Songs for a New World

Fresh from the American High School Theatre Festival, this talented group of students give a simple, classy performance of the Jason Robert Brown song cycle. With subject matter ranging from an embittered Mrs Santa Claus’ divorce to the ups and downs of the American Dream, La Salle Academy’s students perform with style, excellent characterisation, and often impressively mature depth of singing, which make this a truly rewarding performance.The songs are a vibrant mix of the funny and the serious, all dynamic and fast-paced with witty lyrics and virtuosic, tricky scores that makes every number a fantastic showpiece for the talented singers of the company. However, there was no sense of ‘diva-ing’ between the singers: the few ensemble numbers demonstrated, in acting and singing, a lovely blend between the performers while each cast member had at least one solo. Particularly impressive was Shelby Carreiro, who really shone as the embittered wife of a 5th Avenue millionaire, with a show-stopping musical-theatre voice that showed her to be more than just a (clearly very talented) comic actress; Nick Cancelliere demonstrated, equally impressively, the opposite end of the comic spectrum with a dynamic, fierce performance of the more serious ‘King of the World’.The disparate subject matter loses the audience’s attention when theatrically performed, as there is little connection between most of the songs. The difficult scoring, in such a large theatre where the students were mic’ed and the accompanist offstage meant that tuning sometimes slipped and the performers sounded young. Generally they performed with convincing confidence, impressive depth in tone and characterisation and a spot-on balance between acting and singing.During the festival, it takes a lot to get a decent audience out of bed before 11am – but for these guys, it is really worth making an effort. A moving, entertaining performance by a cast who will go far, well worth seeing.

Reviews by Amy Crothers

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The Blurb

Newcomer Jason Robert Brown (composer-lyricist of the critical smash 'Parade') has had the whole theatre community talking about his savvy showmanship and exciting contemporary sound for years, starting with this revue.

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