By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Written in sung-through pop-operatic form, A New Brain bounces with tunes that are pleasant but not memorable. Finn's lyrics run closer to doggerel than poetry. He rhymes "doozy" with "Cruise-y" and "Uzi." He picks the most obvious two-syllable rhyme for "Nantucket." And in a song about a horse race, Gordon's mother (Pam Peadon) and the nurses sing, "And they move in a herd/Like a four-letter word." What the heck does that mean?
In this production, directed by Regis Allison, every song ends up being belted full out like a showstopper. If only the cast of 10 good singers weren't outfitted with body mikes that amplify their voices to deafening levels. Their theater space is intimate enough to do their voices justice without the electronic boost.
The strength of this show is the Uptown cast. Fowler looks pretty, sings well and doesn't overact as Gordon. Kyle Douglas Miller, playing Gordon's lover Roger, makes the most of an underwritten part and has an easy touch with his big song, "I'd Rather Be Sailing." As the pushy mother, Peadon gives a torchy oomph to her ballad, "The Music Still Plays On," which sounds a little bit like Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns" from A Little Night Music.
If, like his namesake in A New Brain, composer Finn aspires to be the next Stephen Sondheim, he's not there yet, in words or music. Well, maybe next year.