A New Brain feels very similar to Falsettos (the recent Lincoln Center revival of which came to the Ordway earlier this year) in that it's almost entirely sung through, and uses humor to look at the serious stuff of life. The music includes sung dialogue, and songs that are catchy and clever, or gorgeously poignant. It's such a great score that I just downloaded the 2015 Encores cast recording starring Jonathan Groff so that I can stay in the world of this show for a little longer (the original 1998 Off-Broadway cast recording is also available).
|brain surgery can be fun! (photo by Devon Cox)|
|the dreamy cast (photo by Devon Cox)|
The simple and modern set (designed by Rick Polenek) features a raised circle in the middle of the stage, with ramps leading up to it on either side for the gurneys and wheelchairs, backed by four panels of white squares across which colors play. Behind the wall is Anita Ruth conducting the fabulous eight-piece band. Choreographer Heidi Spesard-Noble uses all of this space for the fun and charming movements she has created for the cast.
After beginning their season with the bland crowd-pleaser Footloose, Artistry has brought us a beautifully poignant production of the classic play Our Town, and now begins a string of rarely done musicals. Firstly, this practically perfect production of the gem that is A New Brain, continuing through November 9. Next up: the regional premiere of Jason Robert Brown's (who also did the musical arrangements for this piece) The Bridges of Madison County, and Mame. Kudos to Artistry for these making these bold choices, and doing it so well.
*With Skylark's recent production of The Most Happy Fella, all I need is for someone to do Blood Brothers and I will have seen full productions of all of the Second Fiddle readings I've seen. Anyone?