New York | 2h 15m | Already closed

A New Brain

From 10 critic and 26 member reviews
Members say: Entertaining, Clever, Great acting, Funny, Great writing

About the show

This autobiographical 1998 musical from Tony Award winner William Finn is a medical tragedy as seen through the lens of a Looney Tunes short. More…

After struggling composer Gordon Michael Schwinn collapses face-first into a plate of spaghetti, he is diagnosed with a brain tumor and is forced to come to terms with his creative ambitions and the lovable screw-ups in his life: an overbearing mother, a ruthless kiddie-show host named Mr. Bungee, and a boyfriend who’d “rather be sailing.”


"With 'A New Brain', Lapine proves once again how good he is at directing his own material, sending us on a dizzying voyage through the valley of the shadow of death that's as dark as it is lighthearted...Ultimately, this production proves that 'A New Brain' is one big affirmation of life, and a reminder that every day we have on this planet is a gift." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"To some, 'A New Brain', William Finn’s autobiographically-based musical about his brief battle with a brain injury, will always seem like an odd, slightly self-indulgent curiosity. To others, myself included, the show is a moving testament to the power of love and hope, blessed with some of the most glorious and inventive music written for the theater in the past 20 years. And I suspect whichever side you may be on, you will never see a more perfectly cast production." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Though tangible reality is essentially a character, and makes its presence keenly felt at certain points, its application represents the shakiest sections of the show's otherwise rock-solid concept...So, no, 'A New Brain' is not perfect. Still, such flaws hardly matter when the presentation and the casting are as elegant as they are here...With an artistry that is at once touching and objective. That elevates the show and transports us to the realm of insight and wonder only accessible by wa... Full Review

Stage Buddy

"The production under Lapine’s direction, with musical direction by Chris Fenwick and new orchestral arrangements by the one and only Jason Robert Brown, may have been small in scale, but it was huge in its emotional scope. It’s safe to assume that all attendees left the theatre with newfound appreciation for life, music and love. It was pure bliss." Full Review

AM New York

"The unpredictable, often catchy score alternates between madcap, hallucinatory production numbers and gorgeous, tender ballads...The current production has very little scenery, which makes it look rather empty in the big theater. Nevertheless, the musical plows ahead without pause for 100 minutes and giddily sweeps the audience along." Full Review

The New York Times

“An attractively abstract, shadow-filled production directed by Mr. Lapine, the show remains, as it was, what is essentially one long, harmonious thank-you note for second chances in life...'A New Brain' has been given a top-flight physical production...Both eccentrically individual and universal, these songs evoke the original, piquant talent of a composer whose singular style otherwise feels strangely absent." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"With its existential questions and probing narrative, 'A New Brain' suffers a bit from an unwillingness to prune away some of its revue-form roots: There are too many songs and, especially, too many wrap-it-up songs at the end. But the miracle is that the show is nevertheless terribly moving, making excellent use of what can, in other contexts, be Finn’s least successful tics...The authors have also fiddled with the material, sharpening and tightening it significantly." Full Review

New York Post

"Finn is an idiosyncratic lyricist/composer with a unique gift for nakedly emotional songs...Other parts of the show haven’t aged nearly as well, like the grating childlike vibe associated with Mr. Bungee...Though the musical is uneven, Groff effortlessly keeps the production together with his supple voice and low-key charm." Full Review

New York Daily News

"A tuneful and chipper number in 'A New Brain' repeatedly points out that you need 'heart and music to survive.' The show heeds half that smart advice...This 'Brain' could use more heart...There’s an almost clinical detachment toward the characters." Full Review

Chicago Theater Beat

for a previous production "All fall a little short in giving their characters the quirkiness that Schwinn and Finn surely see in them, though. There are opportunities for each of those roles to be quite funny, which these actresses didn’t entirely find...At the end of the day, though, 'A New Brain' is all about the music, and this cast delivers it thrillingly" Full Review

Thought-provoking, Profound, Must see, Great writing, Absorbing

See it if You like a heart-felt musical experience.

Don't see it if You aren't sentimental.

Absorbing, Delightful, Clever, Entertaining, Great writing

See it if You love new and clever musicals.

Don't see it if You think it's not a headliner (which it should be).

Clever, Entertaining, Thought-provoking, Refreshing, Profound

See it if You want to be amazed by William Finn's genius. You want a story of second chances. You want an original, witty musical.

Don't see it if The description says "through the lens of a Looney Tunes short," it's accurate. It's zany at times, and if zany isn't your thing, skip it.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting

See it if You like William Finn musicals, you don't have any issues with the storyline.

Don't see it if You are turned off by quirky and different musicals.

Funny, Great writing, Original, Entertaining, Clever

See it if you're a fan of Bill Finn's work, or are looking for something new.

Don't see it if you don't want show tunes to be stuck in your head all week!

Entertaining, Funny, Great writing, Romantic, Relevant

See it if You want to hear one of the best musical theater scores of the past 20 years.

Don't see it if You like shows with big production numbers.

Clever, Enchanting, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting

See it if -Catchy,upbeat songs

Don't see it if -Random sequences -Not a fan of William Finn

Romantic, Original, Masterful, Entertaining, Great acting

See it if A great job done by actors putting 110%. Most of the music enjoyable. I appreciated this show as a medical professional.

Don't see it if Some numbers were just odd, but overall well done. Don't enjoy semi-stagged productions.

Entertaining, Great acting, Original

See it if you want to see an biographical musical with a great cast and a good score

Don't see it if You don't like the cast or are looking for a big production with a large cast and big song and dance numbers

Clever, Great acting, Funny, Entertaining

See it if you like the wonderful lyrics of William Finn and excellent acting and vocals

Don't see it if you can't sit for 80++ minutes without and intermission or have issues with medical or gay themes.

Great music, Absorbing, Interesting, Unique, Entertaining

See it if you're looking for biographical show that is a little unconventional & don't mind one that deals with some serious medical themes.

Don't see it if you're turned off by autobiographical shows or irreverent depictions of medial issues.

Great acting, Great staging, Enchanting

See it if you are a fan of the music (which you should be), you're interested in musicals that tell a unique story.

Don't see it if you're afraid of hospitals.

Miscast, Great writing, Great staging, Ambitious, Hilarious

See it if you love the work of Bill Finn

Don't see it if you want a Jonathan Groff Vehicle, he was completely miscast and unfortunately boring

Also As a superfan of the original cast album Jonathan Groff was a big let ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Original

See it if you want a contemporary story & engaging likable, but complicated characters.

Don't see it if you're looking for catchy, epic music.

Entertaining, Funny, Intelligent, Interesting

See it if Great concert version. Great talent. Interesting plot

Don't see it if You think Jonathan Groff should be heard but not seen.

Entertaining, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You're a fan of the performers or the score. Ana Gasteyer was a standout!

Don't see it if You don't like concert stagings or not a fan of the piece.

Quirky, Original, Confusing, Disappointing, Weird

See it if you enjoy off-beat shows and are willing to try something different.

Don't see it if you are a fan of more traditional musicals.

Banal, Confusing, Indulgent, Overrated, Slow

See it if You're a big enough Jonathan Groff fan to see him in absolutely anything.

Don't see it if You haven't the patience for indulging this crap.

Clever, Great staging, Great writing, Romantic, Thought-provoking

See it if Love shows about creatives!

Don't see it if Hate the gays.

Absorbing, Clever, Exquisite, Great writing

See it if you want to exerience a story that will tug at your heart strings and really get you thinking about human relationships and emotions

Don't see it if you are in to the glitz and glam musical theatre can often bring

Delightful, Great acting, Entertaining, Funny

See it if you like stories about overcoming challenges. Great singing and acting.

Don't see it if You aren't into musicals

Clever, Dated, Funny, Edgy, Great singing

See it if If you appreciate tongue-n-cheek lyrics and appreciate stellar jazz harmonies.

Don't see it if If you aren't slightly silly. This show requires a twisted, dark humor.

Quirky, Funny, Entertaining, Refreshing, Great singing

See it if You like Jonathan Groff and a totally new story

Don't see it if You are easily bored

Funny, Quirky, Confusing, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You like witty comedy. This show has good music. Great set design as well. Its a cute show. Not my favorite but its good.

Don't see it if you have any issues with sexuality.

Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Hilarious

See it if You love musicals.This musicals incorporates everything we love about musicals.It mixed with serious situations and lighthearted comedy.

Don't see it if You don't like subjects of homosexuality or brain issues.

Cast & Creatives

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