University of Windsor Jazz performance piano major Sam Poole, is boldly taking on all aspects of producing his vision of James Robert Brown’s “Songs For A New World.” It’s not a play, it’s not a musical, it’s Sam Poole’s graduation project as he works towards completion of his Bachelor of Music degree. His implementation has brilliantly come together culminating in an exciting theatrical song cycle being showcased to the public for two performances only at the University of Windsor School of Creative Arts downtown campus (Feb. 1 & 2).
Eyes On Windsor, was invited to attend rehearsal for the show on Wednesday night (Jan 30) , featuring a moving collection of powerful songs that examine life, love and the choices that we make. If Eyes On Windsor was grading Sam’s graduation project we would easily give it an A+.
“I’ve pretty much had to do everything myself,” Sam told us during an interview following his rehearsal. He chose “Songs For A New World” about 10 months ago and had to come up with the money to license it. In addition, he says, “James Robert Brown is one of my favourite composers. I wanted to tackle one of his scores note for note and get all those licks in there.”
Sam also had to assemble a band and it features many recognizable names including past and present students and Faculty of the University of Windsor. The band includes, Sam Poole, Alex Aideira-Leite, Mike Karloff (Sam’s Pop Jazz teacher), Nicholas Baddeley and Vanessa Harnish (who has been in many shows with Sam).
The cast includes performers well known to Windsor audiences including Kaitlyn Karns, Benjamin Doncom, Sara Fontaine ,and Michael Roy. “I had to assemble this cast, I had to tell them what to do on stage, i had to tell them about their blocking and their intention in their songs, and I had to rehearse with these guys,” explained Sam.
“They’re doing a great job, I have the best band in the world, and the best cast, when they get together it just sounds magical and I’m really excited.”
While Sam is the director of the show, he says that Pam Goldstein, “helped with a lot of the acting, she was my artistic mentor, that’s what I call her, she’s been a great help.”
Sam has directed the music for several theatre productions, in fact, among his accomplishments, he wrote the complete musical score for Windsor’s Post Productions’ original Christmas play which debuted last December.
“I’ve mostly music directed but because this is a concert I wanted to take up the production and really be involved in the vision,” emphasized Sam.
Judging from the stellar singing and music performance during rehearsal, Sam has put together a production able to rival world class professional shows.
In addition to directing Sam has performed all over Windsor, Toronto, and Michigan performing pop, jazz, rock, music theatre and more.
“It’s been a crazy process,” says Sam, but putting together all facets of a production, “is a great experience and I hope to keep doing more stuff like this after I graduate.”
Once Sam wraps up this final school semester, he plans to start rehearsing for another show. “Miriam Goldstein and I are doing another musical called Pregnancy Pact in Toronto at the beginning of May,” Sam said. “So we’ll be rehearsing for that right after I finish school. And I’ll be gigging, and working, and writing music, and staying busy, I’ve written a lot of music with my co-writer Nick Burke, and I perform in a band that plays in a lot of weddings and corporate parties, the band is called Stiletto Fire. So I’ll be gigging a ton.”
Before getting to that point, Sam is spending this weekend showcasing his graduation project, the production of Songs For A New World, to the public. It is Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown’s first produced show, originally produced Off-Broadway at the WPA Theatre in 1995. Brown and director Daisy Prince put together songs he had written for other venues and events, resulting in “neither musical play nor revue, it is closer to a theatrical song cycle, a very theatrical song cycle.”
This contemporary song cycle weaves characters and history together, illuminating the timelessness of self-discovery. “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.” These are the stories and characters of today, the Songs for a New World.
Sam Poole’s production of Songs For A New World runs for two performances, February 1 & 2, 2019 both starting at 8:00PM. The performances will take place at The University of Windsor’s new School of Creative Arts campus located at 37 University Ave West in the Recital Hall.
Tickets are $15 General Admission and are available online at http://www.uwindsor.ca/music/533/songs-new-world or at the door one half hour before