Jason Robert Brown’s “Songs For a New World,” now playing at the Chromolume Theatre, is a powerful, poetic paeon to the struggles of the 4 main characters: man 1 (Kenny Gary); man 2 (Matt Mancuso); (woman 1 (Bailey Humiston); and woman 2 (Teresa Tracy). Each persona represents a slice of Americana in his/her own right. The first one we are introduced to is Kenny Gary, his opening song, “On the Deck of a Spanish Sailing Ship, 1492,” basically a prayer for an easier, less painful path, the road less taken, as it were, to the promised land. Bailey Humistan provides further words of inspiring supplication, with “Lord give me hope on my spiritual journey to a new life,” in the number “I’m Not Afraid of Anything.”
A wonderfully memorable scene portrays woman 2 (Teresa Tracy), a Queens native, who begs her husband Murray to free her from the shackles of his control. At one point, in complete frustration, she utters the catch all word, “whatever,” and we instantly feel her angst.
The bartender (Mancuso) and woman 1 (Humiston) sing and dance of the ultimate fantasy of finding the perfect mate of one’s dreams in an evocative musical number. Another beautiful touch is woman 2 singing to a miniature St. Nick, in “Christmas Lullaby,” bringing the fantasies of Christmas into juxtaposition with real life romance.
A woman sewing the Stars and Stripes as a modern day Betsy Ross, “The Flagmaker, 1776,” is a clever conceit on Shakespeare’s coined quote, “suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, from Hamlet.
This musical production is at one a powerful serenade of life’s precarious challenges and new beginnings, performed by a cohesive ensemble. The Chromolune is a great example of small musical theatre offerings here in our city of angels.