Review: “Songs for a New World” Musically, Visually Vibrant

 

KENSIE WALLNER PHOTOGRAPHY | PHOTO COURTESY
The contemporary musical “Songs for a New World” opened Thursday, Feb. 23 and features an endless stream of songs describing life

The lights dimmed and the music started. The seemingly blank stage became a ship, and then a window ledge on the 57th floor of a New York apartment building. But why did the set matter, when it’s all about the story?

For a show where the story changes constantly (and the songs are everything), the stage left more to the imagination.

“Songs for a New World,” a contemporary musical with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, took over the black box theatre at Askanase Auditorium on Thursday, Feb. 23.

The musical is a continuous stream of songs that don’t have a common theme, but that all interconnect to tell stories of individual lives.

Taking this difficult concept to the stage, the “Songs for a New World” cast did an impressive job creating stories out of songs, and scenes out of stairs and stools. A six-person ensemble rotated characters, singing first one role, then another, weaving stories of passion and struggle.

The show tackles some problematic issues in numbers like “Just One Step” and “I’m Not Afraid,” where two different women tell the stories of their broken relationships.

In “Stars and the Moon,” a girl sings about turning down several suitors because she wanted to married for money instead of love.

Humor and satire are sprinkled throughout the seriousness, with puns and jokes interspersed during the course of the show. A laughter-inducing “Surabaya-Santa,” when Mrs. Claus shares what life with Santa is really like, breaks up more serious songs.

With over a dozen different stories woven together, “Songs for a New World” has an unvarying theme of hope and freedom that ties them all together, from the scene of a man contemplating breaking up with his girlfriend in “She Cries,” to the mother worrying for her soldier son in “Flagmaker, 1775.”

“Songs for a New World” is a refreshing break from the customarily grand shows we see in traditional theatre.

The show continues at 7:30 p.m., March 1-4 in Walsh Studio Theatre at Askanase Auditorium.

MORE INFO:
WHEN: 7:30 p.m., March 1 – 4
WHERE: Walsh Studio Theatre
PRICE: Free for NDSU Students, with ID
MORE INFO: Call (701) 231-7969

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