Beth Noelle.com Pure of Heart. Fiercely True. Radiantly Alive.

Absence and the Making of a Fonder Heart

Beth Noelle
Musical Theater

As some of you know, I just completed a run of a musical theater show called Songs for a New World composed by Jason Robert Brown. Unlike other music mediums, doing a show has a way of getting under my skin. I found this to be true with this one more than any other.

This creation was different than others I’ve done in that there was no dialogue or script. Just music and the text therein. And the music is all super intense, varied and unique.

Throughout the run, people would ask me, “What is your favorite song?”. I’d rattle off an answer, then pause, then name a different one, then hum and haw and list off yet another one. The fact is, there’s just no way I could pick a favorite. The tunes from Songs for a New World are complex, challenging and (speaking as a pianist) a pianists dream. I grew to love each and every song for very different reasons.

On the Deck of a Spanish Sailing Ship, 1492 is rich in sexy chords, juxtaposed with sacred, somber spirituality. She Cries is a driven, rhythmical ode to the frustrations that ensue for the masculine when feminine fire is misguided and untempered. Steam Train is a rowdy romp and at it’s best, just on the verge of flying off the tracks. Surabaya Santa, an aggressive Germanic oom-pa-pa complete with accordion and jingle bells sung by, yes, Santa’s Significant Other, Mrs. Claus... and she is anything but merry. Christmas Lullaby, perhaps the sweetest and tenderest ballad I’ve ever had the pleasure of interpreting. King of the World? Well. It’s an absolute monster that I delight in slaying with my singing Kings each and every time. I’d Give It All for You... an agonizing song of love found, lost and in a heated moment of possible renewal, not. And Hear My Song, closing the show with a shine of hope that could melt the face off of the toughest of cynics.

The point is, these songs all were, and continue to be, near and dear to my heart.

The cast and I closed the show, atypically, without heavy hearts. We knew that we had a one-off performance at a park in July, so it wasn’t an official ‘goodbye’ just yet.

After many weeks away from the music, nose-deep into all manners of activities not in any way related, I lost touch... reconnecting at the pickup rehearsal for our final show.

Meeting the music again was like meeting long lost friends. Each song, cherished. Each, with its own life of growth and evolution.

How could I possibly pick a favorite? How could I pick just one?

It is a beautiful thing that in a musical such as Songs for a New World all of these unique songs like relationships with many uniquely precious people, can co-exist without friction. How wonderful that I don’t have to pick just one. I can love and appreciate them all without worrying that one will be jealous or threatened if I interact with another. I don’t have to exclude one in favor of another.

The songs aren’t mine to own.

The songs are there to be sung and shared, freely and generously, with Open Hearts.

Songs for a New World.

Relationships for a New World.

A New World where Presence makes well-fed and satiated hearts grown fat, full, ripe and juicy with fondness.


Pictured: The band of Songs for a New World presented by Beaverton Civic Theatre. L to R: Tyrene Bada, Trina Shagify, me.