‘Songs For A New World’ Highlights Moments of Decision
This semester, the Media, Culture, and the Arts program at The King’s College presented ‘Songs For A New World,’ written by Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown.
This semester, the Media, Culture, and the Arts program at The King’s College presented Songs for a New World written by Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown. The 90-minute musical played from November 21-23 in the City Room on campus.
Misti B. Wills, the director, said, “This contemporary song cycle theatrically reflects on key moments of decision for each of its characters. Utilizing music as the vehicle, JRB guides these relatable people in both historic and contemporary circumstances, into crucial moments. Such decisions include whether or not to leave an important relationship, whether to transcend one’s station, and whether people can really change.”
Eight actors starred in the song cycle: Maurice Alpharicio, Bethanie Arriola (MCA ’22), Andrew Bower, Aidan Briggs (MCA ’23), Leighton Carcha, Anna Hopson (MCA ’22), Kaylee G. Long (MCA ’20), and Caitlin Smith (MCA Dec. ’19). Maurice Alpharicio and Leighton Carcha are both local actors who were brought on board for this production and Andrew Bower is a NYC Semester in Theater student.
The show involved an approximately 15-member student crew, including student producer Lexi Smith (MCA ’22) and assistant director Ann Marie Hogan (MCA ’21). Misti B. Wills served as the director and Virginia Hart Pike, lecturer in musical theater at The King’s College, served as the faculty producer and the musical director. Dr. Henry Bleattler, chair of the College’s program in Media, Culture, and the Arts, was the executive producer.
The band, led by Pike on the piano, consisted of two additional professional Broadway musicians and one student, Benjamin Cook (Finance ’20). The production team included April Bartlett as scenic consultant, Dan Henry as light designer, Kayla Redd (MCA ’16) as costume designer, and Olivia Ronald (MCA ’17) as properties manager.
Pike said, “This year, the musical theater team at King’s decided on a show that develops the vocal talents of our students, which is one reason we chose the classic musical theater song cycle, Songs for a New World. The power of Jason Robert Brown’s breakthrough musical is the power of music itself to move us on in life so we can find we’re at a different place than we were before we listened.”
Each piece in the song cycle functions independently, but, like Wills noted, the theme of choice and decision binds them together. In “She Cries,” sung by Aidan Briggs, a man wars between his idea of manliness and the weakness that arrests him when “she [the woman he loves] cries.” In “Surabaya Santa,” Mrs. Claus, played brilliantly by Anna Hopson, sourly rants about her erstwhile romance with Santa. And in “King of the World,” a man played by Maurice Alpharicio laments his lost reputation while in prison. “I’m king of the world, chief of the sea… At least I used to be…”
Each year that we’ve offered a musical, and this is our fifth, the student talent pool at King’s has gotten stronger and stronger. Professor Pike and I felt that we were ready to tackle this beautiful but musically challenging song cycle. The songs are full of character-driven lyrics, intricate harmonies, and emotional heft. When sung well, this show can knock your socks off. And our students, with great direction from Misti Wills, have done just that. I couldn’t be prouder of what we continue to accomplish in musical theater at King’s.