Set to an eclectic medley of different music genres, that evoke the vision of the original American dream and its project of welcoming folks from all walks of life, ‘Songs for a New World’ is a melting pot of musical theatre.

With each changing scene, the production catapults you from one character’s hopes, dreams, and heartbreaks, to another’s. The main theme of this show can be summed up in one world: relationships. Stories of strained relationships as life takes its course; the sweet naivety of youthful dreams giving way to the disappointed, nagging wife, or a man frustrated with his partner’s tears. The script does not skimp on perspectives – each musical number presents the audience with a new character’s story.

Yet despite this abundance of characters, one standout feature of this production is its small cast.  Four cast members took on the task of embodying a varied set of acting roles; faced with a vocally demanding score and subtle, rhythmically-challenging harmonies, they nevertheless rose to the challenge. The vocal performances of each were impressive; all four performers had the ability to maintain control over their voices over the entirety of the show’s timespan. Moments of comedy were also delivered with gusto and met with laughter and cheers from the audience. Standout performances on the night were from Jodie Russell - previously the Narrator in the Brickhouse’s production of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ – who added a sense of depth to many of the characters she played, and demonstrated particular comedic talent. Lucia Azzi also shone in the musical number ‘Stars and the Moon’, in her character’s frank but regret-filled confession of how she chose money over love.

The staging of the show made excellent use of the Brickhouse’s new metrodeck, with multi-level choreography being employed for a striking visual effect. Regardless of the small cast, this show was a massive project to take on and rehearse in a couple of weeks, when you take into account the variety of the musical numbers and characters involved. Credit must also go to the band for getting to grips with the musical content quickly. At times, the music felt like it could have been even better with a few more rehearsals, but the band did a commendable job, given the timeframe available.  Costume choices suited the show’s minimalistic premise, as neutral jeans and blouse combos allowed the cast to easily switch between their diverse roles, and let the physical and vocal performances really take centre stage.

If you seek an experience filled with soaring vocal performances, bittersweet comedy, and a feel-good score, this is not a production to miss.

4/5

Urvie Pereira, 2UGrad, Robinson College

‘Songs for a New World’ has its final two performances on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th February at 7:45pm in the Robinson Auditorium. Tickets available on the door and online: https://brickhouse.tessera.info