Les Miserables had some image problems at the start of its life as the uninformed thought it would be a depressing tale and not how you would want to spend an evening at the theatre. The rest is, of course, musical theatre history!
‘Songs for a New World’ in contrast sounds very positive, but the reality is different.
The show is a series of mainly solos with a few ensemble pieces by a cast of 2 women and 2 men. The show was not a particular commercial success for writer Jason Robert Brown but it has been performed by amateur companies around the globe. The simplicity of set and lighting with a small cast would appeal to many a producer contemplating a fringe show.
Described as an abstract musical without story and dialogue, the songs are linked by the themes of new world and a moment of decision-making often around a life changing experience. Sometimes linked is a bit of an exaggeration as the four performers take on roles from soulful to a bit of razzmatazz. The latter is in short supply and the songs are often challenging the cast vocally and short on melody.
Gabrielle James gets the show off to great start with a voice that you look forward to hearing more of but personally I think she and her fellow performers Anthony Greatley, Joshua Newman and Lizzie Nuttall are let down by the material.
Lizzie has some of the best songs, Surabaya Santa for one and was convincing as the wife teetering on the edge of the 57th floor
The lads are not so lucky and mainly have straight songs lacking in the impact that the songs from Les Miserables have on an audience.
As the show is like a cabaret, I would have put together a totally different collection of songs with similar themes from the world of Broadway that would have used the talents of the cast and entertained the audience.
Show times: Runs til 27 Aug (not 14), 8pm