ORTVILLE — Ten West Center for the Arts’ production of “Songs for a New World” opens on the deck of a Spanish sailing ship in 1492 and ends on the 57th floor of a New York high-rise as it explores the theme of choice.
The four-person cast of Ryan England, Patrick Cramer, Abby Morris and Emily Tritle carries the show through 16 separate vignettes, all told in song, about that one moment — hitting the wall and having to choose.
The show is done entirely in song, director Andrew Okerson said.
“Each musical number is a scene with a theme of the moment of decision,” he said. “Sometimes the audience knows what the character decides to do and sometimes not.”
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“Songs for a New World,” the first musical by Jason Robert Brown — who went on to win a Tony for “Parade” — was written in 1995. It includes the musical genres of rock, blues, jazz, funk, gospel and pop to tell the individual stories.
What Okerson likes best about the show is its human element.
“The show is full of stuff that every single person in the world can relate to: issues with family, relationships, money. It’s about how we all fit into the grand scheme of things. It is an individual look into peoples’ lives, with the bigger picture of a bright outlook,” he said.
Abby Morris, who plays the part of Woman No. 1 in the production, was a part of Ten West’s previous production of “Little Shop of Horrors.” A theater major from Franklin College, this is her 35th community theater production. Morris especially loves the opening number.
“It’s about possibilities and how things can change so quickly,” Morris said. “The music is beautiful, and everyone should have a chance to hear it live.”
The actors are accompanied on stage by a live band made up of five musicians: Crystal Harris on piano; Denton Sutherlin on drums; Cameron Hansen on second piano; Luken Rigsbee on bass; and Kyle Aronson on percussion. With Okerson as director, brother Matthew Okerson as the lighting designer and sound technician, and Kayla Kollmann as stage manager, it’s a very small staff that runs the 90-minute production.
“Songs for a New World” is Ten West’s first all-adult production. Founded in 2008, the company has put on eight productions, including “Godspell,” “The Nerd,” and “Little Shop of Horrors,” all with youth and teen actors.
Okerson calls this production an expansion.
“We love working with kids and teens, but this show is definitely PG-13 with language and strong themes. We wanted to offer something that adults would enjoy being in and watching,” Okerson said.
Okerson calls “Songs for a New World” a visual treat, despite the venue’s limited stage space.
“We use a lot of video projection and moving lights to help tell the story,” Okerson said.
The curtain goes up at 8 p.m. Friday, July 24 and Saturday, July 25 at Ten West Center for the Arts, 10 W. Church St. in Fortville. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com.