401 Broad St
Nevada City, CA 95959
Directed by Robert Rossman and Jailyn Tafolla
Music Direction by Ken Getz
Set Design by Robert Rossman
Lighting Design by Erin Beatie and Hunter Schott
Costume Design by Paulette Sand-Gilbert
Brian Arsenault, Jay Barker, Heidi Grass, Jonathan Hansard, Michaela King, Sue LeGate-Halford, Heather Lucas-Ross, Kevin Lucas-Ross, Ken Miele, and Sara Noah
$35 (Rows A-H)
$25 (Rows J-O)
March 1 & 2
$20 (All Rows)$15 Student Rush at the door
25 & under with Valid Student ID
Seating begins 30 minutes before the performance
All evening performances begin promptly at 7:30 pm
Matinee performances begin promptly at 2:00 pm
401 Broad Street, Nevada City, CA 95959
(excerpted from a review by Steven Suskin of the 2015 production by City Center Encores! in New York)
A New Brain makes an interesting specimen. First produced in 1998 by Lincoln Center Theater at the Newhouse, the show was sparklingly wonderful. In 1998, though, a brief plot description—a musical about a composer who undergoes brain surgery—was more than enough to keep general audiences away, or send them fleeing. Nowadays, in the wake of musicals like Next to Normal and Fun Home, A New Brain fits right in. While it was too intense—or just too strange—to win over a substantial majority in a 299-seat house in 1998, it should earn roars of approval this week from the vast majority of playgoers at the 2,200-seat City Center.
This was composer/lyricist Finn’s response to the arteriovenous malformation which felled him in 1992, just three weeks after he won twin Tonys for Falsettos. Thus, the piece is fictionally-autobiographical; the hero Gordon Schwinn fills in for William Finn. (One of several delightful showstoppers—a number in which the ensemble tells us “the bad trait will always predominate”—sounds like it was probably written as “the law of genetics according to Finn” and later changed to “Schwinn.”)
Gordo, while slaving away writing songs for a talking frog on a kiddie show for the autocratic Mr. Bungee, suddenly collapses. He is rushed to the emergency room, with support from best friend Rhoda, mother Mimi, and boyfriend Roger. Also in attendance are Nancy D., the thin-and mean-nurse; Richard, the nice nurse; a distracted surgeon; and a trying-to-be-helpful hospital minister. Rounding out the cast is Lisa, an Upper West Side bag lady seeking justice and change.
It should be noted that this musical about a fellow who is dying is extremely funny; not a surprise coming from the composer of Falsettos and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, but still unlikely. Serious-themed numbers are countered by items like the intensive care nurse’s rollicking plaint about being “Poor, Unsuccessful and Fat.” Finn turns out a parade of wonderful songs, including “Heart and Music,” “I Feel So Much Spring,” “An Invitation to Sleep in My Arms,” “Change” and the mother’s stunning “The Music Still Plays On.” Best of all, perhaps, is Gordo’s “And They’re Off,” a concise, child’s-eye view of growing up in a family destroyed by a gambler-father.