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BWW Review: SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD, North Carolina Theatre


A musical about new beginnings and moments of decision

BWW Review: SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD, North Carolina Theatre

"A new world calls across the ocean," is the first line of Jason Robert Brown's SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD. It's a familiar feeling in 2021, as we all try to navigate what our world looks like now as we move out of quarantine and into a new stage of the pandemic and as we move onwards from the social justice movements and the political elections of the past eighteen months.

After so many months of reflection and so much upheaval, many people are starting new careers or new relationships or even moving to new towns. Personally, I am returning to school next month to pursue a Master's degree and pivot my career path.

So the promise of a new world, the moment of having to make a decision and all the terrifying feelings that come with it is something that is very familiar for all of us right now. It also happens to be the main focus of Brown's song cycle-style musical that is currently being performed by North Carolina Theatre.

BWW Review: SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD, North Carolina Theatre Directed by Eric Woodall, Songs for a New World is an intimate collection of standalone numbers all addressing the same theme in some way. The songs are very indicative of Brown's style, which you might know from musicals like THE LAST FIVE YEARS or BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY. He incorporates a variety of genres and the songs somehow feel modern and fresh and completely at home in the theatre at the same time.

NCT's production is a simple staging, with the band onstage and Samuel Rushen's impressive lighting making up for the lack of more elaborate sets. Screens at the back of the stage are tastefully used in some numbers to add visuals in the form by videos by Joshua Reaves.

Kyle Taylor Parker, who was in the original Broadway cast of KINKY BOOTS, portrays Man 1. His solo, "King of the World," is one of the highlights of the show as it utilizes his great voice and has creative images displayed on the screens that make it resonate even more.

BWW Review: SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD, North Carolina Theatre Last seen as Gretchen in MEAN GIRLS on Broadway, Krystina Alabado brings fantastic vocals to the part of Woman 1. Her "I'm Not Afraid of Anything" was nothing short of stunning as she perfectly portrayed a woman's emotional dilemma within the constraints of one song.

Adam Jacobs originated the role of Aladdin on Broadway, but portrays Man 2 in this show. He brings considerable charm to songs like "The River Won't Flow" and "She Cries."

Christine Sherrill, who previously appeared in GYPSY at North Carolina Theatre, excels in the campier numbers that require her to adopt an over-the-top accent. Her "Just One Step" and "Surabaya Santa" were hilarious as she combined great vocals with humor.

The onscreen visuals of the closing number highlighted just how relevant this musical currently is. As the company sang "Hear My Song," images of healthcare workers, teachers wearing masks, and even the George Floyd memorial were shown before changing to those of people reuniting.

BWW Review: SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD, North Carolina Theatre This musical is the perfect show to return to the theatre with, both for the cast and crew and the audience themselves. It's all about new beginnings, about making that hard decision and taking that leap of faith. It's something many of us are already experiencing and will continue to experience as we most past quarantine and into what follows.

It feels very special, after the last year and a half, to get to sit in a theater again and experience a show with an audience around you. If you're planning your return to the theatre, this is the perfect place to start. SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD is at North Carolina Theatre until August 1.

Don't forget to check out my interview with Krystina Alabado.

Photo Credit: Yevgeny Shlapko

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