A filmed, streaming version of the William Finn and James Lapine musical comedy “A New Brain” will be available on-demand June 5 to 20, a collaboration of Theatre NOVA and the Ringwald Theatre.
From Finn and Lapine, the Tony Award-winning creators of “Falsettos,” “A New Brain” was inspired by Finn’s frightening experience with an arteriovenous malformation in his brain, and the resultant healing power of his musical creation.
The show premiered off-Broadway in 1998, and has since been revived in the United States, England and throughout the world.
The musical’s protagonist, Gordon Schwinn, fears that he will die “with his greatest songs still inside him.” Similarly, Finn wrote many of the show’s songs after he was released from the hospital.
In the musical, Gordon, who is under deadline, is frustrated about his assignment to write a spring-themed song for a children’s show featuring Mr. Bungee, who is a costumed frog.
When he takes a break to meet a friend for lunch, he passes out, and is taken to the hospital, where he learns he has a serious condition, from which he could die, but for which the surgery is equally risky.
The show includes a quirky cast of characters, from a homeless woman to the protagonist’s mother.
The show is a heartwarming, amusing and relatable look at how wonderful the world can be when one takes the time to slow down and look at it.
The cast includes Richard Peyton as Gordon Schwinn, a composer; Jamie Richards as Mr. Bungee, the children’s television show star, director and producer; Diane Hill as Mimi Schwinn, Gordon’s mother; Liz Schultz as Rhoda, Gordon’s agent and best friend; Vince Kelley as Roger, Gordon’s boyfriend; Jason Briggs as Richard, a nurse; Arielle Crosby as Lisa, a homeless woman; Alaina Kerr as the waitress and as Nancy, a mean nurse; and Steve DeBruyne as Dr. Berensteiner.
Vince Kelley directed the show, with musical direction by R. MacKenzie Lewis. Jake Turner served as cinematographer, sound engineer and editor.
The cast spent March learning the music while rehearsing over Zoom. In April, they transitioned to socially-distanced and masked in-person musical rehearsals.
Once all the cast were fully or partially vaccinated, and tested negative for COVID-19, they met for 12 days of filming, with an April 24 completion date.
The show was shot scene by scene, limiting the number of people in the theater to an absolute minimum.
It was a new and challenging experience for the stage actors, who were accustomed to rehearsing live for four to six weeks, and the show’s technical talent, who had to adapt a stage play to a film medium, with post-production editing in mind.
The show was supported in part by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and by the National Endowment for the Arts.
“A New Brain” will be available on demand June 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20, with $25 tickets. The show may be watched through Broadway on Demand on computers, tablets and smartphones, and on television through the Broadway on Demand App using Apple TV, Roku and compatible Amazon video devices.
For more information, contact [email protected] To purchase tickets, go to TheatreNOVA.org.