Bethany Christine Elkin (I Love a Piano) directs the Aug. 4-12 lab presentation at the York Theatre. Justin Fischer is musical director. Songs for a New World has music and lyrics by Brown. The production is part of the York's lab initiative, which seeks to nurture emerging performing talent.
The cast includes Marymount Manhattan College graduates Diana Buchwald (An American Tragedy), Ben Garrett (Rags), Krista Paolella (Edges: A Song Cycle) and Rafael Rodriguez (Evita).
"I have a big love of this show and of the WPA Theatre, where it originated — produced by the extraordinary Kyle Renick," said producer Pat Hoag Simon, who produces the show in association with the York. "To think that Jason Robert Brown was 20 years old when he wrote these songs and that he and his director, Daisy Prince, assembled such a cast! The original production with Billy Porter, Jessica Molaskey, Andrea Burns and Brooks Ashmanskas ran for a little under a month at the WPA but the resulting cast recording became a phenomenon. This will be a chance for people to experience the show with an exciting new cast! Too, this will highlight the fact that young writers are sometimes overlooked when they first debut."
Here's how the musical is billed: "Songs for a New World resonates now more than ever. As the generation of the New Millennium we were told we could be anything we wanted to be. We were encouraged to dream big, because the world was at our fingertips. However, faced with economic challenges we found ourselves just struggling to survive, let alone thrive. We have found ourselves navigating through a new and uncharted world. We cannot be afraid or let the fear of failure keep us from charging through life's challenges. We must take responsibility for our own happiness. We must 'hold on, hold fast' and allow the music of our souls to propel and transport us through life's greatest moments. The moment is here…and the time is now."
Standouts in the musical are "I'm Not Afraid of Anything," "Stars and the Moon," "She Cries," "I'd Give It All For You" and "Hear My Song." Daisy Prince directed the original 1995 Off-Broadway production of Songs for a New World that first received a Toronto workshop prior to its New York debut. It premiered at England's Bridewell Theatre in 2001. Brown is the Tony-winning composer-lyricist of Parade. His musicals also include 13 and The Last Five Years, which will receive a 2013 Off-Broadway revival from Second Stage Theatre, as well as the upcoming Broadway-aimed musicals Honeymoon in Vegas and The Bridges of Madison County.
The York has also announced an Aug. 12 talkback featuring original director Daisy Prince, original cast member Jessica Molaskey and WPA artistic director and producer Kyle Renick.
Tickets are priced at $15 and available at yorktheatre.org or by calling (212) 935-5820, or in person at the box office at the York Theatre at Saint Peter's (Citicorp Building, entrance on East 54th Street, just east of Lexington Avenue).