Songs for a New World helped audiences believe in tomorrow at a one-night only benefit concert supporting The Performing Arts Project on March 11 at the XL Cabaret. Broadway stars Nick Adams (Priscilla Queen of the Desert), Ashley Brown (Mary Poppins), Jessica Rush (Jersey Boys), and Michael James Scott (The Book of Mormon) lent their voices to the chill-inducing score by Jason Robert Brown. The creative team included Jeff Calhoun (Director), Jeremy Merrifield (Executive Producer), James Sampliner (Musical Direction), and Rickard J. Hinds (Associate Director).
The concert was delayed due to a fuse blowing, which caused the sound system to shut down moments before the first performance of the concert began. Director and Two-time Tony Award nominee Jeff Calhoun entertained the audience, with the help of the cast, while waiting for the problem to be resolved. Calhoun compared this one-on-one with the cast members to a "bad talk show" as he brought out the cast to answer audience questions. Questions ranged from what it was like for Nick Adams to dress up in drag to how Michael James Scott's line "I have maggots in my scrotum" from The Book of Mormon came about. Even Caissie Levy (Hair) asked Ashley Brown what her favorite song from the show was, which she answered "Christmas Lullaby." Michael James Scott exclaimed, "This is ridiculous. I don't know what to do," promptly striking a pose that imitated the show's poster. Despite this 30-minute delay, audience members seemed wholeheartedly enthusiastic with several standing ovations after many of the show-stopping songs.
Jason Robert Brown's latest production of the inspiring song cycle "shatters the silence" of the previous sound system snafu. Songs for a New World is a series of songs connected by the theme, "the moment of decision," enforced with the repeating lyric "it's about one moment." The songs urge people to believe in tomorrow and "a new world." The four performers do not play the same characters throughout the show, but have consistently developing character arcs in each song. Composer Brown has said of his show, "It's about one moment. It's about hitting the wall and having to make a choice, or take a stand, or turn around and go back."
Songs for a New World not only gave their audiences the stars and the moon, but also The Performing Arts Project. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping prepare the next generation of performers. Their goal is to help students find the courage to be exactly who they are, a central message of the show.