The Newest Thespian Challenge: Songs for a New World


By Thea Gonzales


Niles West Theatre will present its first show of the year, “Songs for a New World”,  September 11 and 12 at 4:00 and 7:30 PM.

Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. Niles West Theatre’s newest challenge features 16 different narratives with each story condensed into approximately 3 minutes. Within 2 acts, 8 different performers play a myriad of roles with no character repeated, only a song per story.

Rather than one major plotline, the musical branches off into the lives of several different characters, all of whom are captured through song at a moment of pivotal importance: a decision that totally affects the outcome of the character’s story.

“You don’t really have one specific character, so you have to find a different character within each piece. Finding a new individual within each song and trying to find out who they are and what they’ve been through in just one song will be a challenge,” junior and cast member Stephanie Gubin, said.

As always, the company wants the audience to leave the theater with a little piece of the show.

“The entire show is about the choices you make in life and how one choice can change everything about who you are and what you’re doing. Hopefully, after audience members see the show, they’ll reevaluate their own lives and own choices. Because there are so many story arcs within the musical, at least one will resonate with each person. That’s what I think is the best part of having so many different storylines in one show– it gives the audience so much more to connect with,” sophomore and cast member Sarah Zasso, said.

“Songs for a New World” is different from the conventional musical in more ways than one: in addition to its lack of a central story, most– if not all– of  the show will be performed through song. While theatrical in style, “Songs” abandons the archetypical dialogue/music combo and instead is “like a musical theatre concert,” as senior and sound lead Asha Lodhia, likes to call it.

But don’t let that put you off from seeing it; with the intricate harmonies and musical stylings of famed composer Jason Robert Brown, the sound of Niles West’s thespians on stage will be sure to play your heart’s strings. Sophomore and cast member Anthony Saldana wants the audience to “leave with a sense of ‘wow, what did I just watch? That was beautiful.’”

With the beauty of the show also comes the enormous responsibility that is given to the students involved. “Songs for a New World” is this year’s Thespian-exclusive production, meaning that the entire company is composed of members of Niles West’s Thespian Honor Society. All of the shows at Niles West are student-built, but Thespian shows take that principle to a whole new level by giving students the freedom to design every aspect of the show– from costumes, to lights, to sound, set, and some directing.

“I think [Thespian shows] are important because they allow our most dedicated students a chance to tackle difficult texts and more challenging positions…we should have some area where the creme of our department gets to showcase their talents in a difficult and challenging production,” director Andrew Sinclair said.