Songs for a New World Connects With Audiences Through Unique Stories

“You don’t know me, but you will. Let me introduce myself,” begins Henry Crater ’20 as he bounces a basketball, beginning the song “Steam Train.” As the song progresses, the rest of the cast joins Crater onstage, their voices blending in harmony as they pass basketballs back and forth. Left alone at the end, Crater concludes the number by repeating, “You don’t know me, but you will.”

“Songs for a New World,” a musical directed by Elizabeth Jancsy, Teaching Fellow in Theater and Dance, explores themes of self-discovery, decision-making, and finding hope through adversity. The play will be showing this Friday and Saturday in Tang Theatre. Set in New York City, the production follows the stories of twelve unique characters as they face different struggles and bad luck throughout the musical.

“You get to travel from a girl on the Upper East Side trying to deal with her relationship, to guys who are living in not the nicest of places in New York talking about how they are going to live on with their lives…Ultimately this show is about a bunch of different people and how they are all connected in these moments of decision,” said Jeffrey Steele ’20, who plays a young bachelor in the musical.

Unlike a traditional musical, “Songs for a New World” is more of a musical review, or a collection of songs without much dialogue in between, according to Jancsy. This gave Jancsy and the cast an opportunity to create a unique storyline for their show and focus on character development through each song.

“The cool thing about ‘Songs for a New World’ is that it’s very song heavy, we go one song to the next… We’ve given actors the liberty to create their own stories within each song, which is something that’s really unique to our production itself, that we’re giving it it’s own storyline, rather than just having the actors stand there and sing each song,” said Jancsy.

Jancsy hopes that audience members will be able to relate to the musical and see themselves in different scenarios throughout the show. Steele feels that, because of the variety of scenarios and people the show covers, every person will find a way to connect to it.

Steele added, “I feel like everyone, if they look, will find a moment that they can relate to in one way or another which is really cool…You’re going to find a moment, if not a whole person, just a moment like the show is about that you’re going to relate to and say, ‘I’ve been there.'”

For Jenni Lawson ’19, even though the musical was different from other productions, she was able to bond with the other cast members as well as empathize with her character.

“I think [the musical is] definitely very different from anything we’ve done before, at least as long as I’ve been here. It’s a really good group of people and we’re really close, and I think that kind of comes through in the performance. We have some really talented singers and awesome direction, and I think overall all of the production has just been going really well,” said Lawson.