Songs For a New World features music and lyrics by contemporary American composer Jason Robert Brown. It marked his first professional Off Broadway show and the original production was directed by Daisy Prince, daughter of Hal Prince the famous Producer and Director. The show is more of a song cycle/revue that brings together four singers each on the moment of decision. Although there is some form of overarching narrative, most of the songs stand alone outside of the show. The musical has been popular with fringe companies around the world.
Jason Robert Brown
Jason Robert Brown
Co Conceived by Daisy Prince
Original Production: 1995; WPA Theater Off Broadway
Original Off-Off Broadway Cast: Brooks Ashmanskas, Andrea Burns, Jessica Molaskey, and Billy Porter
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The show begins with a spotlight on a single woman, growing to 2 women and 2 men. They sing about their hopes, dreams and ambitions as if they were explorers looking for a new world. We are taken aboard a 16th Century ship taking passengers to shore. As the struggle to survive the crossing they think about God and ask for support in their new life, (“On the Deck of the Spanish Sailing Ship”). A woman standing on a ledge of her penthouse is threatening to take “Just One Step” and jump as a crowd gathers below to watch her suicidal mission. She is scared about stepping forward into a new life.
A new mother appears and sings to her new born child, saying that strength will see her through, (“I’m Not Afraid of Anything”). We then see two men talking about the idea of wealth and rewards, wondering why some are lucky and others are not, “The River Won’t Flow”. Meanwhile, a woman who has married into wealth looks back at her life and questions the decisions she made and if she really is happy (“Stars and the Moon”).
We then see a different form of relationship as a man struggles with the woman he loves who continues to lie to her. Despite this, he chooses to go back to her, (“She Cries”). In the Bronx a hard young man dreams of being a basketball star and his passion inspires him to fight to achieve his goals (“The Steam Train”).
As the second act begins we see a man struggle to talk to his father after he has failed in life and is unable to make a clear decision, “The World Was Dancing”. Mrs Claus enters and laments about being married to Santa Claus at the prospect of spending another festive season on her own, “Surabaya-Santa”. In direct contrast, a less fearsome woman turns to God to help her find purpose in the real world as she sings a “Christmas Lullaby”.
We cut to a man in his prison cell who questions why he is there and the actions he has taken, (“King of the World”). Straight afterwards we see a couple separated, trying to make their life together work, (“I’d Give it All For You”). A mother of an American Revolutionary soldier sews a flag whilst waiting for news of her son, (“The Flagmaker 1775″). A young man hears the voices of angels and realises he is “Flying Home”. All the four singers come together to talk once again about their hopes, dreams and ambitions they hope to carry on to the new world, “Hear My Song”.
- Opening: The New World
- On The Deck Of A Spanish Sailing Ship, 1492
- Just One Step
- I’m Not Afraid Of Anything
- The River Won’t Flow
- Stars And The Moon
- She Cries
- The Steam Train
- The World Was Dancing
- Christmas Lullaby
- King Of The World
- I’d Give It All For You
- The Flagmaker, 1775
- Flying Home
- Hear My Song
UK: Josef Weinberger
USA: Musical Theatre International