|A New Brain (1998 Original Cast)
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William Finn is an acquired taste. Not only is this lyricist-composer one of the few proponents of the (mostly) sung-through musical, but he favors unlikely subjects. His 1992 musical Falsettos was about love, a bar mitzvah, AIDS, and mortality; A New Brain deals with a brain tumor and art and, yes, mortality and love. Both witty and touching, the show displays Finn's melodic gift and his talent for suggesting sentiment without sentimentality. The supporting cast, including Chip Zien, Kristin Chenoweth, and Penny Fuller, is a collection of New York's finest stage actors, each of whom gets at least one splendid song. In the lead, Malcolm Gets allows the listener direct access into Gordon Schwinn's innermost emotions. An acquired taste, yes, but one that will linger in your memory and heart. --Elisabeth Vincentelli
- A New Dud
While there are some nice parts in 'A New Brain' they are few and far in between. So few and far in between that anywhere "in between" is boring and a near torture to sit through.
'Sitting Becalmed in the Lee of Cuttyhunk' and 'Eating Myself up Alive' are phenominal and they are the standout songs on this set, but they shouldn't be the standout songs.
Songs like 'I Feel So Much Spring (which should be the standout song)' 'I'd Rather Be Sailing' and 'And They're Off' are ineffective and silly. Rhyming herd with four letter word and ideede with ziti (in Calamari) shows a lack of good lyric writing and complete use of forced rhyme, which is evident throughout the piece. 'I'd Rather Be Sailing' is outright ridiculous.
Where 'A New Brain' fails the most is in completely missing great comic potential. Here, Finn had a opportunity to write catchy comic numbers with 'Poor, Unsuccessful, and Fat' and 'The Homeless Lady's Revenge.' However, what we are left with are boring "filler" type songs, that really acheive no purpose by being in the score.
Overall- some of it's enjoyable, but 'A New Brain' is a less than mediocre show that belonged where it was- off Broadway.
'I Feel So Much Spring' was the biggest disappointment after what I read on here. A very weak song and a very poor way to end the show.
'A New Brain' quickly took a dormant position on my cd shelf- never to be heard from again....more info
- Haunting melodies, great cast
I really love this piece! My only complaint is Kristen Chenowyth is underutilized, but other than that, some really great songs. "Heart and Music," "I Feel So Much Spring Within Me," and "Gordon's Law of Genetics" (really fun) are all great. My favorite, however, is "And They're Off." Amazing!
I wake up with a song from this musical in my head almost every morning. I haven't listened to it since last weekend, but today (5 days later), I awoke with Kristen singing "I love Mr. Bungee" in my head. It makes waking up early a lot easier!
Thank you, William Finn, for another wonderful musical that makes being a theatre fan so worth it!! I hope I'm able to see a production of this piece one day......more info
- I CAN'T EVEN DESCRIBE IT'S *GREATNESS* IN WORDS!
When I first heard the storyline, I was like "Oh wow, brain surgery, what a perfect topic to song and dance to" meant sarcastically, but I ended up being right! The music is just simply amazing, the many styles of music that Finn uses is breathtaking, I really wish it hadn't been so underestimated since the untalented Helen Hunt was starring in a play in the same place at the same time, but that's in the past. I *NEED* to make this clear: TO MISS THIS MUSICAL WILL BE TH STUPIDEST THING YOU WILL EVER CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR THEATRE LIFE! :-)
I realize some people think lowly of this musical, but I think I figured it out. Now, to love this musical, you have to be totally appreciative and loving towards theatre. If you absolutely ADORE theatre, you'll love this musical! But if you just merely *like* theatre, you won't. So, THIS IS A MUST FOR THEATRE-LOVERS EVERYWHERE! :-)...more info
- Wonderfully Amazing in every way,
This show is absolutely wonderful. If you are a fan of intricate, witty, bright, gay (as in happy, but you can also take it literally as the main character is as so), then you will love A NEW BRAIN.
I received this show in the mail today, at about 9:45. I have listened to it four times. Yes, I have little life on Fridays (during the day), but I cannot put it down.
This show is hands down amazing. The cast is PERFECT. The roles are filled with fabulous imagery and the dialoge is marvelously witty.
This show is a MUST HAVE for any musical connoisseur.
BUY IT!!! NOW!!!...more info
- Like fungus, it grows on you
I bought this CD on a whim, having never heard anything about it or from it. At first listen, I wasn't terribly impressed. A few decent songs but I wasn't raving. But, un-like the other whim purchase of the evening ("Tell me on a Sunday" with Andrew Lloyd Webber music), it stuck in my head and I had the irresistable urge to listen to it again. And I did. And again. And again. And suddenly, I was a fan. Not only are there entrancing passages of music (I am especially fond of "An Invitation to Sleep in My Arms" though that's only one of several) but the bare emotional truth felt throughout really catches you, especially if you have any dreams or ambitions you haven't fulfilled. You can't listen to Gordon sing his lamentations over songs not written and not feel. If you want something unique and interesting to listen to for once, get this CD....more info
- Mine isn't the most educated of tastes but...
I'm not actually a Finn fan or even a Sondheim fan simply due to a lack of exposure to their music. Still, I enjoyed this CD for it's catchy, upbeat tunes. There's a sweet story and seemingly unrelated songs are cleverly woven together into a surprisingly coherent plot. The music wasn't the grand, sweeping stuff I've heard alot of lately, but has complexities and originality that a lot of the more commercial stuff has lost. I was pleasantly surprised at the results of ordering "A New Brain" on a whim, mostly due to the intriguing title. The music was well worth it....more info
- Weird and Wonderful
Who would think a show about brain surgery with songs about frogs, fat nurses, being brain dead and horse racing could be so wonderful...but this one is. It is delightfully offbeat. The domineering mother in denial has a great song "Mother will make things fine"...Malcome Getz shows his stuff with "And they're off" and "Brain Dead"...BUY THIS CD, you wont regret it...more info
- Give it a try...it grows on you
Many people don't care for William Finn's music because it is (A) too realistic and/or (B) too frenetic and disjointed. I suggest that people who don't like Finn's pieces at least give this recording 2 or 3 listenings before they make a decision. This CD took me a while to appreciate (and I loved "Falsettos" and even performed Mendel in a production); but now I find this to be one of my favorite cast recordings!
The whole cast is up to the challenge of Finn's score. Malcolm Gets is perfect as the afflicted man facing his eminent demise. And Norm Lewis (as Gets' love interest) is absolutely phenomenal as always! That man could sing the phone book and it would sound great! And even though I wish Kristen Chenowith had a larger role, I still found her to be as amazing as ever.
I believe that this may be a show that needs to be viewed to be appreciated fully. I have never seen it, but truly appreciate the difficulty of the score and the subject matter. It is unfortunate that this show is not performed by more amateur theater groups. It would reach out to many who think theater is merely singing and dancing cotton candy fluff. This show is far from fluff and it succeeds where it needs to succeed -- in displaying the true human spirit in a time of crisis....more info
- Malcom Gets blows you away
This is such a great cd, original everything. Malcom Gets sounded so great, and Chip Zein was wonderful as usual. Delightful songs always get me singing, also check out Fallsettos by William Finn. You cant go wrong here...more info
- Intelligent & Refreshing
Brain surgery? In a musical?
Call me old-fashioned, but when I first heard of the subject matter for this new mucial, I thought it was rather...well, strange. How could a composer handle writing effective music about brain surgery and then combine it with a story that...made sense. William Finn was able to handle it and then some in his masterpiece, "A New Brain".
The three-part introduction, which probably gets at least partially ignored by many, does a tremendous job of setting the tone for the musical. In the three or four minutes that are taken up my the introduction, there are about one-hundred different emotions expressed by various members of the cast. These emotions pop up again in reverse chronological order throughout the remainder of the musical. I thought it was fascinating how the first line and the last line of the musical, while they have the same musical structure and have all but three words in common ("Frogs have so much spring within them" to "I feel so much spring (within me)"), perfectly represent the journey taken by the main character throughout the course of the musical.
The first complete song is "Heart and Music" and that song alone is worth the $13.99 you pay for the entire CD. It begins as a duet between Gordon, the main character, and the minister, but gradually builds to an end filled with lush harmony provided by the entire cast. I could probably go on forever discussing each individual song, but that would take hours. And becasue each song seems to be better than the previous, I can't really mention any standouts.
When it comes to the cast, there are also no real standouts because each cast member is equally fabulous. Kristin Chenoweth, Chip Zien, Malcolm Gets, Mary Testa, Penny Fuller, Norm Lewis and the rest of the cast give performances of a lifetime. After Norm Lewis' sensitive rendition of the gorgeous "I'd Rather Be Sailing", I was nearly reduced to tears. Krsitin Chenoweth made me laugh with just her two verses in "Calamari". Mary Testa absolutely blew me away with "Change". And don't get me started on the show-stopping job done by Malcolm Gets on "And They're Off" and "I Feel So Much Spring"...
This album is a real gem. Buy it and give it a chance to grow on you. Although there's no denying this CD is for the open-minded and the people who have already experienced a wide range of musical theatre. If all you know is "Oklahoma" and "Guys & Dolls", you're probably not someone who can appreciate the the rich, effective blend between music and lyrics that is so truly rare these days or the skill it takes to take such a delicate, complicated story and weave it into that blend of music and lyrics. If however you are one of these people, I assure you that you'll fall in love with "A New Brain" as I did.
With the new musicals coming out today on Broadway (everything from "Footloose" to "Saturday Night Fever"), something as thought-provoking and intelligently written as "A New Brain" is a refreshing and welcomed surprise....more info
- I love it!! There's no other way to put it!
This is the first William Finn musical I've ever heard. I'll admit it was one of those impulse buys--I needed a new musical and this one came out. I am so glad I bought it! The melodies on this CD are amazing; so few songs stick in my head like these. I hum "Heart and Music" over and over. "And They're Off" is one of the best musical songs I've heard in a long time--I honestly think I listened to it 10 times in a row. "It Was A Really Lousy Day in the Universe" brought me to tears. The score is full of great lines that express characters perfectly: "Why is the smart son always the gay son?" , "Heart and music make a song" , "What was dark so long, had felt like winter, finally there's sun! And so I sing that I feel so much spring." I wish I could have seen this on stage! Malcolm Gets delivers a stunning performance of a struggling, frustrated artist trying to make it to Broadway via a childrens television show when he's confronted with a life-threatening aneurysm. The entire cast of this recording is amazing. I wish the libretto came with a synopsis to fill in a few of the plot holes, mainly about the role of the Homeless Lady. If you're looking for a change from the big-budget Broadway musicals, I highly recommend "A New Brain."...more info
- Absolutely great
I haven't heard about this musical before I read other listeners comments on this Amazon page but I decided to take the risk and buy this CD and I really can say that I haven't regret it a second. There is no doubt that this musical is one of the best in the last years. "Sailing", "They're off", "Just go" and "Invitation to sleep in my arms" are great melodies but the rest is also very good and entertaining. BUY this CD! It's worth it!...more info
- A CD that I can't take off my player.
From the first song, I knew this was a different kind of show. A show about Frogs, Brains and Fat People ! Who would have thought it could be so touching and entertaining at the same time? Tears still well up in my eyes when I hear "The Music Still Plays On"and "Sailing". And "Mother's Gonna Make Things Fine" is the ultimate song of denial. Then there is the upbeat "Heart and Music" and "And Theyre Off". The lyrics are melancholy, heartbreaking, upbeat and inspiring....all at the same time. Definitely not your father's musical...definitely very today. If you want a musical for today, but this album and cry and enjoy....more info
- Best Musical of the '90's
William Finn is well known for writing March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland.He wrote these in the '80s. The central character was gay,married and had aids.A NEW BRAIN is his latest production. Again the central character is gay, not married, but has suffered a life threatening brain aneurysm. The score for this musical surpasses anything that Finn has done in the past. It is moving and funny and an absolute joy to hear. It's a very addictive score. The more you listen to it the more you fall in love with it. A 5 star cast soars with the equally grand material. Malcolm Gets, Penny Fuller, Norm Lewis, Chip Zien, Kristin Chenoweth are the principals involved. They make you laugh one minute and break your heart the next. You owe it to yourself to listen to this beautiful and sensitive score. You won't regret it....more info
- absolutely brilliant
This musical brought together the absolute talent of the cast with the brilliant writing of William Finn to display the finest in braodway shows ever. Malcolm Gets was fantastic and his supporting cast was marvelous as well. Anyone who wants to see THE best musical in the world, should without a doubt see A New Brain - it will give you a new out look on life...more info
A New Brain is amazing. If you like only musicals of the Oklahoma! or Phantom of the Opera varities, this show may not be for you. But it literally saved my sanity.
I'm a Broadway nerd who had a year-long health crisis, and I bought this soundtrack because I'd heard it was set in the middle of someone else's crisis. It's brilliant. First, "And They're Off," has to be one of the best Broadway songs I've ever heard--it's this amazing combination of Menken (from Little Shop...) and lyrics that would make Sondheim proud...or even a little jealous. Maybe I'm crazy, but I think I can hear the beat of the MRI machine behind "Sitting Becalmed in the Lee of Cuttyhunk,"...that's so different and cool.
I can hear a little bit of formula in the show--"Heart and Music" reminds me of "Welcome to Falsettoland," "Brain Dead" is reminscent of "The Chess Game," from March. There are other similarities too--you'll hear strains of "Anytime" from Elegies near the end (which, I believe, was originally cut from this show). But this show is far from formulaic--"Gordo's Law of Genetics," "Poor, Unsuccessful and Fat" and "Yes," are laugh-out-loud funny. "Sailing" is a gorgeous ballad that I'd like to hear more men sing in auditions...and then there's "Eating Myself Up Alive," which is, simply put, amazing.
Finn fans will love it--Sondheim purists might, too. I know I do....more info
- surreal... but really nice...
there is nothing better than starting the day with the song "I fell so much spring". at least that's how i start the day now after listening to william finn's A New Brain. while it is supposed to be a gay musical, it's "gay-ness" actually becomes incidental -- it deals with something far bigger that "being gay". it deals about life, about grabbing the opportunities life offers you, about moving on along (after books have been thrown, after horses have gone beyond the bend, after the son is gone)... about getting the music to play on and on and on. interesting. wonderful. mr bungee is surreally funny. but hell, it is gordo and roger who made the scene for me -- i can imagine in my mind the way they held each other while singing "i'd rather be sailing". there are so many things to say about this musical. all of these can be summarized in 1 word -- WONDERFUL. great work!...more info
- Can't get enough of Malcolm Gets
Ok, I admit it. I bought this cd only because it showcases Malcolm Gets' beautiful voice. I saw him perform "I Feel So Much Spring" on the "Rosie O'Donnell Show" in 1998 and didn't really think that much of it. I have, however, been a huge fan of Malcolm Gets, especially in his role as Richard on "Caroline in the City" and now that the show has been cancelled and only runs in syndication, I thought I'd give this cd a try.
I wasn't all that impressed with it the first time through; after all, I hadn't seen the musical in the first place, and everything I knew about the plot I learned from Mr. Gets' appearances on talk shows a few years ago. But after about the third time through, the melodies began to fill my brain, and I had to keep listening to it. It's almost uncanny how quickly I was able to change my opinion of this musical. It is the type of thing that grows on you, and once it has ahold of you, it doesn't let go!
As I go about my day, I find myself humming these tunes without awareness. My biggest regret in regards to this show is that I never got to see it in person. It would be an honor to see Mr. Gets in this role live. Oh well, I will just have to continue enjoying it on a recording and use my own imagination to fill in the visuals.
I sincerely hope Malcolm Gets continues to do theatre. He is a very talented actor and musician and does not get the credit he deserves....more info
- Nothing short of wonderful!
I think most of the people that would buy this album are already probably familiar with William Finn's work. And to be a fan of William Finn means you probably are already a discriminating musical theater lover. However, it is those people that don't know Finn well that need to buy this album. Moreover, they need to give it a chance. Finn may inherit Sondheim's place in musical theater as being one of the most delightfully frustrating composers/lyricists on the scene. You really want to hate the songs when you first hear them--they are so uncoventional that I've had friends describe them as "noise." But after repeated listenings, you discern the meaning behind the song and out of all the supposed noise soars some of the most beautiful melodies to be heard in today's musical theater. I put the song "Heart and Music" as my contribution to a staff CD we made at work. Everyone hated it at first, and by the end of a few weeks, even the biggest naysayers admitted it was their favorite song. I think that's what makes Finn's musicals a tough sell on the stage--audiences only get one chance to listen. Give this CD a chance. If you hate it after repeated listenings, fine. It's probably not for everyone's taste. But don't give up after just one shot....more info
- Finn Wins with BRAIN
When I purchased this CD ... I didn't know what to expect.
Well, I loved it. I usually don't laugh out loud when I listen to musical theater CDs ... but I just couldn't help myself with this one. So clever. For instance, there's a whole song about a nurse taking Gordon's family history in the hospital. The music is stunning. My favorite songs were "Heart and Music" and "I'd Rather Be Sailing." The vocal arrangements are fantastic. Harmonies that make you go "wow."
Get this!!...more info
- Not perfect, but a well-done show
While I found some of the lyrics to be quite trite and a few of the rhymes to be overly simple, I was much impressed with the show. The story is entertaining and the vocal talent of the cast is unquestionable....more info
I wish I had seen this show... The music is incredible and Malcolm Gets is wonderfully talented and amusing. I bought this CD as the trees were budding here in Toronto, and "I Feel So Much Spring" sent shivers down my spine over and over as I had to keep replaying the song. I don't think I've ever appreciated the transformation of spring more than I have this year....more info
- This show will live again
How can something so great not have made it. I often wonder this everytime i listen to this cd . Maybe being one of few to see it makes me feel this way , eventhough a few of the people I saw in the show were not on this cast recording it still does an amazing job of preserving the show for years to come . This cd also features Kristen Chenoweth from You're a good man Charlie Brown who is just one of the fabulous cast . I had a hard time getting my friends to see this show but once we left they appoligized the whole way back . I love every song of this cast recording and find it as one of the most emotionally stiring recordings in a long time...more info
- Delightfully witty and poignant
A few years ago my drama teacher made a copy of A New Brain for me. I let the tape kick around for a few months, and then one day when my CD player broke I decided to pop it into the tape player. From the first few piano chords, I was hooked! I recognized some of my favourite actors on the recording- Chip Zien of Into the Woods fame and Kristin Chenoweth who was a sensation in You're A Good Man Charlie Brown-and the talent that was brought together for the show makes the recording absolutely electric! You've never heard, nor will ever hear again, a musical whose villain is a frog named Mr. Bunjee. "Sailing" by far is my favourite song; its simplicity is absolutely moving. "I Feel So Much Spring" is the perfect end, it's touching with a note of hope and confidence for what is to come in life. I would have liked it, however, if they could have made the recording complete; in the live version there's a hillarious song sung by Mr. Bunjee called "Be Polite," which never fails to make me laugh. You'll identify with Gordon, laugh over Lisa, sympathize with Roger, and then reach over and hit "Play" on your CD player again....more info
- Two Words: GET IT
As a fan of Bill Finn's "Marvin Trilogy" I was anxious to hear "A NEW BRAIN," Finn/Lapine's Off-Broadway show about a composer who faces death due to a problem with his brain. This show is semi-autobiographical for Finn who suffered from a similar brain problem. The result: a touching show filled with some of the greatest melodies and amusing lyrics I've heard from recent shows.
Great performances are evident, including Malcolm Gets as Gordon, the main character; Norm Lewis as Gordon's lover, Roger; and Penny Fuller as Gordon's ever-intrusive mother.
While the show apparently garnered mixed reviews from critics, this CD allows the score to shine in spite of a weaker book than "FALSETTOS." With gems such as "I'd Rather Be Sailing," "I Feel So Much Spring," "The Music Still Plays On," and "Heart and Music," this disc has found a frequent home in my CD player. If you're a fan of William Finn's work, this is a must-have. If you're a general Broadway fan, I anticipate that you'll appreciate the score more than some of the other dreck out there now....more info
- You may need a new Brain after listening to this
While listening to this, you'll be a little (okay, a LOT) hesitant at first. BUT! It is great. Once you've heard Will Finn's music, you will be changed. Creative, darkly humerous, just corny enough to not scare you off. Think of music from a basic book musical mixed lyrics from something like Avanue Q. It's a great combination and a HIT!...more info
- A NEW BRAIN soars on gorgeous melodies & strong performances
William Flynn and James Lapine have, with this show, written some of the most fantastic songs I have heard in a long time. The melodies linger in your mind for days, and the lyrics touch your soul. Stand out performances are those of Malcom Gets and Norm Lewis, but the supporting cast is brilliant as well. Songs to put on repeat are: 'Heart and Music', 'Sailing', 'And there off', 'Gordon's Law of Genetics', 'Eating Myself up Alive', and 'A Really Lousy Day in the Universe'. And these are just the best tracks from a score that gets better every time you listen. Thank heavens that people like William Flynn are writing for the musical theatre....more info
- Everything you'd expect and more!
William Finn is brilliant! I absolutely love the lyrics to the songs in this musical. I know most reviewers claim that's where he lacks, but I think they're very witty and honest! The characters develop very nicely, from Rhoda to Mr. Bungee to Roger and Mimi and of course, Gordon. I first heard of this musical when my friends used it for their forensics piece...and I loved it! I had to order it! It's great music and talented vocals really caught my attention!...more info
- "A NEW BRAIN" needs a run on the Great White Way!
This musical has some of the most beautiful and well orchestrated music I have ever heard! The ballads are beautiful and the cast is brilliant (especially Kristen Chenoweth). I am a big fan of the up tempo songs in this show, my favorites: "GORDO'S LAW OF GENETICS" and "AND THEY'RE OFF!" The final song, "I FEEL SO MUCH SPRING" gives the musical so much meaning. It is amazing that this musical has not been given a chance on Broadway....more info
- and they're off!
OK, I was so busy praising this musical I forgot to mention my favorite song. "And They're Off" is unbelievable--a driving melody conveying all the anger and processed-only-of-late acceptance of the stormy relationship of the lead character's parents. "There was blood on the ground," yes, but also, "we laughed a lot, that's the part I forgot to tell you." This is the first theater song in 20 years that has reminded me of the songs of "A Chorus Line," with its honest confessional tone, thinly veiled anger, and humor from a character who is so proud to be--finally--"looking back." I love this song, and Malcolm Gets does it for all it's worth....more info
- Luscious Lincoln Center!
Being a big fan of all the daring new musicals that are being produced Lincoln Center Theatre...the brilliance of "A New Brain" came as no surprise to me. An unlikly subject for a musical to be sure...but this is a score full of soaring melodies and some of the most plain old fun songs that I have ever heard. Enjoy this splendid recording...every moment is sheer joy!...more info
I was lucky enough to be introduced to this music and these characters from a man not unlike Gordo Schwinn...my college musical theater ensemble instructor was a man full of heart and music, and he brought this musical to many people on the central coast. In any case, the music was mind blowing to "hear" live, but the CD has many things to offer as well. The CD has wonderful orchestrations that are a wonderful addition just Bills's piano work and the actors performing the songs seems to do a splendid job. This CD is a gem and is worth every dollar you pay for it. Above all, I feel a certain kind of commanding love and honour behind the songs that Finn writes, and I respect them greatly. This CD, for an open-minded human, could provide endless hours of inspiration and admiration. You might even feel like you're sailing. Is that insane?...more info
- Wonderful musical...
I cannot recommend this musical enthusiastically enough.
Andre Bishop, in the CD's booklet, says "the score contains four or five of the most beautiful melodies EVER." I read this before listening and felt sure he was exaggerating. Upon listening, however, I realized he was not overstating his point at all. Several of the songs are as good as I have ever heard.
The story follows an aspiring broadway musical writer who is currently writing for a kids TV show about a frog - Mr. Bungee. He finds this premise less than inspiring and feels he is wasting his talent. He then gets sick and is worried that he may die before writing a great song. The story is touching, funny, witty, and ultimately very inspiring.
Malcolm Gets does a fantistic job in the lead. His voice is beautiful - I had no idea "Richard" from "Caroline in the City" could sing so well.
There are a few songs that I do not enjoy so much (a couple by his mother and a homeless lady). But, in general, the score and lyrics are so well done that most of the songs are "can't miss."
William Finn's creative genius is exemplified in the fourth track, "Heart and Music." Not only is the song wonderfully melodic and singable, but the lyrics hint at the story you are soon to hear in the rest of the musical. Ingenius!
I highly recommend this musical to everyone who loves this genre....more info
- So GOOD!
I am a major Kristin Chenoweth fan and I have started collecting everything to do with her. I've heard the song "And They're Off" at a number of auditions and I loved it, so when I found out that this song and Kristin were in the same show I had to have it. I've also had a crush on Malcolm Gets since his Richard days on "Caroline in the City". Who knew he was such an amazing singer? This CD is incredible. I have to put it up there with my favs including "Wicked" "Avenue Q" "Side Show" "The Last Five Years" and "You're A Good Man Charlie Brown". If you're looking for a great intro to the "new" Broadway style, this is it. Bravo! to the writers and performers on putting together a fantastic show....more info
- A beautiful, celebratory result of song as salvation.
Melodies so beautiful they make you weep juxtaposed to lyrics that make you bust a gut. Yes, Bill Finn has done it again! He's created yet another very personal, idosynchratic collection of songs that cut right to the marrow of the psychological and emotional places we all share. And it's a glorious experience. As was the case with all of the Marvin Musicals (In Trousers, March of the Falsettos, and Faslettoland), Mr. Finn writes lyrics filled with such wit and wonder and imbues them in music that is as clever as it is rhapsodic. All of this man's scores center around slightly neurotic, middle-class gay Jews; this time, a brain operation, of all the unmusical topics, is included. Yet each opus opens up to allow anyone with a heart to identify themselves in the character's words as they fill the alternatively lyrical and whimsical music that expresses colors of emotions that only songs of this sort can do. With a diverse collection of voices and a well-wrought orchestra, the sounds you will encounter on this recording will sometimes shock you, sometimes lull you. Don't worry. It's just the hand of Mr. Finn working his magic. When the characters sing that it takes both "heart and music" to make a song, you realize that you're getting a manifestation of that very idea right then and there: from Bill Finn's heart, through his music, to the songs that will find a place in your own heart. We are lucky that, like the main character in "A New Brain", Bill Finn has "so many songs"....more info
- almost perfect
This is a great show, and it has some seriously wonderful music. For instance: HEART AND MUSIC, AND THEY'RE OFF, GORDO'S LAW OF GENETICS, the list goes on. The performances are great, roger is so good for the part, homeless lady (mary testa) cracks me up. Gordo is also very good, and Kristin Chenoweth really shines despite her small part. The poor unsuccessful and fat guy is great too. Some of the songs drag after a while, and some are not the best, but nonetheless, buy this CD, it's worth your time...more info
- Buy this cd.
I loved this show when I saw it - and I was reminded of just how much when I pulled out the cd again recently. This is an incredibly strong score, beautifully performed.
Norm Lewis breaks my heart. Penny Fuller is a goddess. Mary Testa is a gift from heaven.
This show is a joy....more info
- "Poor, unsuccessful and fat... and getting older.."
I had the very great honor of being cast as Richard, the Nice Nurse in my university's production of this show. Not only was I in love with this show's soundtrack, I was given the honor of singing my favorite song, "Eating Myself Up Alive". The show is beautiful and awe-inspiring, with a dash of Broadway star-power and wicked humor.
William Finn has crafted the surreal yet very realistic world surrounding him during a life-threatening brain condition. After miraculously surviving, he claims that he just couldn't stop writing.
Malcom Gets heads this show off as the main character, a sarcastic jerk named Gordon Schwinn. His performance is strong, and leaves nothing to be desired. In fact, the entire cast is sharp and create memorable, fun characters. Penny Fuller, Chip Zien, Michael Mandell and the lovely Kristen Chenoweth make this a musical filled with gorgeous songs that will have you humming for weeks on end. If you get an opportunity to see this show, don't pass it up. This is a sharp, fantastic musical. Don't miss "Sailing", "Gordo's Law of Genetics", "An Invitation to Sleep In My Arms", "Eating Myself Up Alive" or "Time and Music". Perhaps the only hang up in the album is the overrated theme of the show, "Heart and Music" which is a bit corny, and definitely feels a little hollow. Otherwise, you're in for a treat.
the extraordinary performances by mary testa and penny fuller (eve in applause) are only two vital reasons you must have this cd. finn's score is gripping, emotional, tuneful, joyful and dramatic. the cd clearly shows the theater production from beginning to end. always surprising and lushly recorded, a new brain will become your new obsession....more info
- I AGREE- "A NEW DUD!"
I agree with David. This work is nothing special and lacks all the qualities of a great show. I don't agree with three stars however....it's not even deserving of that.
There was next to nothing enjoyable about this recording. The libretto is complete rubbish, and the score (although nice at times) is quite lack-luster.
The singing performances are good but it's not enough to bring about all this praise of a show that really isn't deserving of much.
I didn't laugh, I didn't cry, and I just didn't care...I didn't care about the lyrics, music, or the characters. There was nothing to draw me in to say "This is fantastic." Rather I was left board and can't seem to find anyone who wants this cd. Used places turn it down....because they have other copies.
You may like it, but it was a waste for me.
I also love how people who disagree with reviews site them as "not helpful." I always find the negative reviews much more helpful. As 99 percent of the reviews show here= if people like something they give it five stars. I didn't like this, so I gave it two...which it was deserving of.
In short- it's just taking up space....more info
- Phenomenal- my dream role...
This soundtrack is as touching as it is melodic and witty. I have found my new dream role- Gordon Schwinn. Watch for me when the Broadway revival comes around friends...just you watch....more info
- What about the music?
The lyrics are rich, although at times a tad forced (Finn has a tendency to sacrifice vernacular plausibility to a good rhyme).
But the music is alternately either random or hackneyed. All Finn does is take a wild kind of poetry and underlay it with music that helps it along.
I am baffled by other reviewers' testaments to Finn's "melodic gift". In fact, played simply as instrumentals, very few of Finn's songs here or elsewhere would hold up.
Finn is, in my mind, a poet. But you can't just do poetry on stage. So he also writes music to the poetry. If I may, I sense that the electricity that many find in his FALSETTOS trilogy is based in part on a gratitude at seeing homosexuality depicted with such nuance and verve in a prominent stage piece. Okay -- but I'm not gay, and thus I am just waiting for an experience. And I do not get one that elates me.
I hate to be a crab given how much so many reviewers love this CD. But I did not, and highly suspect many would feel similarly. The music is strictly functional; the lyrics are all over the place but without equally deft music I am bored....more info
- I'm having frog hallucinations!
I love this. Kristen Chenoweth is hilarious and great. Malcolm Gets is fabulous. William Finn (the compuser) is incredibly talented...more info
- Just plain wonderful.......
I was so familiar and fond of Falsettoland, that when I first put this on, I turned it right off, because the beginning songs have so many musical strains of F/Land. Well how dumb am I? For some reason, I gave it another try and now I'm in love with the CD and fabulous Finn. That one stanza from And They're Off (you all know which one I mean) is just perfect and I could listen to it constantly. I still need to spend a lot of time with this CD as there's so much there, but I highly recommend it....more info
- Saw the show, bought the CD
While in NY on business, I happened upon opening night of this wonderful show. Touching, hilarious, and full of great music, I loved it. Try it, you'll find some delightful tunes and profound thoughts....more info
- A new interesting sound...
Some very memorable tunes, beautifully performed. This is very well written music, with goofy lyrics. Fun stuff for an audition... Some numbers require some getting used to in order to listen to the CD without skipping through songs....more info
- Gotta drain the brain
I agree with the previous reviews that implied 'A New Brain' needs to grow on you. During my first listen, I didn't get it. But something about it nagged at me until I listened to it again and again and one day I realized I was singing along to 'I feel so much spring' in my car, and I was a fan. This CD has wonderful music ("Heart and Music" is an incredible anthem!) and brilliant performances from some of the greatest stage stars of today; Malcolm Gets, Norm Lewis ("SideShow" and the "Dreamgirls" concert CD), and the always-mind blowing Kristin Chenoweth (Check out the "Wicked" soundtrack for her best work ever!) I have grown to adore 'A New Brain' and can't wait until I get the chance to do it someday....more info
- A New Brain Is Wonderful
I wish i lived on the east coast so I could have gone to New York to see this inspiring show. This CD is full of wonderful melodies and "Heart and Music" is my favorite song ever. I recommend this CD to anyone who has any interest whatsoever in Broadway Musicals....more info
Listen to the humor and sheer love of life--and all its quirkiness--in this musical. You'll be amazed at the wisdom, the melody, the frankness about "relationships," and the performances, most notably Malcolm Gets, Penny Fuller, Chip Zien, and Norm Lewis (oh, that man can sing!). When Penny Fuller sings to her dying son that he should "fly with the man" who has asked him to sleep in his arms, it made at least this listener-who has lived for 20 years with his parent's vocal acceptance of his homosexuality-weep. And then there's "Sailing." What riches in this musical! I can't wait to see it performed, somewhere!...more info
- Moving, funny and engaging-- some of Finn's best work.
I didn't get to see this production, but now that I own the CD I wish I had. My girlfriend and I have been giving it a workout, playing certain tracks over and over again. Surprisingly melodic and tuneful-- my parents loved it-- with one or two knockout songs that are sure to be staples of cabaret performances and songbook albums. Great stuff....more info
- Fabulous! Extemely fun and moving
For all of those people who went to see Helen Hunt in that pathetic play of Shakespear's instead of seeing 'A New Brain', when you get this CD you'll feel pretty stupid! Some songs are simply fun while others are too beautiful for words! Great songs to lift your spirit if you're ever going through a tought time:-)...more info
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