It’s going to be a quick one tonight, I have to be up early tomorrow.
Anyway, today I wanted to talk about the musical “Songs for A New World.” It’s a favorite of mine, and it’s mesage is I think something many people can relate to.
Jason Robert Brown, (composed the score for “Parade”) wrote this musical in the 90s. It’s unlike traditional shows in that the musical is a collections of songs, with no real “characters” as we would normally think of them, and no actual plot. The overarching theme of the show is this: How do we as humans manage when transitioning from the old to the new in life? How do we deal with the moments when just when we think everything’s all set and we’re pritty secure in our relationships, jobs, ETC, everything changes. Each song in the show deals with a particular scene in which someone is going through that challenge, and shows the different, helpful or sometimes harmful ways of coping.
One thing I like about the show is that though there aren’t “characters” in the traditional sense, each actor goes through a transformation from the beginning of the show to the end through the songs that they sing. For example, one of the women starts the show singing, “Just one Step,” in which she plays a woman threatening to jump out her apartment window in order to manipulate her husband. Then she plays a woman who thinks she knows what she wants in a marriage, but soon discovers, ” Be careful what you Wish for,” in Stars i and The Moon. Next she plays, of all people, Mrs. Clause! In this song she expresses her bitter almost hateful attitude towards Good old St. Nick. Finally she plays Betsy Ross, sewing the American Flag as a way to fuil her hope that her husband and children will return home safely from the revolutionary war. So obveously, though these characters are by no means related, one can see the journey the actor takes from beginning to end.
I think the last song summs up the broad solution for what we can do in those hard times of transition. “Hear my song” sends such a clear mesage of hope. It talks about the importance of reaching out to one another and offering and receiving support. It emphasizes community, and holding the wise positive words of others close to our hearts when we feel most lost and hopeless. This boosts our spirets, and allows us to make it through the hard times knowing we are not alone.
In my own personal experience I know this to be true. For much of my teenage years, and into young adulthood, I felt very much alone. I’d say since I came to college, and certainly in the last year or so, this is changing for the better. I have a group of people, that’s growing steadily, where I know that I can reach out to them if I need to, and I would hope they would reach out to me for support as well. Having this circle of support in my life has improoved things for me so much. A friend of mine, (a social worker with such a way with words,) says that humans are “pack animals,” and not meant to go through life alone. This is totally true. Isn’t that why we’re always on our cell phones and e-mail so much? We have such a strong need to be connected to people and feel a part of things. That’s why we have support groups, and 12 step groups, and why people are always talking to one another, even strangers on the street sometimes. To me, whenever I listen to “Hear my Song,” I am reminded that I can get through my problems as long as I have the support of others. And I’m reminded of the value of connection in general in people’s lives.
I may post some youtube links to the music, and a link to a very good analysis of the show, (the guy who wrote it does a much better job explaining this than I did,) at a later time. Now it’s really time for me to sign off. Have a good night all!