Richard’s care for Gordon as a professional and a person is great to witness, and Phillips' acting and singing is flawless in the role. Portrayed by the marvelous Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld, Rhoda is calm, caring and put-together. Groff’s air of troubled sensitivity is an automatic asset in a show about an embattled young composer in the shadow of death. Everybody else (aside from the cartoonish Mr. Bungee) mostly registers as a generic vessel for big emotions, a reminder that the biggest crises in life have a way of turning us all into clichés, resist though we may.“A New Brain” has been given a top-flight physical production by a team that includes Donyale Werle (who did the Expressionist waiting-room-of-the-mind set) and Mark Barton (the darkness-embracing lighting). Mr. Dean is reincarnated here as Gordon’s gambling-addicted father, and Ms. Gasteyer’s and Mr. Groff’s reactions to him exude an eloquent ambivalence. production of William Finn’s 1998 musical, at City Center.Jonathan Groff, center, in the Encores! Rosenfeld’s singing voice is bright and clear, and the fluidity of movement she shows playing a marionette version of her character in a dream sequence is nothing short of extraordinary. As Gordon’s nearest and dearest rally to provide support, he sinks into self-defeating depression and wonders plaintively about all the songs he’ll never have the chance to write.This allows Mr. Finn to come up with numbers that render the grimness of a hospital patient’s lot with sardonic bounciness and hard-landing rhymes, as well as more earnest anthems of doubt and pain for Gordon, with titles like “The Music Still Plays On” and “Don’t Give In.”These are performed with conviction by a cast that also includes Ana Gasteyer, who gives an engagingly unforced performance as Mimi, Gordon’s dominating mother, and Aaron Lazar (looking like a Brooks Brothers ad) as Roger, his sailboat-obsessed lover. Jonathan Groff was born to suffer incandescently. His mother, Mimi (Anette Michelle Sanders), smiles through the diagnosis given by Dr. Jafar (Adam David Pearce) and declares she will go to Gordon’s apartment for her “date with Mr. Clean!”; Gordon’s boyfriend, Roger (Gerardo Vallejo), is off sailing and might not make it in time to Gordon’s side.Throughout all of this, Gordon is visited by visions of his boss, Mr. Bungee (Jim Roumeles), who appears as the life-sized frog from the children’s show for which Gordon composes. While A New Brain is indeed about music and story I hesitate to label it "great. " A New Brain, the killer musical about a songwriter facing a life-threatening brain condition, could only have been written by William Finn. And no less a musical eminence than the composer Jason Robert Brown (“Parade,” “Honeymoon in Vegas”) has done the vocal arrangements.Mr. She demands change -- not necessarily money -- but does nothing herself about it.Under the direction of Barrie Gelles, the cast brings forward their various characters’ points-of-view adeptly and spiritedly. Its combination of wit, wisdom, and schmaltz is endearing. Based on the true story of William Finn, the autobiographical musical Gordon (played in this Gallery Players production by the phenomenal Jesse Menocherian) is thoroughly blindsided and frightened by this news, and he wonders if he is the only one who sees the severity of the situation. When the original cast recording came out, I listened to it over and over. Other, more peripheral characters — blessed with showstopping voices, fortunately — appear to suggest that life isn’t all that swell for anybody.
For one thing, it’s highly autobiographical.
Gelles took a few moments to share her insights in directing such a profound yet entertaining work about a serious subject. Her fear of facing this possibility all alone is palpable.The entire ensemble harmonizes well in their singing. What about A New Brain attracted you to directing it? Centered around a young artist who suddenly finds out he has a potentially life-threatening brain malformation, this story is based on the real-life experience of the musical’s composer William Finn. I think the songs, like most of William Finn’s work, is the perfect combination of complexity and a “hummable tune.” The harmonies are gorgeous, the music is lush, the lyrics are clever and poignant. We come to see how Gordon is so concerned with things outside his control, that he has neglected the people who love him most. The talented ensemble includes Stewart Yu (primarily as the smiling minister), Christy Yin, Sharaé Moultrie, Justine Campbell-Elliott, Ashley Harris, and Max Joseph. production of "A New Brain."
For one thing it at times leapfrogs like Mr. Bungee, to the brink of sappiness and the … I hadn’t remembered them as being all that strong when I saw The numbers are “And They’re Off” and “Gordo’s Law of Genetics,” and they deal with the prickly legacy of being part of a family. Review: The Gallery Players’ Production of Finn/Lapine’s ‘A New Brain’ Makes Smart Choices Based on the true story of William Finn, the autobiographical musical A New Brain (by Finn and James Lapine) tells the tale of a composer, Gordon Michael Schwin, who, in … And this actor also has a chance to demonstrate some of the playful wit he will no doubt be bringing to his performance as an embattled British king in the shadow of the American Revolution in the exciting musical “Mostly, though, it’s the dewy gaze and sweet, sincere voice that are required for “A New Brain,” which is based on Mr. Finn’s own experience of a life-threatening neurological disorder. Providing a grounding presence is Rhoda, Gordon’s coworker with whom he is having lunch when he collapses.