Bohemians in Brooklyn


Bohemians in Brooklyn is something between cabaret, storytelling, chamber music and musical theatre. It tells the story of the remarkable collection of artists that lived together at 7 Middagh Street in Brooklyn, New York from 1939 until the building’s demolition in 1945. Among them were: the poet WH Auden; composer Benjamin Britten and his life­ partner the tenor Peter Pears; the southern writer Carson McCullers; the burlesque star turned author Gypsy Rose Lee; composer and author Paul Bowles and his wife, the author Jane Bowles; composer, musicologist and writer Colin McPhee and the novelist and editor, the unsung hero of the enterprise, George Davis.

The show was commissioned by the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival and Music Niagara and developed with the help of the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto. Ken McKenzie provided the set design. It was premiered in Ottawa and Niagara­-on-­the-­Lake in July 2012, and at the Global Cabaret Festival at the Young Centre in October 2012. Bohemians lives on with regular performances, fuelled by equal parts smut, gossip, jealousy, well-­intentioned humanity and heartbreaking beauty.

“Beautifully punctuated… brought the songs to vivid life.” – Now Magazine

“Allen knows how to tell a good story. He obviously does extensive research and knows how to engage an audience… There wasn’t a moment in which I felt the energy lag.” – Kelowna Daily Courier

Patricia O’Callaghan is a recording and performing artist with 5 solo CDs and several collaborations.  She tours both her own shows, and as a cast member or guest artist, around North America, Europe, and Australia.

Bryce Kulak is an actor, singer, pianist, and composer who has been performing professionally across Canada since he was 11. His albums WelcomeTin Can Telephone, and The Man That Got Away are available on iTunes.

Lori Gemmell is the Principal Harpist with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and plays often with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. She has 2 recordings of solo harp music, 2 duo recordings and also recorded with Feist.

Tom Allen hosts Shift on CBC Radio 2 and hosts concerts across Canada. He is the author of three non-fiction books, plays the trombone when he can and wrote this show, among many others. Mostly, he’s a storyteller.


Paul Bowles: Night Waltz (1949)


Parade from Les Illuminations

Music: Benjamin Britten, Words: Arthur Rimbaud

Written in Amityville, Long Island, New York, 1939, first sung by Peter Pears


Just Grand

Words and Music: Bryce Kulak

Based on Carson McCullers’ 1940 novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter


September 1, 1939

Music: Bryce Kulak, Words: WH Auden

Written in Dizzy’s, 52nd Street, NYC, September 1, 1939


I’m Stranger Here, Myself 

Music: Kurt Weill, Words: Ogden Nash

From One Touch of Venus (1943)


I Could Write a Book

Music: Richard Rodgers, Words: Lorenz Hart

From Pal Joey, the hit 1940 show starring June Havoc, Gypsy Rose Lee’s little sister



Music: Leonard Bernstein, Words: Emile Dutoit

Bernstein’s musical setting of one of four recipes from Emile Dumont’s 1889 culinary classic La Bonne Cuisine Francaise.


Antique (excerpt) from Les Illuminations

Music: Benjamin Britten, Words: Arthur Rimbaud


Pat My Foot

Words and Music: Tom Allen


The Wolf Around the Corner

Music: Bryce Kulak, Words: Tom Allen          


Leonard Bernstein: For Susannah Kyle (1949)


Benjamin Britten: Interlude from A Ceremony of Carols (1942)



Music: Bryce Kulak, Words: Tom Allen


Funeral Blues

Music: Bryce Kulak, Words: WH Auden

First written for The Ascent of F6, 1936, revised 1937


Colin McPhee: Pemoengkah from Balinese Ceremonial Music

Written 1940, at 7 Middagh Street, Brooklyn.

First performed at 7 Middagh Street by Colin McPhee and Benjamin Britten

Le Depart from Les Illuminations

Music: Benjamin Britten, Words: Arthur Rimbaud


Mack the Knife from The Threepenny Opera by Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht (1928)


Old Buildings

Words and Music: Bryce Kulak

Performance Times and Locations