Brooklyn, which features direction and choreography by Big River's Jeff Calhoun, was penned by Broadway newcomers Barri McPherson and Mark Schoenfeld. The latter, a Brooklyn native, found himself homeless at one point in his life and survived by singing on the streets of New York, using the money he collected for food and life's other necessities.
HELP USA, which aims to help homeless individuals become self-reliant through the development of "quality housing, job training and placement programs." In fact, throughout the year, Brooklyn will continue an on-going relationship with HELP USA and Kenneth Cole Productions; Kenneth Cole has been a board member of HELP USA since its 1987 inception.
In a statement Mario Cuomo Cole, a chairperson of HELP USA, said, "We are so thrilled at HELP USA to be associated with such a talented group of writers and performers. This production is magical. HELP USA's mission [which] is to help homeless families achieve their dreams and regain their lives mirrors Mark Schoenfeld's own personal story and the themes in this wonderful new show." And, Brooklyn director Calhoun added, "I was always a fan of Kenneth Cole's social activism from the first time I walked by his Columbus Avenue store and saw his campaign in the window: 'We think to be aware is more important than what you wear!' We want our Broadway production to follow in Kenneth's 'shoes' and find the balance between a commercial venture and social responsibility. The fact that Kenneth and Maria Cuomo Cole have dedicated their lives to housing the homeless makes us proud to form a partnership at this time."
Brooklyn begins previews at Broadway's Plymouth Theatre Sept. 23 and will officially open Oct. 21. Calhoun directs with music supervision, arrangements and orchestrations by John McDaniel. The company features Kevin Anderson, Cleavant Derricks, Eden Espinosa, Ramona Keller and Karen Olivo with Manoel Felciano, Caren Lyn Manuel, Julie Reiber, Horace V. Rogers and Haneefah Wood. The design team comprises Ray Klausen (sets), Tobin Ost (costumes), Michael Gilliam (lights), Jonathan Deans and Peter Hylenski (sound).
Tickets for the benefit performance range from $130-$1,000. For more information call Seton Fell at (212) 400-7016 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For a preview of Brooklyn's score, visit www.brooklynthemusical.com.