Los Angeles Theater Review: FOREVER BROOKLYN! (Whitefire Theatre)

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by Joan Alperin on January 9, 2019

in Theater-Los Angeles


What I found most amazing about Forever Brooklyn! A Kosher Musical Comedy is that the writer/director Mark Wesley Curran is not from Brooklyn nor is he Jewish or even a comedian. Yet he totally captures what it is to be Jewish and what it was like growing up in Brooklyn. I should know since I am Jewish and I did grow up in Brooklyn. While I lived there years after this play takes place, the stories are completely identifiable. At the core, some places never really change.

As the title promises, this solo show utilizes song and comedy to tell the story of Melvin Kaplofkis (the funny and endearing Danny DiTorrice), a young man growing up in Brooklyn in the 1950s who emerges the next decade as Mel King, “The King of Brooklyn.”

As a boy, Mel entertains his family and friends by telling jokes and stories. One day he gets discovered by a local radio personality and begins moving up, with gigs in the Borscht Belt resorts — aka The Catskills. It turns out, despite his mother and sister’s discouragement, that Mel actually has a flair for performing, and ultimately, he is booked for an appearance on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.

Fantastic right? Well not quite. First of all, Mel’s family doesn’t want him to leave Brooklyn. Also, against his will, he has taken a job as a bagman for the Mob, which has been ruling Brooklyn with an iron fist for many years; they definitely do not want Mel to leave. Seems Mel is the “darling” of the neighborhood and the business owners pay protection money without much protest. To make his decision even harder, Mel has falling in love. So what’s an upcoming Jewish Brooklyn comedian to do?

Well you’re just going to have to see this show to find out. DiTorrice plays all the characters deftly, including Mel’s relatives, the Mob boss, Johnny Carson, and all the other wonderful folks who make up his story. His voice, while not great, is passable — and apparently some of the Yiddish songs were quite familiar to audience members — many of them sang along.

photos by Aimee Nicolas

Forever Brooklyn! A Kosher Musical Comedy
West Coast Performing Arts Presenters
The Whitefire Theatre
13500 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks
Saturdays at 7:30
ends on February 9, 2019
for tickets, call 800.838.3006 or visit Brown Paper Tickets

{ 1 comment }

Paul Bailey January 15, 2019 at 11:12 am

Excellent review Joan. Ahhh, Brooklyn, yes and forever may it be so.

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