There is a wealth of new musical theatre concerts happening this time of year, from benefits to Cutting Edge Composers, from Contemporary Musical Theatre Songwriters You Should Know to Songs You Should Know. It's always a welcome thing to find yourself with an abundance of new musical theatre presentations, but when your budget and time are limited, how do you decide on what to see?
Last night I had the immense pleasure of attending Libra Theater Company's tuneful evening of new songs, conveniently titled, Songs You Should Know. And while admittedly (and in a good way) a lot of the writers are no longer people to know but people we already know and love, I realized through Libra's presentation what makes for a good musical concert of new songs.
The main thing is just that they're new. Fresh. That they give an indication of who the composers are and, more importantly, what they're working on next. As I listened to Caleb Hoyer's "If I Had Met You First," sung by Max Chernin, I was reminded of that feeling that I love when I see a new show-- that desire to have a single song last forever, or at least long enough so you can peel back the layers and live inside it for a little while.
I knew very few of the songs presented last night, but perhaps if you played them for me with no introduction, I could've made a guess and at least gotten kind of close. Miller and Tysen's "Town Goes Boom" was so specific to place and culture, a fresh slice of life delivered in a song as only they can. Joe Iconis' "Michael in the Bathroom" was a deliciously endearing geek-rock song that captured his brand of misfit like none other. And Amanda Green's haunting "Nowhere" and righteously angry "Waiting on My Thank You" demonstrated her great writing for self-aware, engrossing characters. It was also very cool to hear Amy Molewski and Nick Luckenbaugh's music make its 54 Below debut with "Rising Fire" and "Fall."
The evening was tied together by hilarious host Lauren Marcus, whose use of PowerPoint was better than half the things I've seen on Shark Tank. Her proof that she and Katie Thompson are basically the same person from behind was also quite compelling. The best part was that the evening felt very casual, very homey, a sense that I'm starting to get from a lot of Libra's productions.