ABET’s Songs for a New World

December 10, 2013
3 mins read
ABET's "Songs For A New World" with Jennifer Paulk, Tyler Harwood, Madeline Hill, Hector Gonzalez

MADALINE HILL performs the most humorous number in the show with “Surabaya-Santa (which is a parody of a song from a 1929 German musical ” Happy End,” by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill). Ms. Hill is Mrs. Claus, a German torch singer, whose song is about the faults and flaws of her husband Santa, who, according to her, was a naughty, naughty guy himself. The second number that she sang, also a solo, was “Just One Step,” in which she is a woman standing on the window ledge of a skyscraper, 57 stories above the city streets. She relates complaints about her husband that have driven her to this contemplated fatal step, but interestingly enough is concerned about how such a death would affect her children. Ms. Hill came back to the world of musical theatre last summer in ABET’s “The Last Five Years.” which was also written by Jason Robert Brown. The Dual Critics can remember the days when she was appearing in roles at The Foundation Academy as the leading lady. We thank her for sharing her wonderful vocal talents with Jacksonville audiences once again.

HECTOR GONZALEZ TORO, whom we have previously reviewed, has made a number of stage appearances on our local stages, and in addition is frequently a featured soloist at local churches. We recall his excellent performance as Demon Devil in “Once On This Island” on ABET’s stage and as the Pastry Chef in “The Drowsy Chaperone” at Theatre Jacksonville. You may have heard him sing before but never as in this production; he almost raises the rafters of the theater. Two of his solos, “The Steam Train” and “King of the World,” are very different and display his tremendous versatility.

ZEEK SMITH is both the Director and the Musical Director of this excellent production. He can be heard leading his orchestra on the piano, with STEFANIE BATSON (Synthesizer), DAMON MARTIN (Bass) ALEX LeMERCHANT SMITH (Percussion) and MICHAEL TAYLOR (Drums). Mr. Smith also designed the set, with BRYAN FRANK as Light Designer and LEANNE GULLO as Stage Manager.

In conclusion, may we say that theatre is meant to take its audience on a journey, and this is certainly an interesting one. Mr. Smith cast this show in an exemplary manner with performers who have the ability to understand human needs and to see their consequences. The entire ensemble and orchestra performed the complex songs with confidence, passion, sensitivity, and precise dynamic shading.

Plan a theatre adventure and see “Songs For A New World,” which continues through December 22. Visit abettheatre.com or call 904-249-7177 for reservations.

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The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country.

They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.

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