Curtain Call

By Rick Pender

               Sometimes good songs well sung can be enough. That's
               the case with the IF THEATRE COLLECTIVE's simple but
               effective production of Jason Robert Brown's SONGS FOR A
               NEW WORLD. It's four singers, four musicians, a handful of
               props ... and 16 glorious songs. They've wedged it into the
               University YMCA (270 Calhoun, Clifton Heights) with
               enough seats for about 70 people, and added some lighting
               accents (the electronics designed by Joe Lovell, plus more
               than 100 candles). The intimacy of this production means
               that the actors don't need to use microphones. The rare
               opportunity to hear non-amplified voices is a special treat,
               particularly with Isaac B. Turner and Shannon Mullane
               Kramer. Turner, a soulful baritone, has a couple of
               evocative numbers ("The River Won't Rise" and "She
               Cries"), while the expressive Kramer gets some especially
               varied material, both poignant ("Stars and the Moon") and
               comic ("Surabaya-Santa"). Melissa Manni and Eric Bricking
               do fine jobs, too, although they have to work harder at
               several moments to overcome enthusiastic percussionists
               and challenging vocal ranges. The ensemble work by all
               four, no matter who might be leading, is impeccable and
               moving. A lot of musical theater fans crowded in last
               weekend; that's likely to be the case again this weekend,
               the show's final performances. Tickets: 513-961-7434. ...
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songs for a new world