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Behind the curtain: An Interview with Songs for a New World star Christopher Cameron

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First performed on Off-Broadway in 1995, and premiering in the UK in 2001, the cult favourite song cycle Songs for a New World is coming back to London for a limited run at Upstairs at the Gatehouse in February.

Written and composed by Tony Award® winner Jason Robert Brown

(The Last Five Years, Parade, Bridges of Madison County), the raw and magnificent show features musical theatre fan favourites including ‘I’m Not Afraid of Anything’, 'Stars and the

Moon' and ‘King of the World’.

Stunning vocals combined with beautifully written lyrics and a

moving score create this visceral, raw production that takes audiences on a journey, teetering on the edge of one moment that can shape the rest of your life. Each sensational song captures a different moment, all strung together to creatively explore the human condition from vastly different New World perspectives.

I got the chance to speak to Songs for a New World star Christopher Cameron who plays Man 2 to find out more about the show.

Photo Credit: Film Free Photography; Clarissa Debenham


What is Songs For A New World about?


Songs for a New World is a song cycle where four storytellers come together to share different moments in time examining life, love and the choices we make. In the words of Jason Robert Brown, "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.”


What is the inspiration behind the show?


Jason wrote these songs for different events or as stand alone pieces and brought them together for his first produced show. What makes it interesting, is that each song is from a different character's point of view and tells about one moment in their life. 


What are the key themes and messages of the show? And who is the target audience?


The show is woven together through moments in life when everything seems perfect and then suddenly disaster strikes, in the form of the loss of a job, an unexpected pregnancy, the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage or imprisonment. But the show is even more about surviving those moments. It's about the way we regroup and figure out how to survive in a new set of circumstances – a new world – even against seemingly overwhelming odds. Because of this, I think everyone can relate and take something away from Songs. 


What was the easiest and hardest part of getting across the way the show spans across centuries, countries, and classes?


As each song is separate moment, the key is bringing the story across and connecting to the lyrics to help convey these different elements. The way Songs has been directed and the setting help us to have these stand out moments whilst keeping a through line of the storytellers. 


What is the main genre of music? And do you have a favourite song?


The show is contemporary musical theatre at its best and has a mix of pop, gospel and jazz all rolled into one. There’s something for everyone. 


Being the musical theatre geek that I am, I have listened to this show for many years and the opening couple bars of the show always have and always will hit me in the heart! My favourite song keeps changing daily but at the moment it’s River Won’t Flow.

Photo Credit: Film Free Photography; Clarissa Debenham


What do you love about your character and what do you think is the biggest challenge in taking this character on?


I love that my character is a storyteller. I sing "I don't want to philosophize. I just want to tell a story," and this sums up the whole show but particularly my journey throughout. 


My biggest challenge is getting the harmonies into my head! JRB has written an incredible score with some of the hardest harmonies that blend together to create a masterpiece. 


Was there a show that started your love of musicals? And how old were you when you first saw a musical?


I saw a touring production of Jesus Christ Superstar when I was 14 and that was the first professional show I saw. I remember thinking “wow these people get paid to do that!” Haha. My first trip to London was when I was 18 and I saw Wicked and Hairspray and was completely blown away. 


How did you get into the Theatre industry? And where did you train?


I’ve always had performing at heart. I think my earliest memory would be as Joseph in the Nativity and I just knew that was what I wanted to do. My parents wanted me to do an academic degree first so I studied Management with Marketing and then did a Masters in Musical Theatre Performance at Mountview. 


How are rehearsals going and have you and the other cast have any pre-show rituals?


Rehearsals are going well. I just sit in awe at how talented everyone is - You’re going to want to see the show for the voices alone! My pre show ritual is always a ginger shot and a vocal siren to see where my voice is at that day. 


Describe the show in one sentence.


A must see piece of theatre that will resonate and blow you away. 

Photo Credit: Film Free Photography; Clarissa Debenham


SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD plays at Upstairs at the Gatehouse from Tuesday 4th February – Sunday 3rd March 2024! with accessible Performances including Relaxed performance at 2.30pm on February 24th and BSL signed performance which is TBC

*please note that Songs for a New World has an age restriction of 11+ and includes Some modern explicit language*

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