The West Coast premiere of William Finn's A New Brain finishes performances at San Francisco's New Conservatory Theatre Center Nov. 26. This concert version of Finn's Off-Broadway musical began performances Nov. 1 with an opening Nov. 4.
Composer-lyricist Finn wrote A New Brain with James Lapine, drawing on Finn's real-life crisis in 1992, when his brain malfunctioned and a doctor mistakenly diagnosed it as an inoperable brain tumor. Graciela Daniele staged the original 1998 production at Lincoln Center Theatre's Mitzi Newhouse.
A New Brain is the seriocomic tale of songwriter Gordon Schwinn, who, while creating kiddie tunes for the amphibious Mr. Bungee Show, discovers he has a brain tumor. His friend Rhoda, lover Roger, mother and even the local homeless woman help him understand the gift of life. Songs include "The Music Still Plays On" and "Sailing." The score is preserved on a cast album with Malcolm Gets as Gordon.
In Concert vet George Quick (Boy Meets Boy) directs. Also an actor, Quick recently graced the NCTC stages as the lead in The Harvey Milk Show and Tracy in Key West. Michael O'Dell, who joined Varla Jean Merman at the piano on her Enough About Me show, is the musical director.
Tickets are $30-$13 and available by calling the New Conservatory box office at (415) 861-8972. The New Conservatory Theatre Center is located 25 Van Ness Avenue near Market Street. * The West Coast premiere of William Finn's A New Brain kicked off San Francisco's New Conservatory Theatre Center's second annual In Concert series. The season will also feature Rodgers and Hammerstein's A Grand Night for Singing (Dec. 6-Jan. 21), Chess (April 4-29) and Forever Plaid (May 30-July 8).
-- By Christine Ehren