I was so lucky to get a chance to see New York City Center Encores! Off-Broadway staging of William Finn and James Lapine's A New Brain starring Tony Nominee Jonathan Groff, SNL's Ana Gasteyer, Broadway's Aaron Lazar, Quentin Earl Darrington, Spelling Bee's Dan Fogler, along with Jenni Barber, Bradley Dean, Josh Lamon, Alyse Alan Louis, and Rema Webb.
For those of you who don't know, A New Brain is William Finn's autobiographical musical about surviving a brain tumor. After struggling composer "Gordon Michael Schwinn" (Tony Award nominee Jonathan Groff) collapses at the piano, he is diagnosed with a brain tumor and is forced to come to terms with his creative ambitions and the people in his life: an overbearing mother (Ana Gasteyer), a ruthless kiddie-show host (Tony Award winner Dan Fogler), and a boyfriend who’d "rather be sailing" (Aaron Lazar).
Originally produced in 1998 (which starred Malcolm Gets and Penny Fuller), Encores! staged version is one NOT TO BE MISSED! This powerful show really sends a message about second chances, living in the now, loving as big as you can, and holding tight to the people you care for most.
This extraordinary cast did a stellar job! Jonathan Groff was outstanding as "Gordon Michael Schwinn." He commands the stage and sings the heck out of all his songs. He has such an amazing singing voice and I am thrilled to have been there live to hear it! He really got down to the depths of the pain and struggle his character goes through. He really tapped into the emotions needed to play this role. Aaron Lazar was terrific playing "Roger," "Gordon's boyfriend!" I was definitely taken on "Roger's" journey and what journey it was. I went from hating "Roger" to adoring him by the end! What a transformation and Aaron's voice was just golden! I was delighted he got to showcase it several times throughout the show on "I'd Rather Be Sailing," "Just Go," "MRI Tomorrow," and "A Really Lousy Day in the Universe." I absolutely adore Ana Gasteyer. I've seen her in a few theatrical shows and I'm always impressed by her talent, especially her vocal quality. Tonight, as "Mimi Schwinn," "Gordon's mother," Ana shined bright especially during "Mother's Gonna Make Things Fine," "Throw It Out," and "The Music Still Plays On." She has quite the vocal strength and it's great she gets to use it! Then there was Rema Webb as "Lisa, a homeless lady." This was my first time being introduced to Rema and from the moment she set foot on stage, I was taken with her talent and soulful, powerhouse vocals! She definitely stole the spotlight every time she was on stage, especially during "Change," and "A Really Lousy Day in the Universe," and "The Homeless Lady's Revenge." Rema is definitely a talent I intend to keep my eye on!
With only 3 performances left, "Just Go" see this life changing show! I was so moved by this production that I hope there is a bigger life then this limited run! It's a show everyone can relate to! A New Brain runs through this Saturday, June 27 only! Click here for tickets!
That's Adam's Call and I Stand For Entertainment!