BWW Review: SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD at Aurora Fox Arts Center

BWW Review: SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD at Aurora Fox Arts Center

Not all shows need to have exuberant sets, notable actors, or even a solidified plotlines to be impactful. As we move further and further into the age of "contemporary musical theater," more song cycles - shows composed primarily of music with no dialogue and presented themes instead of a plot - are making their way into the limelight. Musicals like Edges and Smokey Joe's Café are among those that have cemented their place in time, as is Songs for a New World, currently playing at the Aurora Fox Arts Center.

With an ensemble cast of four players, Songs for a New World requires that each actor have the right amount of gumption to both stand out as a leading player and blend in seamlessly amongst the ensemble. In this way, the cast does not disappoint. With no real character names other than "Man 1 & 2" and "Woman 1 & 2" the team of four are incredibly well-rounded. Leonard Barrett, Jr. offers an older baritone singing voice laced with life experience. Randy Chalmers is a strong actor with a slightly raspy voice that works for him, similar to that of a smooth jazz singer. Sarah Rex is strong in her presence, equipped with an even stronger belt. As the only non-equity cast member, Leiney Rigg's uniqueness was a certain standout.

Due to the nature of song cycles, there is quite a bit of room for more creative interpretations. As the director, Hellen R. Murray did not shy away from taking these liberties, although not always to the benefit of the performance. As someone familiar with the production, it is true that there is no direct plot, however there are certainly some overarching themes that are portrayed through different story arcs by the actors. One of the creative liberties taken was reassigning songs to different actors, including the gender-swapping of two songs, an obvious gesture to the inclusion of LGBT representation. While I appreciate the sentiment, it was not significant enough of a change to add any real value to the piece. It some ways, it loosened an already loose plot. I will say, however, the vision of the cast and crew was done with full commitment to these choices. Although they may not have been my favorite choices, I appreciate they were done so with, as I said before, true gumption.

Altogether, this is a really great piece of work. The individual performances alone are worth every penny. I encourage all to take a repose from everyday life and open your hearts and ears to these Songs for a New World.

Songs for a New World runs September 14 - October 14, 2018 at the Aurora Fox Arts Center. For tickets, visit or call the box office at 303-739-1970.

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From This Author Jon Bee

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