware store clerk who would like to join their ranks works better for a comic book than an off-Broadway musical. Except for a couple of songs, the music seemed merely serviceable. The cast, led by Matt Doyle and Nicolette Robinson, do their best to animate cardboard characters. The other recent musical about Brooklyn, “Fortress of Solitude,” was superior in every way. With its story of Brooklyn superheroes and in-jokes about that borough, this show might have been more suitable for some Williamsburg venue than for the Vineyard. I think a younger audience would appreciate it more. Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes including intermission.

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