Songs for a New World to make virtual debut

City Circle Theatre Company will virtually premiere ‘Songs for a New World,’ a song cycle about characters overcoming challenges in their lives.

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Dani Hopkins, Arts Reporter


Art often reflects on the current situation of the world. In this case, the situation is a pandemic.

Songs for a New World, a song cycle performance presented by City Circle Theatre Company in Coralville, tackles what the world is like when everything is in chaos.

The thematic two-act song cycle depicts what people go through when they hit a wall in life and have to pick up the pieces to make things right. While the performance has no central plot, the characters will tell their stories through song, Director Elizabeth Tracey said.

The musical leans into moments of 2020 when life is going well, and people are happy. When everything changes, people around the world are forced to find themselves again, Tracey said.

The show’s music is a mix of multiple genres, including jazz, pop, and gospel. Songs in the show detail the events of each characters’ lives. Each character, though nameless, changes with each song. They must take a stand, make a choice, or try to make past events right during their song, Tracey said.

During rehearsals, the cast and Tracey had to adapt to new changes to the theater. Tracey said that the dynamic of producing the musical had to change because the actors had to be more cautious about the way they interacted onstage.

The production, which features five performers, started off their two-week rehearsal period wearing masks, directing their voices toward the front of the theater while not looking at one another. Tracey added that the troubles that the actors faced varied from not being able to see visual cues of one another to not communicating together as they might without masks or face to face.

Another learning curve for Tracey and the actors came with adapting to a new set up. There was a lost connection that she and the actors had to try and make up for without an audience present in the theater, she said.

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While it was a challenge for Tracey and the rest of the cast, all feel thankful that they are able to participate in their passions.

“I am enjoying that I can still produce theater and I do enjoy getting to adapt to the new theater process,” Tracey said.

Performer Ian Zahren said he felt fortunate that he could perform even though it was a completely different process than what he was accustomed to. While the process may have differed from those of the past, Zahren felt thankful that the performance had been recorded, that way he can watch the show.

“I am so glad that I can go back in and watch my work,” Zahren said. “As a performer, your work is never really recorded, so this gives us a way to look back on it when we miss acting.”

Performer Kristen DeGrazia said that the one aspect that proved difficult for her during the performance was that she didn’t have the audience to connect with.

To DeGrazia, the audience is one of the biggest parts of the performance. While it may not have felt like a true performance to her, DeGrazia added that she is excited to see the reactions people have towards the musical once it premieres online.

“This [the show] beautifully explores the journey of life and these songs show the journey of the characters and how far they have come in life,” she said.

Songs for a New World tickets can be bought on City Circle’s website and watched through a link sent to the email of the viewer. The performance will premiere on Friday.

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