‘New World’ showcases song cycle
The vast stage is filled with uneven geometric pieces representing mountains and other aspects of nature. The stage includes a four-person band and extends towards the audience, making for a more intimate theater experience. Above the stage, a round sun rises and falls to change the setting. Gabi Nail ’18 walks out and sings “A new world calls across the ocean, a new world calls across the sky.” Her voice is pure and light and filled with yearning. From there, the audience is transported to a “new world” where emotions are deep and souls are bared. Thus begins “Songs for a New World.”
“Songs for a New World,” which took place in the Spingold Theater from Thursday 15 to Sunday 18 is a unique theater-going experience. The show was directed by Rachel Liff ’16. Her direction effectively captures the meanings and emotions implied in each song. Music and lyrics were written by Jason Robert Brown, the composer behind musicals such as “The Last Five Years,” “13,” and “Bridges of Madison County”
The show was in a song cycle form, meaning that it consisted only of musical numbers with no concrete plot. Even though each song was its own entity, they all had similar themes and fit together to create an abstract yet cohesive show. The songs were filled with stunning and complex harmonies as well as gorgeous melodies. The costumes were simple, modern clothing that reflected the different styles of people in this world.
The cast consisted of five talented actors who each had their moments to shine in solos, as well as in duets and ensemble numbers. Each musical number had a different style that reflected Broadway, gospel and balladic influences.
While watching the show, I struggled to figure out the historical time period each song was trying to showcase. However, the titles of the musical numbers helped to clarify the context.
The third musical number, “On The Deck Of A Sailing Ship, 1492,” sounded like a soulful, gospel song.These songs preached of freedom and salvation by God’s grace. This song conveyed the intense journey that settlers took to America in 1492 with Christopher Columbus. Kiana Nwaobia ’17 sang this song with both passion and grace, as she did with all of her numbers. Adam Recht ’16, who soloed in both “Flying Home,” and “King of the World,” performed each song with soul and passion.
Rebecca Myers’s ’18 songs tended to serve as comic relief to the generally emotionally difficult show. Her song “Just One Step” portrayed a woman attempting to jump off the ledge of her penthouse because she is furious with her husband. She played the classic part of a New York middle-age woman with a total accuracy that added a level of hilarity.
This song was filled with humorous moments and clever lyrics. Myers’ other shining moment was a song called “Surabaya-Santa,” in which she played Mrs. Claus telling her husband Santa of her plans to leave him. However, not all of Meyers’ moments were filled with humor. She sang an emotional song called “Stars And The Moon,” in which she portrayed a woman who fulfills her dream of marrying rich but looks back and questions her decision.
Jason Theoharis ’17 and Nail sang a wonderful song called “The World Was Dancing” which was about a man’s fear of failure regarding his family, education, and his fiancé, Amy. As Theoharis sang, Nail beautifully and gracefully danced a ballet. Choreographed by Sarai Warsoff ’16, “Songs For A New World” has moments of modern dance and movement, as well as the ballet performed by Nail.
Each number in the show was unique in its own way and portrayed a different aspect of the human condition. One number in particular, “The Flagmaker, 1775,” made me reflect on the American Revolution.
It was a story of a mother sewing the American flag and worried about the war for independence and its affects on her family. This show heightened my appreciation for the privileges that we have by living in America, as well as for the difficult decisions that we face. If we look in the broader scope of our lives, we don’t realize the sacrifices made for our daily freedoms, freedoms that some people don’t have the privilege to experience.