Filled with a diverse range of songs and musical styles, there is plenty to be enjoyed in watching this rarely performed show Songs For A New World – that is consistently captivating to watch in this isolated performance presented by Lambert Jackson Productions.
Last seen in London in 2015, Jason Robert Brown’s first produced show isn’t quite a traditional piece of musical theatre and certainly feels more like a song cycle, with its diverse range of characters and stories. Throughout it all, there is a great range of emotions and thought-provoking moments that run right through it, brought to life by an immensely talented cast.
Sitting watching and listening to it, there are so many moments that provide reflection, humour and warmth that it can be difficult to decide which song is truly the best. For example, Rachel Tucker’s hilarious and heartfelt performance of ‘Just One Step’ really captures the sense of sense of despair and frustration that the wife feels towards her neglectful husband, leading her to do a desperate act. But then, this is quickly followed by the thoughtful and poignant ‘The River Flows’ – performed with great depth and emotion by Cedric Neal and Ramin Karimloo, whose voices work in perfect harmony.
Songs For a New World really mixes up the emotions and stories – to effectively keep the audience engaged, helped by Séimí Campbell’s direction that ensures the show feels completely intimate. This is particularly highlighted through Rachel John’s soulful and haunting rendition of ‘Christmas Lullaby’ and even the lushly romantic duet ‘I’d Give it All For You’.
Everything is so consistently good throughout, the harmonies on ‘Here’s My Song’ are particularly moving to listen to – combined with the images of theatres still in the dark, provides a message of hope as the line “but trust the light will come” really enhances.
It is also consistent in its sincerity, with Neal’s beautiful performance of ‘Flying Home’ making the audience really sit up and pay attention, nicely following on from Tucker’s heartbreaking rendition of ‘The Flagmaker’.
Every song brings something new to Songs For A New World, but on a personal basis, I really connected to ‘Stars and the Moon’ – a story of sacrifice and regret that Rachel Tucker performs with great sensitivity, while newcomer Shem Omari James (final year student at Arts Ed) delivers such a confident rendition of ‘The Steam Train’ that makes it a real treat to listen to.
Overall, Songs For A New World is a treat from start to finish – particularly with such a charismatic cast as this. It made me laugh, cry and want to experience it all over again.
By Emma Clarendon
Songs For A New World is on again tonight at 7.30pm. Book your tickets here.