Songs for a New World

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Songs for a New World
Songs for a New World CD Cover.jpg
World Premiere Recording
Music Jason Robert Brown
Lyrics Jason Robert Brown
Productions 1995 Off-Broadway
1998 St. Louis, MO

Songs for a New World is a work of musical theatre written and composed by Jason Robert Brown. This was Jason Robert Brown's first produced show, originally produced Off-Broadway at the WPA Theatre in 1995.

Brown and director Daisy Prince put together songs he had written for other venues and events, resulting in "neither musical play nor revue, it is closer to a theatrical song cycle, a very theatrical song cycle."[1]


The show sits on the boundary between musical and song cycle, but it is neither; it is an abstract musical, a series of songs all connected by a theme: "the moment of decision."[1] The show employs four performers who do not literally play the same characters throughout the show but who do have consistently developing character arcs nonetheless. Composer Jason Robert Brown has said of his show, "It's about one moment. It's about hitting the wall and having to make a choice, or take a stand, or turn around and go back."[2]

A workshop of the show was produced in Toronto. The original Off-Broadway production ran for a limited three and 1/2-week run, which included two 1/2 weeks of previews[3] at the WPA Theatre in 1995. The original cast consisted of Brooks Ashmanskas, Andrea Burns, Jessica Molaskey, and Billy Porter (Porter's part was sung by Ty Taylor on the original cast recording). Daisy Prince directed.[4] The original band consisted of Jason Robert Brown on piano, Randy Landau on bass, Tom Partington on drums, Joe Reina on keyboards, and Warren Smith and Rob McEwan on percussion. The first regional production was mounted by New Line Theatre in St. Louis, MO in 1998.

The piano features heavily throughout the show's music and because of its small cast and orchestra, Songs for a New World has become a favorite small show for colleges and local theatres, despite its vocally demanding score. The music of Songs for a New World is heavily influenced by a broad range of musical genres, including pop, gospel and jazz. Many of the songs combine elements of two or more of these genres.

An extensive background and analysis essay about the show was written by Scott Miller.[5] The Variety reviewer noted :" His debut foray into his own spotlight comes with 'Songs for a New World,' a musical revue that shows Brown to be a capable songwriter of the Alan Menken school: commercial show-tune pop with palatable sentiment and easy-to-take melody.... 'Songs for a New World' seems to contain more cabaret convention and pianobar posing than any one revue should have to withstand."[3]

The first professional revival in New York was staged in October 2008 at the Chernuchin Theatre, featuring a 14-member youth ensemble in addition to the four principal performers; it was directed by Debbie Slevin.[6]

The show continues to be popular among amateur theatre groups with performances across Australia, the USA and the UK. In 2013, the show premiered in Paris, France.[7]

The score was recorded in 1996 by RCA and released in March 1997.[2]

Musical numbers[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b " 'Songs for a New World' Storyline and Musical Numbers", accessed April 2, 2012
  2. ^ a b ' 'Songs For A New World' Recording with Liner notes", accessed April 2, 2012
  3. ^ a b Evans, Greg. "Songs For A New World", Variety, November 6, 1995 - November 12, 1995, p. 79
  4. ^ "'Songs for a New World' Listing" Internet Off-Broadway Database, accessed April 2, 2012
  5. ^ Miller, Scott (1998-11-01). "Inside Songs for a New World". New Line Theatre. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  6. ^ La Gorce, Tammy. "First, a Fan of a Show. Now, She's Producing It", The New York Times, October 19, 2008, Section NJ, p. 10
  7. ^ Pirolli, Bryan. "Songs for a New World". Time Out Paris. Retrieved October 3, 2013. 


  • Miller, Scott. Rebels With Applause (Heinemann, 2001)
  • operetta

External links[edit]