The Educational Theatre Foundation (ETF) is the beneficiary of the passion project of two industry veterans who have teamed up to honor the 25th anniversary of Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World, featuring one of musical theatre’s most inspiring finales, Hear My Song. Performer Jill Marie Burke and music director Brent Crayon enlisted the support of director Alan Bailey, and together they assembled Broadway performers, regional theatre standouts and high school musical students, to record a tribute video, honoring the work of Jason Robert Brown and benefiting the Educational Theatre Foundation.
Tony award winner Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World debuted Off-Broadway at the WPA Theatre in 1995. As his first produced show, it has a theme that resonates 25 years later. “It’s 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,” said Brown, who started doing musicals in high school. “Then I just kept wanting to do them. I felt at home in the theater, in that way that you are supposed to if that’s the kind of person you are. It is gratifying to know that this version of the song will directly benefit a new generation of theatre students.”
Jill Marie Burke, co-collaborator on this production, continued, “This song, with its message that it will be okay, resonates with all of us in the theatre community, and with people everywhere. The joy it brought us in producing the piece is amplified knowing that it will build awareness of the work being done by the Educational Theatre Foundation.”
Brent Crayon, Music Director/Piano-Conductor for the Rubicon Theatre production of Songs for a New World, received the 2005 Ovation Award nomination for Best Musical Direction. “It was a thrill to collaborate with Jill and Alan to showcase Jason Robert Brown’s exhilarating music and lyrics combined with images from every level of theatrical production to show the huge impact theatre has in our lives.”
The team reached out to theatre artists around the country and asked them to share clips and images of shows they had done in the months before theatres shut down. “The passion we saw in those images was extraordinary,” Alan Bailey, co-author of the musical Smoke on the Mountain, said. “As we put this together, our goal really became to share the message of hope that the song promises, in a time when it is so needed.”
All donations received through Hear My Song will go to school theatre programs in need through the Thespian Relief Fund.