Songs for a new world

YOUNGSTOWN -- The Millennial Theatre Company has announced its online production of Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World will be available for streaming, beginning Oct. 24.

The show features Ashland natives Seth Jerabek and Sheldon Markel, who were able to join the production of more than 40 voices, since it was rehearsed and recorded in a digital format.

The show also includes Broadway’s Lisa Howard, star of Broadway’s It Shoulda Been You, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Escape to Margharitaville, 9 to 5, and more.

The production is directed by Joe Asente with music direction by Savannah Florkowski. Tickets for the production are available before Oct. 24 by visiting millennialtheatre.org and using presale code MTC to unlock the event. Starting October 24, the video can be purchased without a presale code.

Streaming access is $20 for a single ticket (single viewer in a single location) and $30 for a family ticket (multiple viewers in one location). Once streaming access is purchased, the streaming code provided will be active for 48 hours after the play button is hit for the first time. The production will be available to stream for a limited time only.

Songs for a New World tells many stories about choices.

From below the deck of a sailing ship coming to America, to a ledge 57 stories above Fifth Avenue, the show discusses a startling array of characters that range from a young man who has determined that basketball is his ticket out of the ghetto to a woman whose dream of marrying rich nabs her the man of her dreams... and a soulless marriage.

"We meet characters who have a decision to make that will impact the remainder of their lives. It's about one moment. It's about hitting the wall and having to make a choice... or take a stand... or turn around and go back. These are the stories and characters of today, the Songs for a New World," show organizers said.

Asente, who also edited the project, is excited for the debut.

“We knew how we wanted this to go, but it ended up being so much more than we ever thought possible. While all of the video was recorded in isolation, we edited it together to give it a very cohesive feel.

"It is a bit nerve wracking as a director to hand over so much control of each scene to the actors to complete on their own, but every single soloist poured so much into each number that they became even grander than I ever could have imagined.

"This production is nothing like the other online shows that have played online during the shutdown, as it plays much more like a movie, using multiple locations, scenic elements, costumes, and green screens to bring the world of the show to life in a more cinematic way," the director said.

Any actors that appear together were either already in close contact with one another prior to filming or were living together at the time of filming, which kept the entire cast safe throughout the rehearsal and filming process.

For scenes that required large group numbers, such as the number “The River Won’t Flow”, which Asente chose to stage as a bar scene, green screens were utilized to place actors together within the scene.

MTC’s production was filmed and rehearsed independently, allowing for actors beyond the Mahoning Valley to audition and participate, including actors from two countries and eight states, as well as Howard.

“We are so excited to have Ms. Howard for this production. I have been such a fan of hers since watching her perform on the Tony Awards in 2015 for It Shoulda Been You, and now having the chance to work with her is something I never thought possible," Asente said.

"I have never heard her song, “I’m Not Afraid,” more beautifully sung,” Asente said. “While Ms. Howard’s number is certainly a highlight of the show, the entire cast is truly one of the most talented we have ever assembled. Some of our actors have appeared in national tours, while others have performed in cruise ships and theme parks, bringing a whole new level of talent to this production.

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