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'Songs for a New World' Features Composer & All-Star Cast

You may have seen his Tony winning Broadway musical "Parade" at Lincoln Center or at the Fells Point Corner Theatre. You may have seen his wonderful off-Broadway musical "The Last Five Years" (cited by Time Magazine as one of the 10 Best Musicals of 2001) at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre or at MetroStage in Alexandria, VA. You may have seen the Spotlighters' production of  "Songs for a New World" (this summer to be presented in Essex at the Cockpit in Court). You may have seen his concert at DC's Blues Alley or his cabaret performance at the Everyman.

If you have been lucky enough to have attended any of the above, you need no prodding to attend his return to the area for only two nights, May 16 & 17, 2007 in a collaboration between the Signature Theatre and the Music Center at Strathmore. Jason Robert Brown, hailed as one of Broadway's most sophisticated songwriters since Stephen Sondheim, will be the musical director and be at the keyboard for a "Concert Musical" of his 16 song revue, "Songs for a New World".

Signature's Associate Director Michael will be directing this equity premiere of this work in the DC area.

This alone would be reason to head to Strathmore Hall.

But, wait till you hear who the performers are:

There are two Tony-Award nominees.

The first is Alice Ripley who created the role of Violet Hilton in the musical "Side Show", and  Betty Schaeffer in "Sunset Boulevard". At the Kennedy Center's Sondheim Celebration, she was Amy in "Company" and at the Arena Stage in "Shakespeare in Hollywood".

The second is Brian D'Arcy James, who I just saw on Broadway in the Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of "The Apple Tree". His Tony nomination came from "The Sweet Smell of Success" but I will always remember his stirring role as Barrett the "Stoker" in the original Broadway cast of "Titanic". Other Broadway credits include "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels", "Carousel", and "The Lieutenant of Inishmore" and "Blood Brothers".

Rounding out the cast is Laura Griffith (a late replacement for Laura Benanti) who has appeared in "Light in the Piazza", "Oklahoma" and "Sweet Smell of Success" and Tituss Burgess ("Jersey Boys" and "Good Vibrations"), who will soon play the plum role of "Sebastian" in Disney's "The Little Mermaid" next season on Broadway.

"Songs for a New World" opened off-Broadway at the WPA Theatre in 1995 and features a broad range of musical genres, including pop, gospel, jazz, and classical. I have seen it numerous times, but never with the composer at the piano. This is an opportunity that does not happen often.

The Music Center at Strathmore has a 1,976-seat concert hall and education complex and is located at 5301 Tuckerman Lane in North Bethesda, MD, immediately adjacent to the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Station (Red Line) and a half-mile from I-695. Parking is free in the Metro garage with your ticket.

"Songs for a New World" will be performed on Wednesday and Thursday nights, May 16 and 17, 2007 at 8 p.m.  Tickets are $21, $32, $35, $47, $50. To purchase tickets or for more information, call 301-581-5100 or visit

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First photo by Cliff Lipson; second photo by Alan Karchmer

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