The end of the week is always a good thing (TGIF and all that) and last Friday was surprising in a good way. As you may have gathered from previous posts, I really like the work of Jason Robert Brown, so when I heard of a new production company putting on Songs For a New World, I simply had to go take a look. This show, which is more revue than musical, has a number of excellent songs starting off with the fabulous title track, as well as the wonderful Stars and the Moon. So from a writing point of view, I was already sold.
We treked out to Bray (trek makes it sound far but it isn't) to the Mermaid Arts Centre to see Muse Theatre Company's first venture. Set up by new graduate Amy Penston, who also directed the show, and with a cast of young actor singers, we were given a great night of song and singing. Everyone gave it there all, no question. And then during the second act there was that wonderful moment when an actor is putting across a song so well that it could have been in a big space or small, but either way captured the whole audience: Leah Penston's delivery of Surabaya-Santa was that: it was amazing. My visiting niece (another one, this one being 19) felt that the actress's facial expressions were excellent. This niece is over learning english so being able to read such expressions becomes prehaps more important than ever. But she also loved the show, songs and performances (she also loved Steam Train and Just One Step and perhaps converted to JRB!). The second act also gave us a second stand out moment with Brian Gilligan's performance of Flying Home (perhaps it was suggested to me performed even better than on the cast album!!). Again another moment of wonder. The other cast member, Andrew Linnie, rounded off the front line.
At times the direction might have been better with some odd choices in places, I felt, but then this is a young director and group, so it is all learning and no doubt will improve. The lighting wasn't great in parts, but there was the annoucement at the start of the show that there was a change in lighting personel than printed in the programme, so that was probably a story in itself. It was a pity that the small venue wasn't full, but it was nearly full. With such a big musical theatre following in Ireland, this is a pity. Thankfully, this didn't put off our troupe, and at the end the small cast received a huge standing ovation and rightly so. They choose to pick great songs and rose to the challenge excellently. As did the band, playing away brilliantly, and perhaps a pity they were tucked into the wings.
I will keep an eye out for Muse's next production, and that they seem to want to take on shows that others perhaps cannot, or won't risk, putting on. This was a one night only event, so you missed it, but for those of us there, well, had they come out and said 'Do you mind if we do it all again?' there would have been no objections.