Blige May Record Brooklyn Song; Not in Cast

News   Blige May Record Brooklyn Song; Not in Cast
Mary J. Blige, who performed at this year's Tony Awards, may record a song from the upcoming musical Brooklyn.
Mary J. Blige
Mary J. Blige

Although Variety reports that Blige is set to star in the new musical, a spokesperson for the production told Playbill On-Line that the story is incorrect. Blige has been approached to record a song from Brooklyn, the spokesperson explained, and she is "very enthusiastic about that possibility."

Brooklyn casting is expected next week, although Eden Espinosa, who is currently appearing in Wicked, has already been announced for the title role.

The Mark Schoenfeld and Barri McPherson musical will officially open its Broadway run Oct. 21 at the Plymouth Theatre; previews begin Sept. 23. Jeff Calhoun (Big River) will direct and choreograph with musical supervision by Taboo's John McDaniel.

Blige, who recently appeared Off-Broadway in The Exonerated, sang A Chorus Line's "What I Did For Love" on the 2004 Tony telecast. The singer of such songs as "Real Love," "Sweet Thing" and the title track from her debut album "What's the 411?" was discovered by current Raisin in the Sun star Sean "P. Diddy" Combs in his early years. She quickly became known for her mix of hip-hop, soul and R&B sound — earning her the moniker the "Queen of hip-hop soul." Other songs include "Not Gon' Cry," "Love Is All We Need," "No More Drama," "I'm Going Down" and "Dance for Me."

The musical premiered at the New Denver Civic Theatre in May 2003. Producers Four will produce the musical for its Broadway run. According to production notes, Brooklyn concerns "a band of soulful street-corner singers and storytellers. With a mix of pop and soul, they set their stage and tell a wondrous sidewalk fairytale about a young girl from Paris whose search for the father she never knew lands her in America, in the city that bears her name, Brooklyn."

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In an earlier PBOL interview, Jeff Calhoun discussed his love for Brooklyn. "I really believe I've been waiting and training my whole life for this project," he said. "It is that amazing mix of commerce with high artistry, and it's hard to find something that can deliver both."

Calhoun explained that the piece was initially brought to him by Paula Holt, who was the president and artistic director of Los Angeles' Tiffany Theatres. "It's written by this amazing man [Mark Schoenfeld] who was homeless, who survived on the kindness of strangers. That inspired him to write this story, and it's written from a homeless point of view about the homeless. [Schoenfeld] wrote everything — book, music and lyrics — [with his writing partner Barri McPherson]." Described as a morality tale of a "beautiful, young Parisian songstress, whose fame and fortune could not fill the emptiness of her soul," the new musical is set in Brooklyn, New York, and will transport audiences from the New York City borough to Paris and back.

An eclectic mix of soul and pop music with a bit of classic American tunes and opera thrown into the stew, Brooklyn possesses "the best score I've heard since Dreamgirls," Calhoun said. "It's a remarkable score, and I love when shows feel like they have their finger on the pulse of what's happening. I love the music of yesteryear, I really do, but I also like it when [there is music] you could actually listen to in your apartment and not have to be in the business to enjoy. I would love kids who do not live in New York and are not interested into going into show business to want to listen to this at home in their rooms. The music is just incredibly accessible. Certainly, my generation is going to love it, and I think younger people as well."

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