What to Expect Out of AIP’s SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD


Tim Backes, director

Rehearsal for SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD doesn’t begin for almost two weeks yet, but the show is already beginning to take shape. We asked director Tim Backes a few questions about what we can expect out of the production.

Tickets for SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD are available now, so get yours with plenty of time to spare!

Q: What about Songs for a New World made it an attractive show for you to direct?

Several things. I’ve loved the music (and pretty much all things JRB) for a long time, of course. But the show is a lot more than just great music and writing.

The kinds of musicals I enjoy the most are ones that have really relatable characters and stories. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of fun to go out and see a big over-the-top production every now and then, but on a personal level I tend to like more intimate shows that focus more on the characters and their struggles and growth.

Songs for a New World has a lot of that. We get a bunch of different self-contained vignettes and stories about these different characters and the “new worlds” that they’re embarking into, literally and metaphorically. And while the four actors are technically playing different characters in every song, we nonetheless see some pretty clear character development and growth throughout their songs.

A lot of these stories are extremely relatable because they’re situations many of us have found ourselves in before, or could potentially find ourselves in. So I think finding a way to tell these stories in a way that really connects with the audience is what I’m looking forward to most about this show.

Q: What kinds of unique challenges does the show present?

The hardest thing about this show is that pretty much nothing is given to you with regard to stage directions, setting or… anything, really. It’s almost entirely left up to the director’s discretion about how each scene will be interpreted.

This means it takes a lot of studying of the lyrics, and a lot of conversations with other designers and the actors to make sure everyone is on the same page with a single, clearly defined vision for the show.

I’ve already met with all the designers individually, and I’m beginning to meet with the four actors about the arcs of their characters. With Woman 1 and Man 2, for example, their arcs are really interconnected. They’re both about the different stages of a relationship. Woman 1 goes from being wide-eyed and naïve to experiencing rejection and abandonment, a pregnancy scare and ultimately the decision of whether or not to reconcile with a former lover.

The lyrics indicate Man 2 is jaded when it comes to love, and has likely had bad experiences in the past, which lead him to be unwilling to embrace a good thing when it finally comes his way. So he runs, and ultimately matures to the point where he might finally be capable of accepting love and being in a healthy relationship.

So the big challenges here are a) getting all of this across in a relatively small amount of stage time in each song and b) doing it in a way where the audience can clearly follow the progression of the relationship and the characters’ stories while understanding we’re looking at entirely separate characters whose stories more or less follow the same familiar arcs.

Basically, it can be a pretty abstract show, and I want to make it much more accessible and genuine through things like staging and costuming, which will help us get the most out of these songs and stories.

Q: Why did you decide to put the show in Redeemer Lutheran Church?

I rehearse at Redeemer every Tuesday evening with Chant Claire Chamber Choir, so I know the building well and also know Pastor Lisa Bates-Froiland, who has been wonderful to work with in getting this set up.

Inside the Redeemer Lutheran Church sanctuary, looking from the front of the church back to its Wisconsin St. entrance.

The people there are passionate about the arts. They’ve been hugely welcoming to Chant Claire, and when we had some rehearsals there for Next to Normal this past summer they were gracious hosts as well. So I knew from that standpoint, organizing the show would work just fine.

But the building and sanctuary itself are also appealing for the show. We were looking at nontraditional theater spaces for the show, because the flexibility it gives allows you to set it pretty much anywhere. I especially was focusing on architecturally interesting places in Milwaukee, or older places with some history behind them.

I knew a bit about Redeemer’s background already. The church was founded by immigrants, and the building itself was built in the early 1900s. The ceiling was designed in a way that it looks like the bottom of a wooden ship—Pastor Lisa likes to say in her sermons that it is a reminder that we are “all in the same boat” together.

This works really well for our show. You get the literal boat aspect, designed by people who traveled to the New World themselves, which we also see in the show in “On the Deck of a Spanish Sailing Ship.” But Pastor Lisa’s “all in the same boat” comment is really appropriate for this show as well. One of the big takeaways from this show, for me at least, is that even when our lives are upturned and we have to make terrifying decisions that will bring us into a “new world,” we aren’t alone—these are experiences shared by people every single day, all of the world, across time.

Redeemer also describes itself as being “at the crossroads of Marquette University and a striving neighborhood,” and a church that serves “people of all walks of life.” We see the contrasts between classes and races explored a lot in this show, and these are contrasts the people at Redeemer see every day, due to where it’s located.

So from both a thematic and logistical standpoint, plus the actual beauty of the space, it really just fit.

Q: What do you hope audiences get out of the show?

I know for sure that people are going to walk out of the building being blown away by the voices in this cast. But what I’m really hoping is that everyone walks out feeling a particular connection with one character or song, because that’s really why we chose this show. When it’s done well, it can inspire a lot of introspection.


Tickets for SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD are available today. GET YOURS NOW!

Announcing our 2018 Season Theme

Libby Amato and David Sapiro in “Constellations”
Photo: Mark Frohna

We are thrilled with the success we have had with our 2017 season theme, “Let’s Talk.” Now, we are looking ahead to what’s to come in 2018. The following message appears in the program for Constellations. We hope that you will come out and support this fantastic play–that support will allow us to continue to make art in 2018!


2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year for All In Productions. After the critical success of our 2017 shows Circle Mirror Transformation and Next to Normal and the immense artistry of our current show, Constellations, we are looking to try new things and make bold new artistic decisions. Given this is a season of self-discovery for us in these exciting new ventures, we thought it was fitting to choose shows that aligned with that theme as well.

Therefore, our 2018 theme is “Discoveries.” We have selected three shows (two musicals and a play) that feature characters who find themselves on the cusp of making important decisions that will affect their lives as they know them, and lead them to make important discoveries about themselves and the world around them.

Self-discovery is a crucial part of creating one’s own unique identity. All of us can think back to our teenage years, for example, and remember the first band that we “discovered” for ourselves, or the first interests we developed on our own that were separate from those handed down to us from our parents. We can remember first real-world experiences of all types, good and bad, that played a role in developing the people we have become today.

All In Productions constantly strives for relatability and genuine storytelling in its productions, and there are few things more relatable and genuine than a moment of self-discovery. Moments of self-discovery are moments of vulnerability, and seeing characters experiencing these moments for themselves can call to mind the moments that have shaped us. These connections between audience and character make for more genuine theatrical experiences.

So to that end, we are thrilled to be making discoveries of our own this season. We will be exploring nontraditional theater venues, attempting brand new types of shows, and hopefully continue to work with new, passionate people from throughout Milwaukee’s artistic community in the process.

We cannot wait to share this season with you. Thank you for your continued support.


The All In Productions Board of Directors