‘Songs for a New World’ rings in new year for Triune Entertainment

The powerful and emotionally charged musical by Tony winner Jason Robert Brown opens January 19 at ARTfactory.

As the theater community rings in the new year, Triune Entertainment will bring its next production, Songs for a New World, to the Wind River Theater in the historic ARTfactory of Manassas. I had the pleasure of meeting Director Matt Moore and some of his team to preview the special production before its opening night on January 19.

Songs for a New World is a powerful and emotionally charged musical from Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown. Moore has assembled an award-winning team for this production. He plans to transcend traditional storytelling through the innovative technical design from Dan Martin and an exceptional live orchestra conducted by Chris Smith. “I have loved this show for many years, but now I feel the stars have truly aligned for this production to happen with these talented collaborators,” says Moore. “We are excited to bring Songs for a New World to the Wind River Theater in Manassas, and I know it will leave a lasting impression on our audiences.”

Shakil Azizi (Man 1), Cate Murray (Woman 1), Sarah Bright (Woman 2), and Josh Ewald (Man 2) appearing in ’Songs for a New World.’

Vocal Director Carolyn Scott is looking forward to the musical storytelling of the four performers and live orchestra. The interconnected songs come together to explore universal themes of love, choice, and the human experience. According to composer Jason Robert Brown, Songs for a New World is “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.” The production promises to be a visual and auditory feast featuring four favorite DMV talents: Shakil Azizi, Cate Murray, Sarah Bright, and Joshua Ewalt.

Shakil Azizi joins the cast as Man 1 and sings one of the standout songs of the show: “King of the World.” Azizi was most recently seen as Frederick Barrett in Titanic the Musical with Good Shepherd Players. Other critically acclaimed roles in the Northern Virginia area include Hot-Blades Harry in Workhouse Art Center’s Urinetown, Henrik in Reston Community Players’ A Little Night Music, and Clopin in The Arlington Players’ The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Azizi also performed internationally as Chase/Jake in Paw Patrol Live! Race to the Rescue.

Cate Murray plays Woman 1 and will move audiences with her performances of “Christmas Lullaby” and “I’m Not Afraid of Anything.” Murray is a Virginia native and a graduate of James Madison University. She has a strong affinity for historically informed performances and has portrayed several dramatic roles such as Magda Sorel in Menotti’s The Consul and Third Lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, as well as comedic roles including the Faerie Queen in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe and Marthe in Gounod’s Faust. Murray was a Young Artist with Opera Roanoke and also served as a musical theater composer/arranger, vocal director, and music teacher in the Warrenton area. She recently vocal-directed Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Once Upon a Mattress at Fauquier Community Theatre.

Sarah Bright as Woman 2 truly shines in the number “Stars and the Moon.” Bright is a recent transplant to the Northern Virginia area after 15 years in the Chicago theater scene. She has many international credits in Germany and the United Kingdom in productions of Proof as Catherine, Rabbit Hole as Becca, Bus Stop as Grace, Soldier’s Heart as Casey Johnson, Company as Harry, and City of Angels as Gabbi/Bobbi. Local audiences may recognize her from her recent portrayal of Christine Colgate in Fauquier Community Theatre’s production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Rounding out the talented quartet is Joshua Ewalt as Man 2. Ewalt is a Northern Virginia local and works with several theater and choral groups, most recently Upper Room Theater and Gainesville Community Choir. His previous theatrical roles include Mr. George Banks in Mary Poppins, Cornelius Hackl in Hello, Dolly!, Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, Sebastian in Rodgers and Hammerstien’s Cinderella, and Cinderella’s Prince in Into the Woods with Upper Room Theatre Ministry. Ewalt has several beautiful vocal moments in the show, especially in “The World Was Dancing.” He is looking forward to bringing Jason Robert Brown’s well-loved classic to life, along with his fellow performers.

This production comes on the heels of Triune’s critically acclaimed world premiere of Peter Filichia’s Larry the Big-Time Broadway Producer. Triune is an independent, non-Equity production company dedicated to providing artists with opportunities to direct and perform in exciting and original ways. Triune’s mission is to create exceptional entertainment experiences while being respectful to its audiences and participants and to provide opportunity and access to the best in live production, publishing, training and education, and beyond.

Songs for a New World plays January 19, 20, and 21, 2024, presented by Triune Entertainment performing at the Wind River Theater in the ARTfactory of Manassas at 9419 Battle Street, Manassas, VA 20110. Purchase tickets ($20–$30) online. For more information contact Matt Moore at [email protected].


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