Songs For A New World at the London Palladium

Every trip to the theatre currently feels so special, living without it for several months really makes you appreciate the whole experience of attending the theatre. Songs For A New World not only embodied this feeling but was a wonderful piece of theatre in its own right.

For those that don’t know Songs For A New World, it is a show around the theme of decisions and the moment around it. Each song has a strong narrative of it’s own and it focuses on 4 performers who play the simply named Man 1, Man 2, Woman 1 and Woman 2. Taking these roles are the musical theatre icons, Rachel Tucker, Rachel Johns, David Hunter and Cedric Neal.

Rachel Tucker took on songs which not only showcased her incredible voice but her ability to add bundles of personality to a role. She played everyone from Mrs Claus to a woman threatening to jump from a window to get the attention of her rich husband. Rachel John has a huge voice and made her range of songs sound vocally easily. Her rendition of ‘I’m Not Afraid of Anything,’ was touching in particular and the defiant undercurrent of the song felt more relevant than ever.

Turning to the men, Cedric Neal sang ‘King of the World,’ and ‘Flying Home’ whose stunning voice is incredibly versatile with performing songs with a soul feel as well as a more traditional musical theatre styles. Finally David Hunter is another performer whose personality bursts through on stage with an infectious smile. One of the huge positives about the casting was just how different these performers are but how perfectly their voices and personalities worked together. It was therefore a real joy to see some of the duets and group numbers.

I would also be remiss if I did not mention the incredible solo by Shem Omari James who delivered ‘The Steam Train,’ the Act 1 finale. This was the perfect choice for the graduate who immediately won the audience over with his combination of sass and incredible vocals.

The production itself was staged with social distancing in mind but luckily this show is predominantly made up of solos. When there was the odd duet or quartet you could almost forget that social distancing is a requirement with inventive staging. The stage was kept simple, with ample space and objects such as a ladder and a flight case used to add levels and add an extra dimension to the space.

The performers were accompanied by six talented musicians spread out across the stage under the musical direction of Adam Hoskins and a small choir from Mountview’s 3rd year for the final number. The lighting, designed by Jack Knowles ranged from stunning dramatic lighting to a simple ghost light left on centre stage.

The combination of seeing these 4 incredible musical theatre performers together on one stage, the music of Jason Robert Brown and creative staging and lighting meant that even without Covid this would have been a special show but add into the mix Covid and this really was a night to remember.

Songs for a New World Was only on for 2 performances however Lambert Jackson Productions who produced this show have got numerous other upcoming shows so check out their website to see what else they have to offer.

If you like this review you might also like my review of Pippin, The Last 5 Years and Jesus Christ Superstar.

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