Off Broadway Review: Superhero Musical ‘Brooklynite’

Brooklynite review musical

There’s not much to “Brooklynite,” the new musical about a hardware store clerk named Trey Swieskowski (Matt Doyle) who wants to be a superhero in a world in which the titular New York City borough is protected by a caped team called the Legion of Victory. But as written by Peter Lerman and Michael Mayer (director of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”) and directed by Mayer, “Brooklynite” makes it quite clear that Brooklyn is heaven on earth. If you’re following the logic rather than the contrived complications of the plot, this means that there’s no way for the Legion of Victory to improve on perfection — and surely no need for another superhero like Trey, who, like the rest of them, is no great shakes at singing or dancing, anyway.

“I have this need to be a part of superhero lore,” Trey sings (shakily) in the first of 18 musically monotonous songs with music and lyrics by Lerman. That would make him part of a Legion that includes El Fiego (Andrew Call), Blue Nixie (Grace McLean), Kid Comet (Gerard Canonico), Avenging Angelo (Nick Cordero) and their sassy, sexy leader, Astrolass (Nicolette Robinson). There’s actually a sixth member of this tribe, Captain Clear, but he’s invisible, so Andrea Lauer was spared the task of creating yet another self-consciously amusing costume.

This colorful band earned their heroes’ wings by cleaning up street crime and grime and transforming Brooklyn into an urban Utopia. To be sure, there’s a sprinkling of gentle inside jokes about the natives and their quaint customs. For one thing, the application for the Food Co-Op is 35 pages long (ha ha). And any time some borough-wide project is announced, some wag is sure to ask whether that includes the elitists in Brooklyn Heights.

A plot twist must clearly be manufactured so the show can get on with its lengthy playlist of songs. Happily, that life-saving chore falls to the comically gifted Cordero, who brought down the house in “Bullets Over Broadway” and who here plays Avenging Angelo, the dumber-than-dirt superhero from low-class Bensonhurst whose one and only superpower is his uncanny ability to find a parking spot.

It really doesn’t matter what contortions Cordero has to go through to keep this show alive. But it’s worth noting that the raucous belly laughs he earns are based in honest lowbrow farce and have nothing to do with the arch tone of this smugly self-congratulatory show.

Off Broadway Review: Superhero Musical ‘Brooklynite’

Vineyard Theater; 138 seats; $85 top. Opened February 25, 2015. Reviewed Feb. 23. Running time: <strong>TWO HOURS</strong>.

  • Production: A Vineyard Theater presentation of a musical in two acts with book by Michael Mayer & Peter Lerman, music & lyrics by Peter Lerman, based on characters created by Michael Chabon & Ayelet Waldman.
  • Crew: Directed by Michael Mayer. Choreography by Steven Hoggett. Sets, Donyale Werle; costumes, Andrea Lauer; lighting, Kevin Adams, sound, Kai Harada; video & projections, Andrew Lazarow; music director, Kimberly Grigsby; orchestrations by Peter Lerman; production stage manager, Lisa Iacucci.
  • Cast: Matt Doyle, Tom Alan Robbins, Andrew Call, Grace McLean, Gerard Canonico, Nick Cordero, Nicolette Robinson.
  • Music By: