Tony Award-winner Michael Rupert will play the ailing Gordon Schwinn in the Washington, DC, Studio Theatre's staging of A New Brain, the unique William Finn-James Lapine musical that explores a songwriter's emotional troubles when he is diagnosed with an apparent brain tumor.
Serge Seiden directs at the Studio's Mead Theatre space, Nov. 14-Dec. 23. Rupert won the Best Supporting Actor Tony for the 1985-86 revival of Sweet Charity, and appeared Off-Broadway in Finn's Falsettoland and March of the Falsettos, earlier versions of the 1991-92 Broadway musical, Falsettos, which earned composer lyricist-librettist Finn the Tony Award for Best Score. Rupert was Tony nommed as Best Actor for Falsettos in 1992. Lapine and Finn have been longtime collaborators and co-created A New Brain, Falsettos and the recent musicals, Muscle (which had a spring test run at a small non-Equity theatre in Chicago) and The Royal Family of Broadway (still in development).
A New Brain (co-written by Lapine and Finn) is semi autobiographical, based on Finn's scrape with brain disease that was discovered around the time of his Tony Award win. The darkly comic and quirky show premiered in 1998 at the Mitzi Newhouse Theatre where it played a summer run starring Malcolm Gets, and later Lewis Cleale. A cast album resulted. It has since sprouted in regional productions.
The DC cast includes Scott Leonard Fortune, Will Gartshore, Kristy Glass, Duncan Hood, Eric Lee Johnson, Buzz Mauro, Mary Jane Raleigh, Judy Simmons and Andrea Frierson-Toney. Michael Bobbitt choreographs, Jay Crowder is musical director, pianist and conductor.
Designers are Daniel Conway (setting), Michael Giannitti (lighting), Devon Painter (costumes), Maureen Tobin (sound) and Michelle Elwyn (properties). Official opening is Nov. 18. Tickets are $19.50-$43.50. The Studio Theatre is at 1333 P Street NW (the northeast corner of P and 14th Streets). For information, call (202) 332-3300 or visit www.studiotheatre.org.
— By Kenneth Jones