January 31, 2023

By Sarah Carol-Hughes | Assistant Business & Tech Editor

California Baptist University’s fall musical “Songs for a New World,” with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, gives relatable characters, a specific setting and an overarching plot to a piece of abstract musical theater.

The setting is a house called “Safe Harbor,” a place where the downtrodden can live while they they try to get back on their feet. As the play progresses, the audience glimpses the struggles of each person living there, as expressed through the songs they sing.

Lisa Lyons, the musical’s director, said she believes in the powerful messages behind the lyrics.

“It’s got a great message… and the harmonies and music just grab you,” Lyons said. “There’s a lot of both comedy and drama. One (message) is that we are all looking for a new world and new beginning. God gives us second chances and we are all part of the family of God.”

The opening number, “Songs for a New World,” includes the entire cast and ensemble. The lyrics act as a prologue for what is to come, painting a picture of the emotional and physical struggles that must be overcome in life.

Kelsie Piini, senior theater major, portrays the character Jenny, a woman who is trying to deal with her own tragic circumstances.

“(The musical) is reflective…. It’s about opportunities and the choices you have to make,” Piini said. “(Jenny) is a big ball of energy that uses the joy of Christmas to mask her pain.”

Each character is fully fleshed out and unique, and the dialogue is woven seamlessly in between the songs.

Bryan Richardson, senior theater major, said it is the songs that tell the story.

“The music is just so powerful,” Richardson said. “(It tells) more of the story than (just words) ever could.”

Richardson plays a former business guru down on his luck.“Songs for A New World” closes this weekend, with performances Oct. 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m. and a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. General admission is $15, and matinees, seniors, CBU staff, faculty and alumni admission

is $12.

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