Catawba presents ‘Songs for a New World’ starting Friday

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 10, 2022

Catawba News Service

SALISBURY  — The Catawba College Department of Theatre Arts will present “Songs for a New World,” with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, in Hedrick Little Theatre on Nov. 11, 12, 18, and 19 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 13 at 2:30 p.m.

Catawba’s theater students face profound life decisions in Brown’s compelling musical.

“It’s about one moment.” It’s about hitting the wall and having to make a choice, take a stand, or turn around and go back. These are the stories and characters of today, the “songs for a new world.” Tony Award winner (Parade, Bridges of Madison County) Jason Robert Brown’s first musical is a moving collection of powerful songs that examines life, love, and the choices that we make.

At age 25, songwriter Brown pieced together 16 songs he had previously written to create a contemporary song cycle with a common theme: the moment of decision, the point at which you transition from old to new. Each song is a powerful stand-alone experience that takes us on a physical or emotional journey to a defining moment where everything suddenly changes. It’s about coming to a crossroads and surviving a new set of circumstances. Given the current state of things, this musical seems more relevant today than ever as we navigate our way forward in a seemingly “new world.”

Brown continues, “Songs is meant to be a showcase of all the various styles I could write in, so there’s a very deliberate attempt to have a little of everything in there, gospel and R&B and jazz and rock and salsa and polkas and German music hall parodies and country and singer-songwritery things and whatever ‘The Flagmaker’ is. If there is a ‘Jason Robert Brown’ sound (and I think there probably is), it’s all there in this score, like an entire map to my DNA.”

Under the direction of David T. Loudermilk, with musical direction by Nicholas Fuqua, Catawba’s theatre students face these profound moments of decision in this compelling score. Loudermilk adds, “I have an incredible cast of inquisitive, bright, and generous actors who are willing to dig deep, ask thought-provoking questions, and truly reveal themselves as artists and our next generation of leaders. I treasure every second I get with them.”

The cast includes two seniors: Sarah Ann Burke (Salisbury) and Michelle Medina Villalon (Denver, N.C.); two sophomores: Andrew Moore (Gastonia) and Camden Trimmer (Raleigh); and six first-year students: Sarah Bedini (Raleigh); Francine Green-Thomas (Philadelphia); Noah Haberacker (Concord); Evan Moreno (Birmingham, AL); Jaazaniah Salehm (Black Creek, N.C.); and Alana Williamson (Raleigh).

Camden Trimmer, class of 2025, majoring in Theatre Arts Performance and Theatre Arts Administration, notes that “Building a show like Songs out of a common theme instead of a plot adds a lot of difficulties, but gives us so much freedom to tell stories and address the issues we want to. This show has truly been one like no other.”

Jaazaniah Salehm, class of 2026, Worship Music Arts major, says, “The time and dedication required are reminiscent of all those days I heard my mom say, ‘Practice makes perfect, Jake; you’re gonna have to practice.’ Well, Mom, I’ve practiced! I hope you enjoy the show!”

Stage managed by fourth-year student Colleen Welday, the production staff, includes an all-student crew consisting of assistant stage managers Autumn Perkins and Aslyn Goodwin. They are joined backstage by our running crew, Kerala Bannister, Logan Brown, and Keating Lamson, as well as wardrobe/dressers, Julia Rockwell and Kris Wooten. Zac Hunter serves as light board operator, with Garrett Jennings and Ryan Behm running Follow Spots. Jennifer Barrios-Gomez, Winter Hamilton, and Malachi Williams will mix the sound for this concert-style musical theatre production.

Tickets are $15 for an individual adult ticket, $12 for non-Catawba students and adults 60 and older. Tickets can be purchased through the Catawba College online box office at Catawba.edu/theatretix. For questions, email boxoffice@catawba.edu or call the box office at 704-637-4481.

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