Spring musical brings “Songs for a New World”
Ellis McGinley – Copy Editor
The university’s theatre department has announced its spring musical, “Songs for a New World” by Jason Robert Brown.
“Songs for a New World” will be directed by Larry Nye, associate professor of theatre, and musically directed by Jill Brunelle, adjunct professor.
However, “Songs for a New World” may not be everyone’s traditional idea of a musical. Rather than one cohesive story with a cast of consistent, recurring characters, it is an abstract collection of nineteen songs, each of which tells its own story. All songs are connected by an overarching theme.
“Each song is separate. There is not a through line or plot to follow. Each number has the same underlying theme of decisions and choices, but do not rely upon each other to tell a larger story,” said Nye.
When asked why the Department chose “Songs for a New World,” Nye said: “the title was a part of the decision. The show is about decisions. That point where you make a decision to move on, go back and or reflect. The main reason was the show is similar to a song cycle and does not need a large ensemble to sing and dance. It is mostly solo work. A couple duets and a couple group numbers. It could be staged with COVID protocol.”
Nye’s experience includes summer work with Stagedoor Manors, producing an average of 42 shows a season, directing for the Macy’s Parade, and previous advisor and direction positions for the university’s musical and song cycle productions.
The original “Songs for a New World” stage play calls for four main actors and an ensemble. The university’s production will be using four onstage and four off, for a total cast of 8 people.
When asked why he was auditioning for the show, theater major Samhain Perez, a freshman said, “I want to participate in as many productions as I can while attending Southern, not only to build experience but make good connectionsand really have a good resume under my belt.”
“I am auditioning because I like doing musicals more than plays. I have been involved in every production since the fall of 2019 besides Red Velvet and Sweat. I use the plays to get behind-the-scenes experience and learn what it takes to put on a show and the musicals to improve my performance skills. I just really like musicals,” said theater major Nicole Thomas, a sophomore.
This will be the university’s first live production since shutting down last spring.
“I much prefer [performing live] to remote performances, as there are so many technical issues that can crop up. Working IT for two years really hinders your trust in tech,” said Perez, “and familiarity and comfort can build much easier between actors when there isn’t a second of lag between every sentence.”
The department’s previous two productions, “Sweat” and “An Enemy for the People” were both performed entirely remote. “An Enemy for the People” was recorded as a radio play, while “Sweat” had its actors record themselves, then edited them together to create the impression of a virtual set.
For “Songs for a New World,” “performers will be masked and 25 feet apart,” said Nye, and the production will be streamed live from the theater. “I love the idea of filming it and streaming it live because, especially in a pandemic, it’s the best choice of action to be super safe, and with online streaming services being more accessible to not only the SCSU theatre departments, but theaters all over the country, it makes sure that family from all over the country can see their child doing what they love during a tough time in the world,” said theatre major Sebastian Cordero, a sophomore.
“The last time I worked on a live production was at Hopkins School last spring, just before the lockdown,” said Nye. “It was “Spamalot.” It was big and fun and I miss working on musicals.”
Initial auditions for the show’s cast were held virtually. Interested performers were instructed to record and submit 32 bars, or about a minute and a half, of any showtune for consideration. “Songs for a New World” will open March 4 and hold performances through Saturday, March 6.