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Joyce Endee

Tilton School musical sets sail for a "New World"

Students of Tilton School will be presenting the magical, musical journey, “Songs of the New World,” this Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at Hamilton Hall on the Tilton campus. The show is free to the public. Members of the cast include Meg O’Brien, Olivia Harding, Oliver Meeh, Charlie Schiess, Maddy Alosa, Tamsen Bertz, Mikael Pluhar, and Audra Spaulding. (Missing from the photo are Evan Williams and Connie Zhang.) (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
February 22, 2012
TILTON — "Songs for a New World" is a musical that speaks from the heart, and those who make their way to the heart of downtown Tilton this weekend will be taken on a magical journey, as presented by the students of Tilton School, covering conflicts and life decisions to which everyone can relate.

The musical, written by Jason Robert Brown, was originally produced on Broadway in 1995, and is comprised of a series of songs connected by a common theme, without any narrative performances.

Tilton School's theatre director, Ashley Landroche, said that by presenting Brown's musical, she hopes to bring out the musical talents of students at the school.

"Some of our performers are experienced, and some are new to theater," she said. "My goal was to make them all confident as they try something new. This is a challenging production, and they've done a fabulous job."

While the cast is young, comprised of mostly juniors and sophomores, the talent is beyond their years. Belting out songs they have studied for the past two months, they bring a tale from all walks of life to the stage this week through their performances.

"This is a musical journey through the perspective of the different characters. It deals with their conflicts, like their family members going off to war, relationships and other life issues," said Landroche. "It's a little bit different from your average musical."

That difference means no verbal acting from the cast. Each character's life stories and challenges are instead presented through their songs as the musical moves along.

The setting for the show is the simplistic simulation of a ship, depicting the internal journey of the cast. From the upbeat tempo of the opening number, "The New World," to the urban beat of "Steam Train," other jazzier tunes or the quieter, touching moments of the score, the cast agreed that "Songs for a New World" contains music that will touch the entire viewing audience.

"Every song has a totally different mood that we get to play off from," said featured performer Meg O'Brien of Gilford. "There's something in this show for everyone."

Other melodies, like "Stars and the Moon," "She Cries" and "Flying Home," continue to show their journeys until the characters finally realize their life's destination in the final number, "Hear My Song."

"That's where Meg, as the main character, sort of gathers everyone together and lets them know it's going to be all right, despite all they've been through," said Landroche.

"Songs for a New World" showcases the many talented students at Tilton School through 16 songs and transition numbers. The voices of the ten cast members are plaintive, powerful and touching as they face their challenges, each finding satisfaction in the end.

"They really get a chance to connect with the audience with this musical," said Landroche. "It really is a great journey for everyone who sees it, too."

She herself has taken a life journey, from her childhood in Tilton to the

University of Cincinnati, where she graduated magna cum laude from their College of Conservatory of Music.

Landroche is a veteran dance instructor and choreographer, and has performed in both college and professional productions. She has also appeared on PBS, and was a featured vocalist in the Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center in New York City. In addition, Landroche worked for a time as a director, choreographer, company manager and vocal captain onboard a cruise liner. "Songs for a New World" is her second production since joining the faculty this year at Tilton School where her parents, Michael and Candace Landroche, also teach.

"Songs for a New World" is free to the public, and will be presented Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 23-25, at 7:30 p.m. in Hamilton Hall, located just below the school gymnasium off School Street in Tilton.

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