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Songs For A New World

When is a musical not a musical? When it’s a Song Cycle – a collection of songs, possibly in different styles, but all linked by a common theme. This, then, is what Spot On brought to the intimate setting of The Point’s foyer, in the form of composer/lyricist Jason Robert Brown’s creation, first produced Off-Broadway in 1995. Brown, perhaps best known for his musicals Parade, The Last Five Years and The Bridges of Madison County, has put together this very varied collection of songs all connected by the theme ‘The moment of decision’.

Presented ‘in the round’ and performed by four different but outstandingly talented and exciting singers (Holly Ind, Emma Harris, Rich Spencer and Adam Myers – all recently involved in Spot On’s excellent Jesus Christ Superstar), this was an evening of total involvement, with every song holding the attention and every word and phrase clearly audible over the piano-based score.

Four-part harmonies were a particular strength, and Musical Director Martin Bennetts’ work with the company was clearly on show throughout, particularly in the opening number ‘The New World’ which encapsulated the evening’s central theme, that even when everything seems stable, there is one moment that can change anyone’s life. The varied musical genres were showcased by ‘On the Deck of a Spanish Sailing Ship’, sung as a rock/spiritual, and ‘The River Won’t Flow’ in feel-good, catchy, happy-clappy style. For me the highlight of Act One was ‘Stars and the Moon’, in which a girl regrets rejecting two poor suitors in order to marry for money

Early in Act Two came the torch-style ‘Surabaya Santa’, in which an alluringly red-clad Mrs Santa Claus bemoaned being left on her own every Christmas Day, and ‘King of the World’ with its almost prog-rock soundtrack. This was followed by the superb duet ‘I’d Give It All for You’, in which separated lovers reunite having realised that they cannot live without each other. Equally moving was ‘Flying Home’ as the ghost of a dead soldier sings as his body is flown home to his grieving mother.

The focus and concentration of the ensemble was most impressive, and the result of immense hard work to learn such complex lyrics, tunes and harmonies. Director (and performer) Adam Myers has created an enthralling evening’s entertainment with simply outstanding performances from all four singers. It is an evening I have no hesitation in recommending most highly to all lovers of musicals.