Songs For A New World is a song cycle written by Tony award winning composer Jason Robert Brown in the mid 1990’s. Javeenbah Theatre Company opened their production of this contemporary classic, directed by Trevor Love, last weekend.

The cast of Songs For A New World. Image by Dan Ryan. 

This piece of theatre usually only possesses a cast of four, however, within this production it had been increased to an ensemble of seven. The cast included Rachel Love (Musical Director), Matthew Pearson, Susannah Treacy, Flynn Anderson, Daniela Martiri, Dominic Bradley and Alexandra Ward.

One of the prominent falls of this production was the lack of context. This is one of the main challenges faced within presenting a song cycle such as Songs For A New World. The ensemble performed different characters within each number, making it difficult to always connect. This is as much of an issue with the original text as is the direction of this production. I would hope to potentially see further use of props to aid in showing these differences, as well as potentially creating a more universal and clear setting. Whilst the simple staging was effective at times – it didn’t add that extra layer of context that I believe it needed to.

Susannah Treacy performing Just One Step. Image by Dan Ryan. 

A special mention must go to Susannah Treacy for her solo performances of Just One Step and The Flagmaker, 1775. Both of these numbers showcased different aspects of Treacy’s skilled vocal and acting abilities.

Another special mention must go to Alexandra Ward for her hilarious rendition of Surabaya-Santa – her commitment and comic timing had the audience in stitches.

Alexandra Ward performing Surabaya-Santa. Image by Dan Ryan.

I do believe the ensemble did work extremely hard in this production and I commend each performer individually for their efforts.

The production lost momentum by placing an unneeded interval after Steam Train . I also wanted the music to be a little louder at times as it was very soft in comparison to the vocals not allowing the audience to receive the full impact each song.

I do commend Javeenbah Theatre Company for continuing to push theatrical boundaries for community theatre. Their constant willingness to present works that are not necessarily the commercial choices of others keeps the Gold Coast community theatre scene diverse and interesting.

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Written by Jackie Turner