note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Beverly Creasey
If you missed SpeakEasy's award winning "Songs for A New World" last season, don't despair. You can see this hip revue this weekend in Quincy. Yes, Quincy --- a mere hop, skip and a jump on the Red Line to Wollaston Station. Eunice Ferriera, who produced, directed and choreographed this popular song cycle, knows that clarity and simplicity serve the material best. Elaborate staging would take focus away from the gorgeous songs.
Composer Jason Robert Brown (who won a Tony for "Parade") is heavily influenced by Sondheim, but for the most part he stays away from the sardonic --- except in my favorite song of the evening, a naughty send-up of the Brecht/Weill "Surabaya Johnny" called "Surabaya Santa" in which Mrs. Claus tells off her preoccupied mate.
Ferreira and Jose Delgado's cast is first rate: Any one of these students could have a career in professional theater in Boston right now, especially in musical theater.
Some of Brown's songs seem overly moralistic --- in the "Godspell" m ode --- like Heather Hannon's finely understated rendition of "Stars And The Moon". Most of the songs are savvy new age anthems like "The River Won't Flow" --- brilliantly executed by Jason Blake, Timothy Semchenko, and the company. Blake also delivers the showstopper: a soaring metaphysical ballad called "Flying Home".
Corey Walker, too, deserves special mention for his riveting "The Steam Train" and the plaintive "King of The World". Every song, from Michael Caulfield and Amanda Dix's poignant love duet to Megan Wall's searing war lamentation, packs a punch and tugs at the heart. Eastern Nazarene could have moved the production to the Boston Center for The Arts and had a hit on their hands. Huzzahs to the young, mega-talented cast.