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Villanova Theatre Presents Their First Filmed Musical, SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD

Songs For a New World will be streaming on demand January 28 - February 7.

Villanova Theatre Presents Their First Filmed Musical, SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD

On the heels of a wildly successful virtual film festival of new plays, Bakkhai Variations, Villanova Theatre has undertaken yet another ambitious creative endeavor, its first filmed musical. Villanova Theatre will present Songs for a New World with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, directed by alumna Kara Scaramazza ('18), and streaming on demand January 28 - February 7 on Music Theatre International's groundbreaking new platform, ShowTix4U. Rentals are available for 48 hours for $10.

Scaramazza is joined by a stellar creative team including Music Director and Professor Peter A. Hilliard, Director of Photography Taj Rauch, Scenic Designer Asaki Kuruma ('20), Costume Designer Janus Stefanowicz, Lighting Designer Jerold R. Forsyth, Sound Designer Michael Kiley, Props Designer Sharri Jerue, and Dramaturg Matthew Reddin.

According to Scaramazza, "We are in a new world - that doesn't necessarily mean it's a better world, but it's a new world nonetheless. And within that new world, there's opportunity." From the moment she was asked to direct Jason Robert Brown's beloved song cycle, Scaramazza knew this was going to be an experience unlike any other, with new challenges - and opportunities - at every turn.

Instead of rehearsing in-person with actors over several weeks before presenting a finished product in front of a live audience, this pre-recorded production has taken place in isolation, with individual actors performing in isolation for all but the final musical number. Physical constraints quickly transformed into a full-fledged artistic concept, as Scaramazza began envisioning the show as a journey from yearning to be together in isolation to physically sharing space together (though masked and socially distanced) on the stage of Villanova's Topper Theatre in the brand-new John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts.

With the safety of all participants in mind, the decision was made early to capture the musical entirely on film, a process brand-new to Villanova Theatre this season. Additionally, while the performances captured in Bakkhai Variations this fall were all captured on film, producing a streamable musical required a greater degree of technical complexity and collaboration. Scaramazza says this ultimately elevated director of photography Taj Rauch and sound designer Michael Kiley to a level of creative direction similar to the work undertaken by her and Music Director Peter Hilliard.

Throughout this process, Scaramazza says it was important for the four of them, along with the rest of the production team, to be consistently discussing how to make sure the final product felt like theatre, not film, despite the pre-recorded nature of the production. "The show is deceptively challenging, even without all these factors," she adds. "Many of the challenges we faced were things that separate theatre and film actors."

Unlike in a traditional plot-driven musical, each of the songs in the revue-style Songs for a New World tells a self-contained story, with each piece exploring the central themes of freedom, change and adaptation in the face of fear. Brown's powerful, lyrical first musical asks what we do when the world we know is turned upside down, and we are forced to navigate an entirely new one. While each song occurs in isolation, Songs for a New World ultimately sings the praises of human resilience, reminding us that together we can do hard things. As Brown writes in the rousing "Hear My Song": "Hold on; hold tight. I know it's dark right now, but just believe somehow that soon there will be light."

Scaramazza was clear from the beginning that she hoped to stage "Hear My Song" in person, with proper safety protocols in place. As a director, Scaramazza's productions often involve a significant amount of movement and dance, and this pivotal song offered an opportunity to include elements of choreography that were otherwise not possible in a Zoom recording session. According to Scaramazza, "the filming of that song, near the end of the process, also felt like a particularly warm and fuzzy moment, as it was the first and only time when all the actors got to work together during the project."

Villanova Theatre is located on the Villanova University campus in the John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts (at Lancaster & Ithan Aves.). Songs for a New World performances will occur exclusively ONLINE via ShowTix4U. Tickets may be purchased online at www.villanovatheatre.org or directly at https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/43428. Please contact the John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts' Event Coordinator, Margo Raube via email at mullencenter@villanova.edu or by phone at 610-519-5006 if you have any questions about ticketing. Responsive customer support is also available by live chat on ShowTix4U or via email at tickets@showtix4u.com.


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