Songs For A New World

17 August 2016 | 2:25 pm | Danielle O'Donohue

"Songs... asks a lot from its audience but it gives a lot back."

Songs For A New World isn't what most people would expect from musical theatre.

It has no plotline or narrative, no defined characters and the only real theme to the collection of songs is a forward motion. Nonetheless, Tony-award winning US composer Jason Robert Brown has written such a compelling and evocative song cycle that Songs For A New World hangs together beautifully. All four performers, Teagan Wouters, Sophie Carter, Cameron MacDonald and Christopher Scalzo, take it in turns to present these songs at their best, and all four will hopefully be snapped up for upcoming shows based on the strength of their performances here. Carter's comic instincts elevate Just One Step and Surabaya-Santa and Scalzo's Flying Home is the piece's showstopper. Although the song cycle is presented on a simple ship's bow set, it effectively introduces each song's singer and location without distracting the audience from the laser-like focus needed to connect with the short snippets of stories presented. The stripped-back, three-piece band avoids Hayes' usual sound problems and keeps out of the way of the four voices that tell these stories. Songs... asks a lot from its audience but it gives a lot back. Hopefully Sydney audiences are up for the challenge.