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Review: Sing Street at New York Theatre Workshop

In the economically depressed Dublin of the 1980s, against the backdrop of the Irish Sea, Conor (Brenock O'Connor) and his family have hit hard times. His father, Robert (Billy Carter), is an architect unable to find work; his mother, Penny (Amy Warren), is working part-time while engaging in an affair with her boss; his sister, Anne (Skyler Volpe), is unhappy in her chosen degree program; while brother Brendan (Gus Halper) has become a shut in after dropping out of college.

When Conor's parents transfer him to the Christian Brothers school on Synge Street to cut costs, he is immediately met with trouble from Brother Baxter, who runs the school, for not having the right colored shoes. However, it is when he meets the mysterious Raphina (Zara Devlin), who has dropped out of school to do some modeling, that he decides what he wants to do in his future at school. Seeing that she calls herself a model, Conor asks her to be in a music video for his band. She agrees, though there's only one small issue. There's no band and there's no song. But that won't take too long to sort out.

Not long after, Conor meets Darren (Max William Bartos), who describes himself as a business solutions specialist. He's able to quickly round up a group of boys for Conor's band, including Eamon (Sam Poon), to help write their songs. And what started as a way for Conor to talk to Raphina more often also becomes a protest against Brother Baxter for the boys as they take over the school to shoot a later music video, though Conor and Raphina do begin to fall in love.

Almost the entire cast is made up of actor/musicians and everyone of the boys in the band play their own instruments. It's a very talented ensemble, with standouts in Bartos and Halper especially. Sing Street feels like lightning in a bottle. The creative team has successfully transferred the story from screen to stage, and done so to great effect. It feels like Conor's story was born for the stage, especially in such a theater where work like Once, Hadestown, and Rent were born. It's beautifully created, moving, and full of life; resulting in a stunning piece of theater.

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