Carrie OLuiver (Woman 1)
Megan McQueen (Woman 2)
Isaac Quiroga (Man 1)
Chris Rippel (Man 2)
Issac Quiroga with L to R: dancers Candace Craig-Hardie, Carlos Saucedo and Alyx Sanchez
L to R: Isaac Quirogs, Carrie Oliver, Megan McQueen and Chris Rippel
Jun 08-Jun 11, 2006
|House Manager Coordinator|
|Music & Lyrics|
|Set And Lighting Design|
'Songs for a New World' tells a story of hope
- By Joel Courtney, Las Cruces Bulletin
No Strings Theatre Company's lastest presentation is the musical menagerie, "Songs for a New World" by Jason Robert Brown.
According to Megan McQueen, director of "Songs for a New World" and actor in the play, Brown had written bits of several musicals, but never finished any of them. In an attempt to get known in the musical theatre world, Brown combined songs from all of his musicals into one masterpiece that sends a message "of hope and perserverance to the audience
The cast is composed of McQueen, Carrie Oliver, Chris Rippel and Isaac Quiroga playing various parts and performing vocally and Candace Craig-Hardie, Alyx Sanchez and Carlos Saucedo as accompanying dancers.
The cast is superb, shifting through various roles as easily and quickly as.they shift through costume changes. Each singer seems to be cast in songs that hold similar elements. Oliver, with her more classical voice, sings songs of love while McQueen uses her ability with accents and passion to sing the feelings of a jilted wife, Santa's ignored lover and even a Revolutionary flagmaker. Rippel has a jazzier sound, which he expresses in songs about the pain of relationships, pondering whether they are worth the possibility of getting hurt. Quiroga, who has returned to Las Cruces from New York, displays a wide vocal range and the ability to portray a wide range of characters, playing parts from a Spanish ship captain circa 1492 to a basketball superstar hopeful, "The Steam Train."
"To have an opportunity to sing this music is priceless. In New York life is so busy and so professional," Quiroga said. "I'm checking a dream off my list today."
Most importantly, the cast displays wonderful harmony. They feel comfortable working together, and it shows in the quality of the performance.
"This play is super-modern, and there's not much opportunity in town for that," McQueen said. "All the people involved are well-trained, so we're very fortunate for that."
The dancers add a nice accent to the performance, where traditionally the singers would do all the dancing. TThe choreography is fun, and the dancers move in perfect harmony with the other performers. Craig-Hardie provided original choreography for the dancers and -singers, which adds to the emotion of each piece.
"I really challenged them, but the singers picked up i he movements really fast," Craig-Hardie said.
The unseen stars of the Friday performance were the band, with Robert Randall on piano, Trae Blanco on key-hoards, Sarah Rede on drums, Daniella Briseno on percussion and Jesus Villa on bass. The band, behind a black sheet, provides wonderful musical accompaniment to each song.
Performances aside, the musical leaves the listener happy and filled with the message of overcoming whatever obstacles stand in your path. Without a storyline to hold the piece together, it may not be for everyone, but if you're looking for a different kind of theatre experience than the usual Las Cruces fair, "Songs for a New World" is a must see.
Veteran Cast to take audience to a 'New World'
- By Amanda L. Husson, Sun-News
Every so often, the serendipitous combination of just the right show - a contemporary and relevant exploration of;, choices and their consequences - and just the right cast - a collection of talented and experienced performers - comes along to kick the local theater scene up a. notch.
It's something to look forward to tonight, when No Strings Theatre Company opens its latest production, "Songs For a New World," by Jason Robert Brown and directed by Megan McQueen. It's the first production in the area of the 1996 musical with a massive cult following.
A revue that's more theme than plot, "Songs For a New World" places four actors in different characters and situations, with music styles ranging from light spirituals to funk and rock.
"The characters are being put into a difficult position and being forced to make a choice," McQueen said. "There's an overarching journey in which the characters find resolution."
She said the exploration of relationships in situations both mundane and extreme will resonate with audiences. "At first, I thought it was particularly relevant to me and others my age, post-college and making important choices about our futures," McQueen said. "But after spending more time with it, I realized it feels relevant to any age group. That's just how life is."
Brown's music, with its complex harmonies and rich, beautiful melodies, is challenging for the cast and accompanying instrumentalists, McQueen said, but the group is up to the task. "It's kind of a remarkable assortment of people," she said of the cast, which, in addition to McQueen, includes Carrie Oliver, Chris Rippel and Isaac Quiroga, and the other musicians, lead by graduate student Robert Randall on piano. "We've all studied music extensively."
All the performers have impressive credentials. McQueen has held leading roles in regional productions of "Man of La Mancha," "Cabaret" and "The King and I," among others, as well as in Pennsylvania and has quite a few directing credits under her belt, including "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."
Oliver, who also serves as music director for "Songs For a New World," holds a master's degree in musical theater performance and has been featured in numerous regional productions and a national tour.
Rippel, a graduate of University of New Mexico's theater arts program, has appeared locally with NSTC, Las Cruces Com-munity Theater, Dona Ana Lyric Opera and lo-fi productions.
Quiroga, a New Mexico State University graduate, is attending graduate school at New York University, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member. Quiroga said returning to Las Cruces for this theater experience was a no-brainer. "This show has always been a dream of mine to do," he said. "I would jump on a plane any time to do a show like this. The people that I'm working with are consummate professionals."
McQueen said the dancing added by choreographer Can-dace Craig-Hardie and dancers Alyx Sanchez and Carlos Sauce-do really enhances the presentation. "There are several songs that call for movement," McQueen said. "The choreography is really dramatic and appropriate to the music. I can't imagine it being done without dance."
No seating plan has been posted.