Lincoln Center Theater
 
 
 

The Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater was home to the world premiere of A NEW BRAIN, the new musical by William Finn and James Lapine, the Tony-winning creators of the 1992 Broadway hit Falsettos.

The story of A NEW BRAIN is drawn from Finn's own life. Back in 1992, shortly after the successful opening of Falsettos on Broadway -- the culmination of years of work -- Finn suffered a brain seizure and was hospitalized. During this painfully difficult time, his doctors could not immediately pinpoint the cause of the seizure and were not sure if he would survive. Finn also feared that, even if he lived, he still might lose his ability to write.

From such dire source material came this surprisingly joyous and funny musical about songwriter Gordon Schwinn. Bolstered by the support of his mother, his boyfriend Roger and many other good friends, Gordon finds the courage to confront his mortality and allow his doctors to perform the necessary surgery. In life and on stage, thankfully, there is a happy ending.

Finn recovered completely and this musical is a glorious rediscovery of his distinctive songwriting 'voice', an exorcism of a painfully dark period, a coming-back to the world, with Finn writing in a freer and warmer way than ever before. This is a very touching show, but not a downer at all -- it's a big upper!

The cast of A NEW BRAIN included some old friends, starting with Malcolm Gets, currently co-starring on the popular TV series --Caroline in the City--, who'll play Gordon. Gets, an Obie winner for his role in the revival of Merrily We Roll Along, is familiar to LCT audiences from his performance in Hello Again at the Newhouse. He also starred in The Moliere Comedies and in the -- Encores -- concert of The Boys From Syracuse.

The cast also featured two other familiar faces from LCT's recent past: Tony nominee Penny Fuller, so terrific in An American Daughter, as Gordon's mother and Liz Larsen, a standout in LCT's revival of The Most Happy Fella, as Gordon's best friend. Christopher Innvar (who starred as Javert in the 10th anniversary company of Les Miserables and in the title role of Floyd Collins)played Gordon's boyfriend.

Two veterans of past Finn musicals made their LCT debuts in A NEW BRAIN: Mary Testa (featured in the recent revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To The Forum) and Chip Zien (star of Into The Woods), who were both in the cast of In Trousers; Zien went on to create the role of Mendel in the Falsettos musicals. The rest of the wonderful company included Kristen Chenoweth (Steel Pier), John Jellison (Titanic), Keith Byron Kirk (Miss Saigon) and Michael Mandell (A Christmas Carol).

This production was designed by David Gallo (sets), Toni-Leslie James (costumes), Peggy Eisenhauer (lighting) and Tony Meola (sound), with orchestrations by Michael Starobin and music direction by Ted Sperling, who's also did vocal arrangements with Jason Robert Brown.

Cast

  • Kristin Chenoweth , Penny Fuller , Malcom Gets , Christopher Innvar , John Jellison , Keith Byron Kirk , Liz Larsen , Michael Mandell , Mary Testa , Chip Zien
  • Music and Lyrics by

    William Finn

  • Book by

    William Finn

  • and

    James Lapine

  • Directed and Choreographed by

    Graciela Daniele

  • Sets by

    Paul Gallo

  • Costumes by

    Toni-Leslie James

  • Lighting by

    Peggy Eisenhauer

  • Orchestrations by

    Michael Starobin