CHICAGO – Theo Ubique Artistic Director Fred Anzevino’s cast for the company’s upcoming production of the semi-autobiographical musical A NEW BRAIN will include a mix of newcomers as well as faces familiar to Chicago audiences. Anzevino will be stage director and Jeremy Ramey, who earlier this year won a Jeff Award for the company’s THE MOST HAPPY FELLA, will be music director. Cameron Turner will return to Theo Ubique as choreographer, after choreographing HONKY TONK ANGELS for the company last fall.
A NEW BRAIN premiered off-Broadway in 1998 after a series of workshops and returned to New York in 2015 as part of City Center’s ENCORES! Series. It has enjoyed a healthy regional life over the years.
The musical was inspired by a real-life crisis composer-lyricist William Finn experienced in 1992. Not long after winning Tony Awards for his landmark FALSETTOS, Finn started feeling dizzy, and his vision started to fail. The diagnosis? An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in his brain stem. Following a risky but successful surgery, Finn resolved to not leave his piano “without writing a decent song” and the result was A NEW BRAIN – a musical with 32 songs including “I’d Rather Be Sailing,” “I Feel So Much Spring” and “Heart and Music.”
Finn’s stage counterpart in the musical is Gordon Schwinn, an aspiring musical theater writer who pays his bills writing songs for a children’s television show called “Mr. Bungee’s Lily Pad.” It’s a job he hates, and while venting his complaints at a lunch meeting with his agent, he collapses and face-plants into his meal. He is rushed to the hospital, where an AVM is detected and surgery is prepared. Even with his mother, agent, and lover at his side, Gordon is lost in fear that he will leave without having properly shared the songs still deep inside him. Deep in an apparent coma, he begins to write the songs he believes he must create and the audience sees the songs come to life on stage.
Theo Ubique’s Gordon Schwinn will be played by a new face: Chase Heinemann, a recent graduate of the Chicago College for the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. Cast as his lover Roger is Colin Schreier, an alumnus of Indiana University who just completed a role in HAIR at Metropolis Arts Centre. Liz Norton, playing Gordon’s mother Mimi, is a favorite of Milwaukee audiences, where she has played the title roles in MAME and HELLO, DOLLY! Lisa, the homeless lady who heckles Gordon and haunts his hallucinations, will be played by Veronica Garza, who just recently claimed a Jeff Award for her tour de force dramedic turn in TONYA AND NANCY: THE ROCK OPERA.
The not-so-understanding Mr. Bungee will be played by Chicago newcomer Andy Brown, who will have just finished a season of summer stock in Missouri. Tommy Bullington, a Jeff winner for 2014’s RETURN TO NEVERLAND, will play Richard, a nurse.
The cast is rounded out with Holly Atwood (Nancy/Waitress); Danny Dwaine Wells II (Minister/Ensemble); Tyler Symone (Rhoda); and Kyle Ryan (Doctor/Ensemble). The design team will include Abbie Reed (scenic design), Bill Morey (costume design) and James Kolditz (lighting design). Mina Slater is Resident Stage Manager.
All performances will be staged in the intimate No Exit Café, 6970 N. Glenwood Avenue in Rogers Park. Tickets are on sale now at www.theo-u.org.
A NEW BRAIN
Music and Lyrics by William Finn; Book by William Finn and James Lapine
Directed by Fred Anzevino
Music Directed by Jeremy Ramey
Choreography by Cameron Turner
September 15 – October 29, 2017
Ticket prices previews, September 15 – 17: All seats $20
Ticket prices regular run: Thursdays and Sundays $29, Fridays and Saturdays $34 ($4 discount for seniors and students)
Dinner (optional) is $25 additional. Advance reservations required.
Curtain Times: Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm; Sundays at 7:00 pm.
All performances will be held at the No Exit Café located at 6970 N Glenwood Ave.
More information at www.theo-u.com (http://www.theo-u.com) or by phone at 800-595-4849.
Student Rush All Season Long! (All unsold tickets are $20 at the door with college ID. Tickets will be sold on site, cash only, at curtain. First come, first served, subject to availability.) Tickets available at www.theo-u.com (http://www.theo-u.com) or by phone at 800-595-4849.
ABOUT THEO UBIQUE
Theo Ubique was founded in 1997 by artistic director Fred Anzevino. Productions were first staged at the Heartland Studio Theatre, and then in 2004, at No Exit Café, where the company began focusing on musicals and revues, reigniting the cabaret theatre trend in Chicago. Since then, Theo Ubique has produced more than 50 shows and received more than 40 Jeff Awards, having received more than 100 nominations. It has also received three After Dark Awards.