March 01, 2021 - 307 views

Songs for a New World - Made available via Stream Theatre

Songs for a New World, is a vocally demanding piece, described as being closer to a theatrical song cycle than a musical play, to which I would tend to agree. Even in the confines of the vocalist’s various kitchens and front rooms the score is both powerful and incredibly theatrical. This was Jason Robert Brown’s first produced show, originally making it to Off-Broadway and the WPA Theatre in 1995. The connecting theme is “the moment of decision” and although a little abstract at times, and slightly fogged by the uncertainties of who the characters are, and whether they stay consistent, the story arcs achieved by all the principals are nevertheless commendable.

The production had a socially distanced outing last year at the Palladium with the same cast, this time joined for the streamed performance by graduate and rising star Shem Omari James.

Rachel John, Rachel Tucker, Cedric Neal and Ramin Karimloo tackled the complex vocals with ease and at times managed to dig out real and deep emotion, the opening and closing to this cycle were particularly strong and authentic, bolstered by clips of familiar world news items. The images of closed venues and redundant creatives resonated acutely.

It carried a bold and fresh feel, even if the story left me in little bit of a maze with no sign of the exit at times, but the vocals and the passion in the performances from John, Tucker, Neal, Karimloo and Omari James made without exception wonderful company for a couple of hours. It was a pleasure to join them in their sparkling kitchens and comfy lounges.


“Bold and fresh, with passion in the performances.”

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