by Brandon Palmer
Colorado is a beautiful state full of wonderful theatrical talent and potential. It is also a state that has been hit by a few difficult tragedies this summer. But through the midst of them all, theatre artists in particular have banded together through their art to bring the light and love of our world out through their productions. CenterStage Theatre Company’s production of Songs for a New World is bound to be a striking example of that effort.
CenterStage was founded at the turn of the century with the goal of promoting the love of theatre in new generations. Founding director Jeanie Balch says, “We felt like there was a need in east Boulder County for a youth performance program. We have grown and become a non-profit organization and we now produce four to five shows a year.” Songs for a New World is a part of CenterStage’s “Emerging Artists Program,” providing theatrical opportunity to college-aged men and women looking to be involved in the arts. They tell us, “Songs for a New World offers a look at an element that has connected humanity throughout the ages: the moments in which we are faced with monumental changes.”
“Jason Robert Brown’s exciting score transports his audience from the deck of a 1492 Spanish sailing ship to a ledge 57 stories above Fifth Avenue to meeting a startling array of characters ranging from a young man who has determined that basketball is his ticket out of the ghetto to a woman whose dream of marrying rich nabs her the man of her dreams and a soulless marriage. These are the stories and characters of today, the songs for a new world.” – CenterStage website
Balch, who is directing this production, tells us, “It’s a different type of musical. The unique thing about it is that it’s really a theatrical song cycle. It does not have a true storyline. It’s all about the singing, all about the moments.” Composed by Jason Robert Brown, the show is a compilation of songs not set in one particular location or time period, delivered in this production by a cast of nine young actor/singers. “I’m most excited for the voices and the music,” says Balch. “Audiences will just be amazed at the quality of these singers.”
During times of challenges, “we all encounter regret, missed opportunities, or trying to decide to take the right opportunities,” explains Balch. This song cycle production gets to the heart of that truth, and what better cast to portray those kinds of struggles, than a group of young adults facing exciting, new life choices themselves? What’s more, “The actors in this show are the producing members of the show,” explains Balch. “They’ll be running box office and greeting people. We’re looking for a nice community feel, where the audience can talk with the actors, meet them, and then share in this great song cycle with them.”
Brown says of his own piece, “It’s about one moment. It’s about hitting the wall and having to make a choice, or take a stand, or turn around and go back.” Balch tells us, “It’s a very American musical, I think, because we have so much freedom of choice that sometimes it’s overwhelming. We have to just stop and think about what it is we really want. What’s our next step in this moment?” She goes on to say, “I think it’s a very uplifting piece. It doesn’t shy away from the fact that people face problems and disappointments, but it returns to the idea that we go on. There’s a lot of strength in our human-ness. We go on and create new songs for ourselves. I think that’s what we need right now, especially in Colorado; just a moment to be together in song, hearing that songs go on, our voices go on.”
Songs for a New World will be performed at the Louisville Center for the Arts, 801 Grant Avenue in Memory Square Park. Now showing, the production closes on Sunday, August 12. Take note that Friday evening performances begin at 9:15PM, after the Louisville Street Faire. For more details on times and dates, and to purchase tickets, just $14 for adults and $12 for students and seniors, please visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/254776 .