Friday, November 1, 2019

Broadway Olympia’s Songs for a New World

From left - Loucas T. Curry, Steve Barnett, Elise Tarasova, Brynne Geiszler, photo by Kyle Murphy

by Alec Clayton

Published in The News Tribune, Nov. 1, 2019

For two weekends only, Broadway Olympia is producing the musical Songs for a New World with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, directed and choreographed by Lexi Barnett.

Songs for a New World is unlike other musicals, although in spirit it us akin to the great tribal rock opera Hair. Many commentators have said it is a musical review rather than a play, because there is no real plot and the same characters do not appear throughout. The four actors — listed as Woman 1 (Elise Tarasova), Man 1 (Loucas T. Curry), Woman 2 (Brynne Geiszler) and Man 2 (Steve Barnett) — play various characters, from lovers to a prisoner, to Mrs. Santa Claus, each with their own story.

Instead of a traditional plot line, there is a consistent theme that carries throughout and is expressed in songs with styles that range from ballads to rock to gospel to show tunes. The spirit that carries throughout the play is epitomized by Curry in the song “King of the World” when he is shackled in prison and sings the defiant lyrics “Nothing can stop me from tomorrow, Keep me from my destiny.” These characters each face the hardships and challenges with hope and courage for a new world.

From left: Elise Tarasova, Steve Barnett, Loucas T. Curry, photo by Kyle Murphy

The set is a jumble of trunks and suitcases symbolizing travel, and they become vehicles, ships, beds mountains to ascend, and at least one of them hides a bottle of whiskey that one of the characters drinks. They are worn and beat-up trunks from an earlier era, and even though the setting is ostensibly contemporary, it works in a quirky sort of way.

At the back of the stage is a four-piece band consisting of popular local musicians who have been seen in many area shows, including most of the musical reviews at Harlequin. They are Jeff Bell, musical director and piano; David Lane, keyboard; Andy Garness, drums; and Rick Jarvela, bass — a first class band that melds rock and jazz with just a touch of whimsy.

Lexi Barnett sums up the entire experience in a program note: “I hope that you can rest well in the words of our final song (“Hear My Song”), “I know it’s dark right now, but just believe somehow that soon there will be light.”

The show is happening at the State Theater, home of Harlequin Productions.

WHAT Songs for a New World
WHEN 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1-2 and 7-9 and 2 p.m. Nov. 2-3 and 9-10
WHERE The State Theater, 202, Olympia
HOW MUCH $29, student night Nov. 7 half off

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