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Review: SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD at Berkshire Theatre Group

Review: SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD at Berkshire Theatre Group

If you don’t know Jason Robert Brown or his work…you should.

SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD, is the first musical from Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown, this moving collection of songs examines life, love and the choices that we make. It brings us face to face with those moments in life when everything seems perfect, until they go sideways. Most importantly, however, it's about surviving those moments. It's about the way we regroup and thrive under a new set of circumstances - a new world - even against seemingly overwhelming odds.

Review: SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD at Berkshire Theatre Group
Mia Munn, Nathe Rowbotham, Michael Wordly,
Alexandria J. Henderson
Photo by Emma K. Rothenberg Ware

Jason Robert Brown has been hailed as "one of Broadway's smartest and most sophisticated songwriters since Stephen Sondheim" (Philadelphia Inquirer), and his "extraordinary, jubilant theater music" (Chicago Tribune) has been heard all over the world, whether in one of the hundreds of productions of his musicals every year or in his own incendiary live performances. The New York Times refers to Jason as "a leading member of a new generation of composers who embody high hopes for the American musical." Although these accolades are well founded and deserved, they leave out one of the things that I like most about Brown, he is a masterful storyteller. So much so, there is no book or libretto for SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD. There is not one single word of spoken dialogue. The driving, exquisitely crafted score is brilliant. It draws you in and in most cases, regardless of who might be performing a given piece, you find yourself caught up in the lyrics feeling as if they could be telling your story or at least a good portion of it.

The talented ensemble cast includes Alexandria J. Henderson, Mia Munn, Nathe Rowbotham, and Michael Wordly. Musical Director / Pianist, Danté Harrel, also sings two of the songs presented. The casting and the numbers each member presents take a noticeable diversion from the original. Some of them worked for me, some did not. Alexandria J. Henderson is rock solid. Her calm, cool, confident demeanor is a pleasure to watch as well as a joy to listen to regardless of the piece she may be performing. Michael Wordly is darned near perfection in casting. He is soulful, sultry, and spot-on. His vocal range as well as his ability to emote a range of characters and emotions through song and movement is enviable. Mia Munn's vocals are great but she was tasked with presenting two of the shows more characterized, stylistically schtick numbers that came off a bit pale and are better suited for one with more seasoning and / or comedic timing. Nathe Rowbotham's presentation of Stars and The Moon, my personal favorite from the show, was a bit different and a delight.

Review: SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD at Berkshire Theatre Group
Mia Munn, Michael Wordly, Nathe Rowbotham,
Alexandria J. Henderson
Photo by Emma K. Rothenberg Ware

Gerry McIntyre serves as both Director and Choreographer. His comfort and skill in both is evident as the cast moves about using just about every inch of usable space in the theatre something I have not seen previously and works extremely well here. Also noteworthy is the work of Randall Parsons, Resident Scenic Designer and Shawn Edward Boyle, Projection & Lighting Design. Their work and contributions appear subtle at first but quickly become an integral part of the action that work together harmoniously and make a strong and impressive contribution to the production's success. The creative team is rounded out by Shivanna Booknanan (Costume Designer), Kaique "Kai" De Souza (Sound Designer), Suzanne Apicella (Rehearsal Stage Manager), and Caroline Stamm (Performance Stage Manager).

Overall, the show works quite well. SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD is a high-quality production of a solid contemporary musical, that audience members can get lost in for an afternoon or evening. Performances continue at Berkshire Theatre Group's Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge. You may not know it... but you should.




From This Author - Marc Savitt

Marc Savitt has a life-long passion for, and association with the performing arts, particularly Musical Theatre. He has performed with choral groups in several US cities, and London, and appears on... (read more about this author)


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