Filmed entirely in isolation, this new imagining of Jason Robert Brown’s well-known musical, Songs For A New World, resonates with a generation. The underlying theme that life can change at a moment’s notice is particularly apt in a Covid-19 world. The show, which is produced by Lambert Jackson, is neither a cohesive musical play nor a collection of unconnected songs. Finding a happy middle ground, the character progression is subtle but apparent as we are transported through time and place by powerful imagery that reflects on both the past and the current unsettling times.
Rachel John, Cedric Neal, Ramin Karimloo, Rachel Tucker – a cast many would pay large sums to witness on stage. The theatre credits alone that these four hold show that there are no weak links in this cast. This cacophony of voices carrying us from character to character so effortlessly makes it easy to connect with each personality.
Well known for classic shows The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, it is a joy to hear the rock tones of Ramin Karimloo that we haven’t heard in London since his revered turn as Tom in Murder Ballad at the Arts Theatre. Rachel Tucker and Rachel John bring a level of emotion that I wasn’t expecting from an online production, showing that what other online attempts have struggled to do is indeed possible.
Cedric Neal reminds us that we are all responsible for the choices we make in bringing hope and change to the new world. A sentiment that brings comfort yet a level of accountability that perhaps some are not ready to hear.
The sound, at times, is a little out of sync, but overall this is a well produced piece of theatre. 10 minutes is allowed at the start and for an interval, which build anticipation and bring some normality to this strange new way of theatre viewing.
This digital format may not work for all productions but for a show that drifts between so many disjointed characters, this livestream of Songs For A New World is carried beautifully by four powerhouses of theatre. The production, if slightly fragmented by black out scene changes, brings a message of hope and a feeling that change is possible.
PHOTOS: Lambert Jackson