The first musical from three-time Tony Award-winner Jason Robert Brown [Parade, The Bridges of Madison County, & Songs for a New World (1995)] is a collection of powerful songs examining life, love, and the choices ordinary people make when faced with extraordinary moments. From the deck of a 1492 Spanish sailing ship to the ledge of a Fifth Avenue high-rise, each character faces the new world which follows the unique challenge they encounter. Songs for a New World is a contemporary song-cycle that weaves characters and history together, illuminating the timelessness of self-discovery. This musical contains a series of songs all connected by one theme: the moment of decision. This show has four performers who play a variety of characters throughout the show. Composer Brown has said “It’s about one moment. It’s about hitting the wall and having to make a choice, or take a stand, or turn around and go back.”
The music of Songs for a New World is influenced by a broad range of musical genres, including pop, gospel, and jazz. Many of the songs combine elements of two or more of these genres. The piano features heavily throughout the show’s music.
Lights come up on a single woman. Another woman and two men soon join her. Their hopes and dreams, their fears, and failures conjure up images of explorers setting out to find new lands (“Opening: The New World” Company).
The first snapshot of the American experience brings us onboard a sixteenth-century ship as the passengers plead to the Lord to give them the strength to survive the journey. Just as their struggle becomes too much to bear, the passengers find renewed hope of a better life (“On the Deck of a Spanish Sailing Ship, 1492” Man 1 and Company).
We next see a woman standing on the window ledge of her New York penthouse, carrying on with grievances about her husband, Murray. As a crowd gathers below, she threatens to step off of the ledge and take her own life. She is left with nothing but the fear of taking one step to a new and genuinely better life (“Just One Step” Woman 2).
A young, adventurous mother and wife appears. She is seemingly ready for all of life’s challenges and questions the fears of her children, parents, and husband. We see that her strength is perhaps the very thing that is keeping a wall between her and the people she loves (“I’m Not Afraid of Anything” Woman 1).
We move from expectations of love to expectations of money. Two men wrestle with the dream of rewards that hard work should promise. Wealth flows easily for some, but others aren’t as lucky (“The River Won’t Flow” Man 1, Man 2, Company).
Elsewhere, a woman who married very well looks back on the path that she chose. She knew wonderful men who were willing to give her laughter, love, companionship, adventure, and passion, but she chose money over everything else. She now regrets the misguided priorities of her youth (“Transition I” – Woman 1 “Stars and the Moon” – Woman 2).
In a different type of frustrating relationship, a man goes through many ups and downs with the woman that he loves. She lies, and he heads out the door… but he finds himself coming back to her. Although manipulative, her tears are a window to the woman with whom he fell in love (“She Cries” Man 2 ).
Meanwhile, in the Bronx, a determined young man dreams of life as a famous basketball star. His sadness, anger, and passion have ignited an internal fire to realize the fantasy of his own new world (“The Steam Train” Man 1 and Company).
Act Two opens with a man struggling to reconcile his father’s failure in a risky business venture with his education and the commitment that he’s made to his fiancée, Amy. His continual fear of failure makes him unable to choose what he truly wants (“The World Was Dancing” Man 2, Woman 1 and Company).
Mrs. Claus appears. It seems that being married to Santa Claus proves to be too much or, in her case, not enough. She loves, wants and needs him, but she just can’t take another Christmas alone. With a flourish and a few choice words, she slams the door on their relationship for good (“Surabaya-Santa” Woman 2).
Next, a woman who is a bit less ferocious than Mrs. Claus looks to her faith to lift her up while contemplating her life and soul. She feels blessed and assured that her life will have meaning in the grand design of the world (“Christmas Lullaby” Woman 1), but faith is shaken when we meet a desperate man in a prison cell, crying foul of his accused sins. He does not understand why he is there and questions the good he was trying to do (“King of the World” Man 1).
A separated couple appears on stage. Now, as they are reunited, they look back and understand that they ran away out of a fear of love. Although the adventures were thrilling, they realize that they are home with each other at last (“I’d Give It All for You” Man 2 and Woman 1).
The mother of an American Revolutionary soldier anxiously awaits the end of the brutal war with no other way to manage her worry and frustration than to sew a flag (“Transition II” – Man 1 “The Flagmaker, 1775” Woman 2). Echoes of the flagmaker linger as a young man hears the call of angels who will accompany him to where he belongs (“Flying Home” Man 1 and Company).
The company, as if singing a lullaby to a child, express their hope that they have gained by experiencing hardship and how they have gained strength from each other. In the finale, we discover that our hopes and dreams will continue to help light the way to a new world (“Final Transition: The New World” – Company, “Hear My Song” – Company).
Media & Documents
Bootcamp: Dec 5, 2020 – 10:00-12:00pm
Auditions: Videos Due December 11th by 6:00 pm
Rehearsal: 7 weeks of rehearsals
Dec 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 27, 28, 29
Jan 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31
Feb 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9
Filming: Feb 10, 11, 12
Streaming: Feb 26, 27, 28
Mar 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11