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Songs For A New World – The Bridewell Theatre, London

Music and Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown

Director: Sarah Redmond

Musical Director: Francis Goodhand

Choreographer: Cristian Valle

Reviewer: Joanna Forest

[rating:4]

The National Youth Music Theatre’s 2012 season is featuring the work of American composer Jason Robert Brown, and this evening they are presenting ‘Songs for a New World’ directed by Sarah Redmond. It’s been seventeen years since this piece was first performed in Manhattan and tonight the NYMT treat us to a truly magical evening.

Jason Robert Brown, who has shot to fame in recent years as one of musical theatre’s leading composers, with gems such as ‘The Last Five Years’ and ‘Parade’ never fails to have you on the edge of your seat as you become totally transported into the world of the characters he creates and you listen to the stories they have to tell.

The NYMT established in 1976 by Jeremey James Taylor certainly lives up to its reputation tonight of creating dynamic innovative work and being the training ground and inspiration for future professionals.

Sarah Redmond brings these fantastic but unrelated songs linked together as a song cycle, to life with her imaginative and thought provoking staging.

Redmond’s skilful direction brings out the very best of each of the young performers on stage.The detailed characterisation and many a comedy moment bring out the full potential of not only the singing, but also great acting.

Ellie Jackson opened the show with a lovely engaging stage presence and stood out throughout. Charlotte Smith showed us some lovely acting as she told us the story of ‘Stars and the Moon’. Katie Parsons who performed two show stopping numbers ‘Just One Step’ and ‘Surabaya-Santa’ has a fantastic voice and great comic timing. Kayla Cohen and Tom Milligan’s duet ‘I’d give it all for you’ was beautifully sung and acted. Stewart Clarke, Dean Gilmore and Luke Ward sang brilliantly and Jake Fisher brought some great dancing to the show which was choreographed by Cristian Valle.

There was so much young talent on stage to enjoy, but a stand-out moment was Amy Matthews’s real tears streaming down her face after an emotional ‘I’m Not Afraid of Anything’ and the stand-out performance of the evening was Eleanor Kiff’s interpretation of ‘The Flagmaker, 1775’, possibly the most challenging song of the evening, and Eleanor executed it perfectly.

Jason Robert Brown’s ‘Songs for a New World’ is an exhilarating emotional ride and with Musical Director Francis Goodhand’s band, Sarah Redmond’s interpretation and the talented NYMT this makes for a splendid theatre experience.

Runs Until – Saturday 4th August

 

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