Originally published by Miami New Times Jan 27, 2005
©2005 New Times, Inc. All rights reserved.
Attuned to Tunes
Four singers, five musicians, eighteen
BY DAN HUDAK
Songs for a
and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. Directed by David Arisco. With Blythe
Gruda, Rachel Jones, Kevin Smith Kirkwood, and Tally Sessions. Through
February 13. 305-444-9293.
Where: Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle
Mile, Coral Gables
Four voices sing in
beautiful harmony about hope, dreams, and the dilemma of happiness in Songs
for a New World , a musical revue that meshes gospel, R&B,
and jazz into eighteen heartfelt melodies of surprising emotional
As poignant and deftly chosen as Jason Robert Brown's music and lyrics
are, they would be rendered moot -- or in this case, mute -- if not for
the vocal talents of Blythe Gruda, Rachel Jones, Kevin Smith Kirkwood,
and Tally Sessions, each of whom is allowed to belt out solos while
also singing well with one another in both duet and company pieces.
Highlights include Jones's "Stars and the Moon," a beautiful and simple
song about wanting the world and the danger of getting what you wish
for; "The Steam Train," led by a determined Kirkwood; and "I'd Give It
All for You," sung by Sessions and Gruda, about the painstaking process
of a long-term relationship.
The set consists entirely of a three-pronged marble staircase on a
turntable in the middle of the stage, which slyly allows each singer
effortlessly to move to and from the foreground. While the choreography
is expectedly subtle, though noticeable, the only unusual thing about
the presentation lies in the decision to have the five-piece orchestra
on stage with the performers. By adding a concertlike feel without
being intrusive, band and performers feed off the others' energy and,
as a consequence, create a work that is truly inspired.
In a way, listening to the songs relates directly to the inherent goals
of all musical theater: to create a heightened sense of reality that
provides the audience something to relate to in an escapist, alchemic
form. Songs is, quite literally, music to our ears.
songs for a new world