As the saying goes, the show must go on.
And that will be the case for the Vocal Music and Theater departments at Sapulpa High School as they present Songs for a New World starting this week.
Songs for a New World is a song cycle that features a series of character songs that are united by a similar theme: the moment of decision – the point at which you transition from the old to the new.
During the spring of 2020, the students were able to perform last year’s musical, Freaky Friday, just before the coronavirus pandemic impacted the state and forced lockdowns. With that in mind, Vocal Music Director Gina Myers and Theater Director Becky Braswell looked at shows that included some flexibility that would allow this year’s production to be performed.
“Theatre has been crippled in this time of COVID and we needed to come into this knowing that we may lose kids or we may not be allowed to rehearse together like we usually do,” said Mrs. Braswell.
Mrs. Braswell remembered seeing Songs for a New World a few years back at the International Thespian Festival in Nebraska. After researching shows and reading countless descriptions of musical revues, she and Mrs. Myers thought it would be a good fit, especially during the pandemic.
“Because of its structure, it makes it ideal for this year. It’s a series of 16 songs that are both independent and interdependent, many of which are solos. This means that if someone is quarantined at the last minute, we can cut that song if we have to and it won’t dramatically affect the flow of the story. Because the characters aren’t really interacting on stage, it will be easy to block it in a socially distanced way as needed,” said Mrs. Myers.
Cutting and blocking aren’t the only differences in this year’s show. In the event an audience isn’t able to attend, live streaming rights have been purchased. Patrons will be able to watch the show live, or on-demand for up to one year, on www.showtix4u.com.
Songs for a New World is a two-act show that includes 16 songs. It’s a shorter show than what the high school typically presents. It runs between 90 minutes and two hours long. While the off-Broadway production of the show was performed by only four people, most high school productions have expanded it into many parts with an ensemble of 10 to 20 for the show.
“It isn’t a traditional story musical. Songs for a New World has incredible music and interesting characters, but it doesn’t have a main character or much if any, dialogue,” said Mrs. Myers. “In many ways, this show may feel more like a concert. There will be costumes, characters, and set design, etc., but the flow from song to song without dialogue may feel more like a concert. It features amazing music with pop, jazz, and gospel-style influences.”
Of course, no musical would be possible without the crew behind the scenes. The directors said they work hard to include as many students as they can and not just for those who appear on stage.
“I have theatre students who are excited to take on the roles of Stage Manager, Costume Coordinator, Lighting Crew, Stage Hands, and whatever other jobs come up. So, the musical even provides important opportunities to students who don’t sing well,” said Mrs. Braswell.
The directors said the students are excited about the show, which they said is very much like a sports season and one of the highlights of their year.
“You spend a lot of time working together as a team toward a common goal and by the end, you feel as though you are a family. And, you’ve created this amazing work of live art together,” said Mrs. Myers. “It’s a unique experience and I’m thrilled to be able to offer it for our students every year. It’s important to me to keep that happening this year.”
“The students were relieved that we would still put on a show. And when they found out what show we were doing, they listened to the music and got very excited,” said Mrs. Braswell. “They’ve been talking about designs and characters and costumes with me since I announced it.”
Songs for a New World will premiere on Thursday, March 4 with showings on March 5 and 6. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m.