Songs For A New World
Reviewed by Nick Smurthwaite
This enterprising and cosy City venue excels at high class musicals
They're particularly keen on providing a showcase for new American
musical talent, such as Michael John LaChiusa (The Wild Party, Hello
Again) and Jason Robert Brown, composer of their current show.
Songs For A New World is not so much a musical as a song cycle,
consisting of 18 numbers written in New York in the mid 1990s when
Brown was "struggling in a city that didn't even notice I was there."
Though it starts and finishes with songs of hope and regeneration, the
ones in between tend to reflect his prevailing mood of isolation, gloom
Three years later he went on to produce Parade which was showered with
awards, including a Tony for Brown as composer-lyricist.
Since Parade hasn't played in London yet, you can't help thinking that
the Bridewell would have been better advised to wait until Brown was a
known quantity here before staging a formative piece such as this.
These are often difficult, ambitious songs, deploying a whole range of
musical styles, from hot gospel to the novelty number, Surabaya-Santa,
in which Santa's lover finally throws in the towel.
There are gems (I'd Give It All For You) and duds (The Flagmaker), but
they're all performed for all they're worth by Golda Rosheuvel, Craig
Purnell, Sarah Redmond and Nigel Richards, under Clive Paget's
songs for a new world