Zoe is pregnant, Mal relives his glory days, Kaylee and Simon want to take the next step in their relationship and Jayne… wants to become a preacher? Sounds like it could be the long desired second season of Firefly but it’s actually Browncoats: The Musical!
Produced by Tea Time for Mad Girls, this one-night-only event brought our favorite characters back to life in an immersive theatrical production at the Gemini Scorpio Loft in Brooklyn, NY. Complete with themed drinks and cookies (the latter provided by Simple Sweets by Melissa), the event was a mighty fine shindig!
This production took place about 9 months after the events of Serenity, with Zoe preparing to give birth and the crew figuring out what that meant for them in the aftermath of the political climate surrounding the events on Miranda. The musical disregarded the canonical comic Serenity ‘Verse, and instead choose to feature Mal preoccupied with re-joining the war effort. This means different things for each of the members of the crew: though Mal thought he could count on Jayne and Zoe, Jayne wants to follow in Shepherd Book’s footsteps and Zoe wants to be with her baby, even if she isn’t sure how to be a mother yet. Mal wants Kaylee and Inara safe and planetside, and doesn’t really care much where Simon ends up as long as River is expertly piloting the ship (what with her psychic-ness, and all). Simon won’t leave River and Kaylee doesn’t want to leave Simon and, despite Mal’s wishes, Inara wants to fight.
It takes the near-death of every crew member and the surprise visit of a beyond-the-grave Wash to get everyone’s head in the right place and keep them together on Serenity where they belong.
Though the set was fairly minimal with small details here and there, it worked as a representation of Serenity where actors ran between stage areas as they would do on the ship herself. However, all the running coupled with a full audience crowding a 2nd floor loft meant the venue was very warm. What’s more, the stages were not set up in such a way that the audience could see all the action. I learned later that the actors had only been to the space for the first time earlier that day. Given that, I was especially impressed with their set-up.
Browncoats: The Musical is a brand new production and that showed. Certain characters were written incredibly well, while others were portrayed superbly. I was disappointed to hear the word “damn” so many times when there’s an in-Verse alternative (gorram!). More complex characters like River and Inara had weaker writing, and unfortunately the actors’ interpretations did not feel like the characters I love.
Mal and Inara lacked chemistry, and Jayne felt a bit sassier than I was used to. However, Jayne’s acting choices were some of the strongest, especially because the actor committed to said choices. Kaylee’s writing and performance were spot-on, while Simon fumbling between his sister and the mechanic he loves brought me right back to the TV show. Zoe brought the whole production together, though I was disappointed that she was played by a white actress. At times, the singing was weak, but I do want to note the heartbreaking performance of ‘’Lullaby’’ by a back-from-the-dead Wash, which brought tears to many eyes.
This musical weakness is understandable, since this is a brand new production with little to no budget featuring volunteer performers rather than professional actors. Like most shiny Browncoat productions, the musical was more a labor of love than of cashie-cashie moneys.
Because the singing was rough at times, it did not do justice to some of the more well-written songs, for example, Kaylee’s love song to Serenity. I did like River’s interpretive dance though!
The production needs to work out some kinks if they hope to perform it again, but I was thoroughly impressed by much of what was provided and performed in this show. Plus I’ve had “Here’s to the Browncoat Cause” stuck in my head goin’ on a few weeks now… I hope to see more done with Tea Time for Mad Girls’ Browncoats: The Musical!