First, from the Birmingham (AL) Post Herald, February 10, 2000:

'Songs for a New World' features a creative mix of music

On Screen

'SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD.' Samford University's Ben F. Harrison Theatre. 7:30
p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $4 for Samford
students; $6 for seniors and children; $7 for adults. For more information,
call 726-2853.

Samford University students Jen Baxley and Lindsey Wallace probably have a
good idea how their composer felt when he dared Broadway and the Big Apple
to take a bite out of him.

The two make their directorial debut this week with Jason Robert Brown's
musical review "Songs for a New World." By then there may not be any nail
biting because there won't be anything left to bite, one of the young
directors says.

"I'm not worried about the cast," Wallace says. "Because they've worked
really hard."

The review is based on the composer's initiation into New York as a
20-year-old songwriter with no contacts, lots of moxie and a mission write
a Broadway musical. With no contacts in town, beyond the delivery guy at the
local Chinese restaurant, Brown succeeded in creating a musical about a
collection of characters who, like himself, embark on an adventure into a
strange new world. The review opened four years later at the WPA Theatre. He
has since been nominated for a Tony for "Parade."

"It basically deals with a lot of different people and critical moments in
life, moments when you have to make key choices and how you people deal with
that," Wallace says.

According to the director's notes, when asked about the result of his
efforts Brown remarked, "It's about one moment. It's about hitting the wall
and having to make a choice; to take a stand or turn around and go back. "

Adding their own comments, Wallace and Baxley write: "As seniors, we relate
to the fears and excitement of heading out on our own, screaming at the top
of our lungs, 'I'm not afraid of anything!'"

The production features eight cast members including Wallace. Baxley also
served as costume designer. Contrary to what most people think of as a
musical, Brown's score features a funky basketball dance number and genres
ranging from funk to gospel, pop and ballads, the director says.

"For me, probably the most exciting part of the show is the music," Wallace
says. "It's some of the most creative and well written music I've heard in a
long time. It's very modern."
Janet Jimmerson /
Birmingham Post-Herald

songs for a new world