By Brian Scott Lipton

It seems impossible that each and every person watching the poignant musical revue Notes from Now, currently being presented by the Prospect Theater Company at 59E59 Theaters, won’t see themselves somehow reflected on stage—and not just because the excellent seven-person encompasses so many ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations and ages

The bigger reason is that this collection of 17 songs—inventively staged by director and choreographer Billy Bustamante—speaks eloquently to the trials and tribulations of modern life, most especially in the era of COVID. Equally importantly, as implied by the show’s subtitle “Songs of Renewal and Resilience,” the revue is a testament to our individual and collective ability to move forward no matter how great the obstacle.

Cast of Notes From Now

That theme is made clear in the superb opening number, Adam Gwon’s “Don’t Swat the Bee,” in which the strong-voiced John Yi plays a man with a recurring dream that signifies his fear of leaving the house—which he is eventually coaxed to do by best pal Ashley Blanchet (a standout performer throughout the evening, even with some of the show’s lighter material, such as Masi Asare’s cutesy, “A Light in the Kitchen”).

Among the most noteworthy tunes are Gretchen Cryer and Nick Wilder’s clever “Still Got a Hold on Me,” in which the fantastic Judy McLane sings about trying to move on, figuratively and literally, after an unfaithful lover has died from the disease; Jaime Lozano and Georgie Castillo’s lovely “Under the Snow,” beautifully performed by Aline Mayagoitia, about a young Latina woman struggling to make it as a singer in the U.S. while her father remains overseas and unable to visit; and Amanda Yesnowitz and Deborah Abramson’s earnest “The World of the Puzzle,” in which McLane explains how one of the Covid-era’s most popular pastimes helps her to cope.

Judy McLane (photo by Billy Bustamante)

Josh Lamon, a veteran of such Broadway shows as The Prom and Hair, practically steals the show with the comic “Ovid,” written by the brilliant Jeff Blumenkrantz (I won’t spoil what the song is actually about) and Peter Mills’ “Coming Back to You,” a crowd-pleasing paean to the joy and necessity of musical theater. Mills also contributes the quirky “Polarized,” an ensemble number that semi-subtly tackles everything from climate change to the survival-of-the-fittest mentality.

Each of the songs are immeasurably enhanced by the extraordinary work of a spectacular six-piece mini-orchestra led by music director Sean Peter Forte, especially the show’s last two numbers: the tear-inducing “A Song for Now,” written by Douglas Lyons and Ethan Pokchar; and the glorious-sounding “Bloom,” written by Stephen Schwartz and Alexandra Elle. 

Cast of Notes From Now

Indeed, with Spring around the corner and the worst of Covid hopefully behind us, it’s time for all of us to come above ground and resume as much of “normal” life as possible—without forgetting what we’ve been through. It’s wonderful that these talented songwriters have been taking notes.

Notes From Now. Through March 20  at 59E59 Theatres (59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues) 

Photos: Richard Termine (except where noted)