Songs for a New World written and composed by Jason Robert Brown is a composition of songs that tell a story incorporating 'a moment of decision' through a span of time. It's a rather odd combination of stories that weave the historical with the contemporary in an attempt to portray that even throughout time, love never changes. This ambitious production was presented quite simply at Javeenbah Theatre which didn't necessarily aid with the comprehension of this musical journey.
Director Trevor Love scored some superb talent with the likes of Alexandra Ward who stole the show with her vibrant and entertaining musical storytelling skills, and exquisite voice. Her face radiated emotion and she took command of the stage, easily winning the audience over in all her numbers, especially Surabaya-Santa. Rachel Love was also a stand out with her rich and powerful vocals. Susannah Treacy revelled in her role of the wealthy suicidal wife in Just One Step. Daniela Martiri gave a touching performance in I'm Not Afraid of Anything. Matthew Pearson and Dominic Bradley gave a good performance in The River Won't Flow before Matthew's disappearance was noticed. He reappeared for his allotted numbers with a face that showed something was amiss. I was later told that he was suffering from a back injury that was causing him intense pain, yet he was determined not to let his fellow performers down. I found this to be very admirable. Young Flynn Anderson did his best to keep up to the level of the more experienced performers, which I feel was not a fair casting decision.
All up, considering there were sixteen songs incorporating independent stories, the use of props such as a basketball hoop, a set of prison bars, a portion of a 1492 ship, would have given some visual clarity to each story. Just as important are visually appealing costumes that depict each character telling their story, rather than having the same costumes throughout the production. The lighting against the silver curtains was effective, the set design was simplistic. I questioned the position of the ladder which was used in one of the last numbers but resulted with the performer's back to the audience. The sound was crystal with a minor glitch during one song.
If you enjoy musical theatre then Songs for a New World will treat you to some wonderful talent. Community theatre is intimate and special in its own way. I certainly appreciate the hard work and dedication that goes into every production. Treat yourself to a night out at the theatre. It's cheaper than dining out and will enrich your mind with a new experience.
Javeenbah Theatre is a small intimate, air-conditioned theatre located in Nerang. It is beautifully set up with tables and chairs al fresco where you can meet friends prior to the show and enjoy drinks and nibbles at the fully licensed bar. There is also comfortable seating indoors. Opening night tickets include a light supper after the show giving you an opportunity to socialise and meet the cast and crew. Javeenbah is an Aboriginal word meaning 'The Meeting Place'.
I recommend you book in as early as possible, especially if you are planning to go as a group, as Javeenbah is a small theatre with limited seating.
Songs for a New World music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Performed at Javeenbah Theatre, Nerang, QLD Directed by: Trevor Love
Music Director: Rachel Love
Stage Manager: Barry Gibson
Sound Design: Mikaela Murphy
Lighting & Technical Design: Colin Crow
Set Design: Trevor Love, Gillian Crow, Patrick Monteath, Craig Smith, Barry Gibson
Reviewed on 17 September by Jacquelin Melilli
Image courtesy of Dan Ryan