BWW Review: SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD at Paliku Theatre
Upon waiting to greet Vanessa Manuel-Mazzullo, one of the cast members of Palikū Theatre's Songs for a New World, the first remark out of my mouth was, "Everyone should see this show". Now, when it comes to theatre, making recommendations, and especially reviewing shows, that's not a statement to be taken lightly. However, that is the case with this particular show---one imbued with a stalwart cast, passionate vocals, and adept direction.
The show follows the story of six people living their day-to-day lives in New York---Michael Cabagbag, Miguel Cadoy III, Susan Hawes, Pomai Lopez, Kevin Pease, and the aforementioned Manuel-Mazzullo---each performing solos, all of whom have their personal struggles and concomitant dreams that they hope to see achieved. Sung entirely with zero dialogue, the show is broken up into two acts, wherein the first act takes a melancholy yet hopeful tone in each of the performed song's lyrics. As the show's overarching theme is about dreamers and dreams, the opening song begins with the company singing "Opening Sequence: The New World", with a fore Cadoy singing about the 'Promised Land', which appropriately segues into the solo performances, in which the characters each sing about their own "promised land" that they hope to find and live within. The second act takes a slightly darker turn, in which the song lyrics are more somber and meditative about the aftermath and effects of having such dreams but with the show ending on a hopeful note. While the characters cross paths with one another and are used as extras to each one's solos, the audience is implicitly asked to find the connection between them. As it appropriately takes place in New York, a metropolitan with millions of commuting people all trying to live their best lives, there is one element that connects the characters beyond the theme of dreams: the use of color. Each character at one point within the show dons the color maroon, whether through a coat, scarf, towel, or shirt, which is an effective way to symbolically manifest a connection to each other, and this is in large a testament to the direction of Jade Stice. Stice demonstrates her directorial prowess through certain flourishes to help tell the story, whether through the use of color, projections behind the actors as they sing, the intricate staging and movements of each performance, and the amount of passion and nuance that she's able to extract from each performer, who each give soulful performances.
Songs for a New World is the type of show that will have individual resonance with audience members. No matter the stage one is experiencing in life, there will be something to connect to, whether themes of loneliness, persistence, regrets, confusion, etc., and this is why I made the statement that "Everyone should see this show"---simply because of the stated: that every audience member will find a theme of the show to latch on to.
The show closed this past Sunday, but hopefully this review sheds light upon the beauty of the show as well as the remarkable work that that the Palikū Theatre puts out. All I have to say to the theatre, director, and cast is, "Thank you".