This weekend, the School of Creative Arts will host a production of the musical Songs for a New World, music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. The production is the graduation project of pianist and conductor Sam Poole, a senior bachelor of music student studying jazz and pop piano with Mike Karloff.
Staging a musical theatre production as a graduation recital is uncommon among music students.
“I’m very excited that the school is so supportive of this project,” Poole says. “I wouldn’t be able to do this without the encouragement and support of (faculty) Bruce Kotowich, Mike Karloff, and Trevor Pittman.”
He says that Kotowich steered him toward Songs for a New World because it’s a song cycle: “The singers move around the stage, but stand and deliver their songs.” All performers remain on stage throughout and there aren’t any scenery or props.
“I’ve been working on the piano part since last April. The music is rooted in jazz, gospel, and rock,” says Poole. “It’s challenging conducting and adding some showmanship to my playing.”
In addition to his studies, Poole plays piano in a band that performs at Caesars Windsor and at weddings. He also works at St. Clair College accompanying its music theatre students, and at Walkerville Collegiate playing piano in its jazz ensemble.
He has also written a musical and is working with Miriam Goldstein on a production of “Pregnancy Pact” that will have a two-week run in Toronto this summer.
His production of Songs for a New World will enjoy performances Friday and Saturday, Feb. 1 and 2, in the SoCA Armouries, 37 University Ave. E. Curtain time both nights is 8 p.m. Admission is $15 at the door.