"Creating Once Upon a Time": Brooklyn Begins Manhattan Previews Sept. 23

News   "Creating Once Upon a Time": Brooklyn Begins Manhattan Previews Sept. 23 Brooklyn, the new musical by Mark Schoenfeld and Barri McPherson about a group of street-corner singers and storytellers, begins performances at Broadway's Plymouth Theatre Sept. 23.
Eden Espinosa in rehearsals for Brooklyn
Eden Espinosa in rehearsals for Brooklyn Photo by Morgan Allen

Directed and choreographed by Big River's Jeff Calhoun, the musical will officially open Oct. 21. Eden Espinosa, who portrays the title character Brooklyn, is featured in a company that also includes Kevin Anderson, Cleavant Derricks, Ramona Keller and Karen Olivo with Manoel Felciano, Caren Lyn Manuel, Julie Reiber, Horace V. Rogers and Haneefah Wood.

John McDaniel provides music supervision, arrangements and orchestrations, and the remainder of the creative team comprises Ray Klausen (sets), Tobin Ost (costumes), Michael Gilliam (lights), Jonathan Deans and Peter Hylenski (sound). Song titles include "Heart Behind These Hands," "Christmas Makes Me Cry," "Not a Sound," "Brooklyn Grew Up," "Creating Once Upon a Time," "Once Upon a Time," "Superlover," "Brooklyn in the Blood," "Magic Man," "Love Was a Song," "I Never Knew His Name," "The Truth," "Raven," "Sometimes," "Love Me Where I Live," "Love Fell Like Rain" and "Streetsinger."

Brooklyn, according to production notes, concerns a band of performers, who "tell a wondrous sidewalk fairy tale about a young girl searching for fame and the father she never knew. With just one clue to lead her, she lands in the city that bears her name, Brooklyn."

The show, in fact, echoes the experiences of composer Mark Schoenfeld, who once lived on the streets of New York. He scraped by singing on the corners of its famous avenues, using what little money his talents collected him to buy food and life's other necessities. And, he and his collaborator, Barri McPherson, share far more than the theatre piece they have created.

The pair worked together briefly years ago when Schoenfeld, after hearing McPherson sing at a Big Band concert in New England, asked her to record one of his songs. They worked in a recording studio for a single day, promising each other they would work together again in the future. Nine years later — as McPherson was on her way to a private party she was to perform at in Brooklyn Heights — the sounds of a street singer caught the wind and, more importantly, her ear. It was Mark Schoenfeld, whose song she had recorded years ago.

McPherson swept Schoenfeld up and brought him to her home and welcomed him into her family. The songs they began writing together during that time, initially intended for McPherson to perform, have become the framework for Brooklyn.

The Plymouth Theatre is located at 236 West 45th Street. During previews Brooklyn will play Monday-Saturday evenings at 8 PM, with Saturday matinees at 2 PM. After opening, show times are Tuesdays at 7 PM, Wednesday-Saturday nights at 8 PM, with Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2 PM, and Sundays at 3 PM. Tickets are priced $25-$95.

For more information or a preview of Brooklyn's score, visit www.brooklynthemusical.com.

Eden Espinosa (left), Karen Olivo, Kevin Anderson, Ramona Keller, and Cleavant Derricks in rehearsals for <i>Brooklyn</i>
Eden Espinosa (left), Karen Olivo, Kevin Anderson, Ramona Keller, and Cleavant Derricks in rehearsals for Brooklyn Photo by Morgan Allen