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  A New Brain at No Exit Cafe

A New Brain

No Exit Cafe
6970 N. Glenwood Chicago

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."

Presented by Theo Ubique

Thru - Oct 29, 2017

Price: $29-$34

Show Type: Musical

Box Office: 773-347-1109

Nearby Restaurants

  A New Brain Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"...If you watched this mostly young cast closely - and Theo Ubique specializes in the discovery of young singers - you could truly feel the moments when they were buoyed by what they were hearing from the rest of the ensemble and realized that their individual presence here was ennobled by the whole. This tiny space always creates non-conventional dynamics of performer and audience and rarely has that been more true. An actor can't lie easily at Theo Ubique - people are sitting too close for that - and nobody here even tries to express anything but truth."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...Anzevino has assembled a fabulous cast whose vocal power, acting chops and ensemble cohesion suggests long years of experience. Yet Heinemann just graduated from the Chicago College for the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, Schreier is making his Chicago debut, and Franklin is currently a junior at Columbia College - and all are exceptional. So is Norton, a Milwaukee-based veteran and force-of-nature performer, and Garza, who strutted her formidable stuff last season in "Tonya and Nancy: The Rock Opera," earning a Jeff Award for her bravura turn as both girls' mothers."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...The power of this riveting piece is only amplified in Theo Ubique's intimate cabaret space at the No Exit Cafe, and director Fred Anzevino has packed his ensemble with energetic, near virtuosic performers-Chase Heinemann is especially winning as the fictionalized Finn (here Schwinn), though it's newcomer Tyler Franklin, still only a junior at Columbia College, who steals the show."
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Jack Helbig

BroadwayWorld - Highly Recommended

"...Veronica Gara belts the hell out of her songs as Lisa the Homeless Lady. She too appears as a bedside hallucination of sorts begging for "Change" (referencing not only coins, but pleading for something other than the status quo). Her character is one of the last the Gordon sees before his medical crisis, but it has never made much sense to me why a homeless womanfigures so prominently in Gordon's life in all the productions of this show I have seen."
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Misha Davenport

Time Out Chicago - Recommended

"...But the standouts that really make the evening pop, along with Bullington, are Garza as Lisa, a completely extraneous character she renders indispensable, and Norton as Mimi, Gordon’s upright, no-holds-barred, gale-wind force of a mother. She gives the evening’s subtlest, most grounded performance. Even when Mimi’s doing something as outrageous as throwing away all of Gordon’s books (since obviously they’ve made his head explode), you believe every second of it."
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Alex Huntsberger

Theatre By Numbers - Highly Recommended

"...There is a metronome working overtime deep in the heart of Theo Ubique’s “A New Brain”, that keeps things so precise and expert, it’s almost like were in a operating theater, being tutored by a flock of luminaries. Playing space be damned, the cast and creative team bring this performance close enough to incorporate the whole audience into it. The players are bounding up and down your aisles, directing their lyrics sometimes solely to you, if you’re in the right place and the mood strikes them. Hell, if you ordered a beer, look again; the man who brought you your pint and glass a moment ago has now hoisted a small canvas sail, and sings aloofly to his one true love, a sailboat. The confidence and dexterity of a cast has never come together so well, and it’s worth more than all the spectacular effects money could buy."
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Sean Margaret Wagner

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...This story is propelled by its music, which makes sense when it is about a composer, but the songs will not be ones you will remember- they are just a part of the whole which is a treat from start to end. The musical director for this show (and almost every show) is Jeremy Ramey (on the keyboard) who with his "orchestra" Sarah Younker/Marti Kallenberger (French Horn), Anthony Parsons (Reeds) and Carlos Mendoza (Drums) fill this space with the rich sounds to accompany the story-telling lyrics. They are flawless."
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...As the days grow shorter but the nights remain warm, feel-good shows like “A New Brain” are the perfect accompaniment. Composer-lyricist William Finn’s show is based on his harrowing experience with an arteriovenous malformation to his brain stem and the art/work he was inspired to make after he left the hospital. Finn’s music is warm, touching and lovingly executed by Fred Anzevino’s cast and production team."
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Danielle Levsky

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...While not the composer’s best-known work, Theo Ubique, under the guidance of Fred Anzevino, Jeremy Ramey and Cameron Turner, offers a wise, empathetic and entertaining look at the complicated playground that is the creative mind. Originally written as just a series of songs, following composer/lyricist William Finn’s departure from the hospital after his own life-and-death episode, “A New Brain” eventually evolved into a 1998 Off-Broadway musical. Now featuring over two dozen songs, this is one of Theo Ubique’s finest, most sensitive, not-to-be-missed productions, and an outstanding curtain-raiser for their new season of excellent musicals."
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Colin Douglas

Huffington Post - Highly Recommended

"...A New Brain is one of my personal favorites. It’s filled with outstanding character songs (and, boy, are these some characters who make up Finn’s world), toe-tapping ensemble numbers, surprising bursts of emotion and humor, and a beautiful, pulsating heart of a message."
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Bob Bullen

Chicagoland Musical Theatre - Highly Recommended

"...Funny, melodic, poignant and sometimes sad, the 1998, never-been-to-Broadway, A New Brain, is a jarringly sweet nod to the peculiar cast of characters who make up each person’s existence, influenced by each unique journey."
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Barry Reszel

   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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