Whist 2017 was still a concept in out minds, I was approached by the chairman of the Stone Revellers Theatre Group, Leo Capernaros, who told me he was putting on a production of Jason Robert Brown's Songs for a New World. The music is rather unusual: elements of jazz, gospel, blues, pop, classical, and many other things besides, performed by a small band. And, whilst looking for a pianist who could make something of this music, he came across my business card in his pocket, which he'd picked up at an event I'd performed at.
The Stone Revellers are well-known for making innovative use of their small theatre, with the most enormous effort going into the set design, incorporating an unusual lay-out to make the best of the space. It worked wonderfully.
Songs for a New World is not like most other musicals, in that it doesn't really have a 'story' so much as a theme: a theme of change, of a turning point in different characters' lives. Like everyone involved in the producton, you probably haven't heard of any of the music, either, but I would recommend you look it up and have a listen.The score is written for just four vocalists and a small band of no more than five instruments; the Revellers arranged it for nine singers backed up by a three-piece band.
The cast gave some excellent performances, almost completely selling out over the four nights. Co-director Harri Bailey describes it better than I do: "You will hear stories of sadness, happiness, regret and wonder. You will see each character only once, whether at a point of decision, a time of change or a quiet moment of reflection".