BWW Feature: A NEW BRAIN by Apprentice Company Alumni at Aurora Theatre
Patrick Schweigert, an apprentice from Aurora's 2014-2015 season, received one of the coveted slots to make his directorial debut. After strategizing for almost a year on the perfect show, A NEW BRAIN was selected. The musical, written by William Finn and James Lapine, made its first debut in concert form at The Public Theatre (the Off-Broadway venue that was once home to "Hamilton"). In 1998, the show made its Off-Broadway debut which featured Kristin Chenoweth ("Wicked") and Malcolm Gets ("Grey Gardens").
The show tells the story of Gordon Schwinn, a songwriter for a children's show starring a Barney-like character named Mr. Bungee. Living with arteriovenous malformation (AVM), the protagonist uses his art to deal with the congenital disorder, even though he is having hallucinations and complications.
Patrick told me the reason for the show selection was that the music was just too extraordinary. He explained that it was this weird fusion of music and instruments and young talent, and that is what the audience should expect.
Patrick also noted that he cast the entire show, stating, "I think it is a really important thing that young artists get to discover their work. I think it is really important that Aurora is giving us these voices to be heard in such loud way!"
The cast includes Daniel Hilton (Gordon; piano), Rose Alexander (Rhoda), Caty Bergmark (Mimi Schwinn), Hayden Rowe (Roger Delli-Bovi; violin), Robert Hindsman (The Minister), Tad Cameron (Mr. Bungee), Ashley Prince (Dr. Berensteiner; piano), Jimmica Collins (Lisa the Homeless Lady), Elliott Folds (Richard; trombone), Laura Spears (Waitress/Nancy; trumpet), and Abi Sneathen (Female Swing/Ensemble; flute/piccolo).
Alongside Patrick on the artistic team is Nicole Clockel as the costume designer, Ben Rawson as the lighting designer, Sean Nguyen-Hilton as the choreographer and Elliott Folds as the dramaturg. As noted above, several cast members also play instruments throughout the course of the show.
A NEW BRAIN will appear at Aurora Theatre's studio space in downtown Lawrenceville. The show has a limited run with performances on June 23-24 at 8 p.m. and June 25 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets currently being sold online for $10 per seat. The Apprentice Company Alumni summer series is brought to thanks to the generosity of Stephen Michael Brown, Bob Brown, IFLYAJET, Inc. and Recurrent Pilot Training Center.