With all the opportunities available for young singers to perform and compete in programs run by grown-ups, it is hard to imagine who among them could possibly find the time to create something on their own. Yet that’s exactly what’s happening right now at the Granada, where Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World will be presented in the intimate surroundings of the second-floor McCune Founders Room. Initiated and executed entirely by teenagers, Songs has received support from the Jurkowitz Center for Arts Education at the Granada and the SJL Foundation, and proceeds from ticket sales will go to benefit the upcoming Santa Barbara/Kotor Sister City project, in which a group of young S.B. performers will travel to Montenegro to participate in Kotor’s Festival of Theatre for Children. The show, which Brown wrote when he was just 25, chronicles the turning points and key moments in young people’s lives through witty, genre-defying music of significant harmonic and rhythmic complexity. The show’s best-known song, “Stars and the Moon,” has become a cabaret staple in the 15 years since it was written, and the romantic duet “I’d Give It All for You” scores high in the piano-bar popularity contest.
For the Granada, the show represents the culmination of more than a year’s work by Laura Inks, who has championed the idea of student-centered productions. For the students involved, the show represents a welcome departure from the regimented atmosphere that often prevails in standard high school productions. The director of Songs for a New World is Kameron Tarlow, a Laguna Blanca School graduate who now attends Emerson College in Boston. Tarlow has been working with the cast via Skype, while three high school students (San Marcos senior Mia Burridge, Santa Barbara High junior Allison Lewis, and Laguna Blanca junior Cameron Platt) are handling the task of directing the show onsite. Speaking with Burridge and Lewis about the show, I could tell that the experience was just what these young theater devotees had been hoping for—instead of performing Rent, they were living it.
Songs for a New World takes place on Sunday, March 13, at the Granada Theatre (1213 State St.) at 2 and 7 p.m. For tickets and information, call 899-2222.