Greensburg Civic Theatre makes change to ‘Songs for a New World’
With a rallying call that “the show must go on” — even if it’s not the same show — Greensburg Civic Theatre announced a change to its May production and will close its 67 th season with a musical that has a fitting message to “never lose hope.”
GCT said the talent pool at recent auditions prompted the community theater company to replace its originally scheduled “Sister Act” with “Songs for a New World.”
“We needed a show that was easy technical-wise with a small cast and this was the first that came to mind,” said Becky Ziegler-Koch, who is directing the new musical.
Her biggest challenge was with the music in the show, which was written by Tony Award-winner Jason Robert Brown (“Parade,” “The Bridges of Madison County”). “‘Songs for a New World’ is a song cycle, which means it is just a series of songs one after another without scenes or dialogue. The music is incredibly challenging with very tight harmonies in four parts,” she said.
Also, the show is written for a cast of four, but due to time constraints and a short rehearsal schedule, “we decided to double the cast to lighten the load a little for the performers,” she said.
The cast includes Shannon Riley and Payton Dell of Greensburg, Becca Mitchell of Latrobe, Andy Hayes of Murrysville, Matt Tracy of Mt. Pleasant, Grace Phillips of Pittsburgh, Azaria Oglesby of Catonsville, Md., and Victor Collymore-Bey of New York City.
The musical is basically about making the right choices in life, according to Ziegler-Koch.
Hopes and dreams
“It’s about relationships, it’s about self-awareness, it’s about hopes and dreams and perseverance,” she said. “We follow these characters through major moments in their lives and we see how they deal with making their choices. The message it sends is to never lose hope. Tomorrow is a brand new day and we all have it within ourselves to change our own lives and the lives of others.”
Mitchell said the show is unique and different from anything else she has done.
“My biggest challenge was definitely the music; it’s so intricate and difficult, yet very beautiful and a joy to sing,” she said. “It was something that I didn’t mind putting a lot of work into because it’s really spectacular music.”
Riley said all of the songs focus on the theme of choices, and all of the actors portray different characters in each number. She is featured in “Just One Step,” “Hear my Song” and “Final Transition: The New World.”
“It is important for an audience member to know that this show will be performed with minimal props, set and costuming. The point is to create an intimate experience for those on stage and in the audience,” she said.
Variety of musical styles
The show features songs in a range of musical styles, including gospel, rock and roll and rhythm and blues.
“There is definitely something for everyone,” the director said. “If you have never seen this show, or this type of musical, you definitely should. You’re gonna laugh, you’re gonna cry and you’re going to be inspired.”
Theatergoers who purchased tickets for “Sister Act” are encouraged to retain their original tickets for “Songs for a New World,” according to the GCT.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.