William Finn and James Lapine’s A New Brain ranks highly in my musical theatre playlist and Pipedream Theatre’s production more than lives up to expectations in its Vancouver premiere.
Save for a spattering of inaudible lyrics lost to upstage singing and some occasional overly-loud piano, Tuesday’s preview of A New Brain went off with few hitches.
It’s Finn’s semi-autobiographical story of a song-writer, Gordon Schwinn, who is hospitalized with a life-threatening illness and faces the possibility of not being able to finish the songs he dreams of writing.
Andrew Cohen more than holds his own as the lead Gordon, amid a very strong ensemble cast. Cohen and Tyson Coady, as his lover, Roger, score some tender romantic moments in both “Just Go” and the reprise of “Sailing.”
Georgia Swinton playing multiple roles as an overly-familiar waitress and as nurse Nancy D. is a delight to watch.
Sabrina Prada as Gordon’s mother Mimi, is a stand-out, and neatly steals the spotlight in the tail half with “Throw It Out” and “Music Still Plays On.” I can’t wait to see her again soon in more Vancouver productions.
William Finn’s score shines best in the ensemble numbers and choreographer Keri Minty (who I last saw this spring as Sheila in Royal City’s A Chorus Line) really makes the most of them in a balancing act of cohesiveness and controlled chaos.
The show runs for approximately 100 minutes with no intermission at Performance Works on Granville Island until June 21st. Evening performances: Wed-Sat, June 17th-20, 8pm | Matinees: Sat-Sun, June 20-21, 2pm. Tickets available at http://www.ticketstonight.ca. Students: $15.00 | Adults: $20.00.