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CROSS IT OFF THE LIST

picture - Crossing BrooklynTheater Review

by Chad Menville

published November 13, 2007

 

Crossing Brooklyn

now playing Off Broadway at the Connelly Theater

through November 18

 

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge is, ideally, a pleasurable experience. Considering its limitless view, fresh air and dizzying heights, it ought to be a journey both memorable and congenial. So why then does the new modern musical Crossing Brooklyn offer less than what could be its potential support and balance?

 

Des (Jenny Fellner) and AJ (Bryce Ryness) are a young married couple, both of whom are NYC public school teachers. Crossing Brooklyn takes place approximately seven months after the 9/11 attacks and yet Des is unable to return to work, spending her days gardening in the park or at home. AJ is concerned for his wife but doesn’t quite know how to help her regain the confidence she so needs.

 

We as spectators soon become railroaded by Des’ grand funk. Get thee to a pharmacy already, for I believe some Lithium is in order! The other six actors aren’t given much to do. Regardless of their talents they loiter about, a Greek chorus, periodically moving props here and there, never given an opportunity to shine.  

 

There are further attempts at character development that nearly pan out. The most memorable exchange is between AJ and his twelve-year old student, Kevin (J. Bradley Bowers). Kevin, a bright young man who has lost his father in the attacks, draws up detailed blue prints for a tree house. Discussing the proposed tree house with AJ, something sets Kevin off. He shouts, “You’re failing me. In a time of need you’re a big fat zero!” And a moment later, “In the last twenty-four hours the reasons for building that tree house have increased exponentially!” This type of heavy-handed dialogue counteracts what is otherwise potentially excellent acting.   

 

For starters, pivoting a musical on an axis of still-healing 9/11 themes that are as highly emotionally and politically charged as this is harrowing enough. And then to practically ignore the elephant in the room (namely Des’ post-traumatic stress disorder) is to wonder why the attacks are glossed over. It is as though the audience members are taken to the eye of the storm and then left on the blink. Granted, 9/11-related themes are problematic – almost too charged to take on. In all honesty, there hasn’t been much noteworthy 9/11-influenced art – and maybe there isn’t supposed to be. So then is catharsis reason enough?

 

chadmenville @ stageandcinema.com

 

 
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