Reviewed by Ceri Horner
Songs for a New World is a brave first offering from the production company Irregular Productions and its creator Peter Johns.
It’s difficult to categorise this collection of songs by Jason Robert Brown, which are not connected by a story or theme. Songs are thinly thread together as disjointed snapshots of defining moments in various peoples lives at different times and locations. Each song uncovering another emotion brought to the surface by some skilfully written lyrics.
Although this production and the work of Brown are relatively new to Adelaide audiences, a few numbers from this show are fast becoming cabaret favourites including Just One Step, Stars and the Moon, Surabaya Santa and King of the World.
In this production Directed by Andy Ahrens the favourites don’t disappoint. These clever and beautifully written songs work well as individual pieces and standout as the best of the bunch.
Megan Humphries is a highlight with a range of brassy, sentimental and comical numbers, although she appears to have the most entertaining material to work with.
Joel Valentis’ soulful voice and strong stage presence provide convincing delivery of the clever lyrics and Mark Oates’ rendition of She Cries is a delight.
But it’s when the voices come together that the real magic happens. The four blend beautifully and make the most of every harmony, which almost makes up for the lack of plot and characters, which prevent the songs from evolving into anything with depth.
The five piece band under the musical direction of Peter Johns are well rehearsed and tight and the audio was only slightly hampered by some breathing and popping created by placing mics too close to a couple of the performers mouths.
There were a few awkward movements, costume changes and fumbled words but most will probably smooth out after a couple of performances and hopefully a playout will be added to remove the uncomfortable silence as the cast find their way off the stage at the end.
I look forward to more regular productions from this group.