Cape Rep's 'New Brain' A Zany Delight

By: Amy Tagliaferri

John Mooney, Garrett Almeida, Andrew Ford, Lindsey Erin Agnes in “A New Brain” at Cape Rep. BOB TUCKER/FOCALPOINT STUDIO PHOTO

Who will miss you when you’re gone? How will they react when you die? Family, friends, co-workers, and even the people on the street you see every day? Ever wonder that?

Gordon Michael Schwinn, songwriter for a children’s show starring a frog named Mr. Bungee, has a severe case of writer’s block and a brain disorder. Will he survive either? “A New Brain,” an imaginative and madcap musical/operetta by William Finn (music, lyrics and co-author of the book) and James Lapine (book co-author), takes Cape Rep audiences on a rollercoaster ride as they follow Gordon’s imagination/hallucinations of his near-death experience. Victoria Flores directs this wild show with manic energy as her talented cast sings and emotes their way through the crazy dialogue and lyrics. It’s zany fun!

Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride as this stellar cast takes the more than 30 songs to extremes. You’ll laugh, you‘ll get a little choked up and you’ll grin from ear to ear. There’s not a single weak link in the show, a Cape Rep trademark that they continually maintain. Jared Hagan (Gordon), Richard Jay Sullivan (Roger), Trish LaRose (a homeless lady), Jess Andra (Rhoda), Lindsey Erin Agnes (waitress, Nancy D), Andrew Ford (Mr. Bungee), Greg Kalafatas (Richard) Garrett Almeida (Dr. Jafar), John Mooney (The Minister) and Wendy Watson (Mimi Schwinn) are all just incredible.

You don’t want to miss a thing; Hagan’s powerful voice and poignant performance, or Sullivan’s brassy and pretentious portrayal of Gordon’s lover, and his tango! Agnes’ turn as a chatty waitress, and then as a flirtatious member of the surgical team is a treat. Andra as a ventriloquist’s dummy is spell-binding as is LaRose’s homeless lady in more than one number. It’s hard to take your eyes off LaRose. Ford’s way with webbed feet and hands, and his wild-eyed looks is a hoot. Watson blew us away with her solo, and the way Kalafatas strutted his stuff was hilarious. Almeida and Mooney were standouts in the many group numbers (“Heart and Music” and “And They’re Off” are two of those.) This mania all happens at a breakneck pace in about 90 minutes with no intermission.

Robert Wilder’s spot-on musical direction and piano playing, along with Mark Van Bork on drums, kept that pace, and sounded big and loud. Ryan McGettigan’s complex set of an operating room was ingenious and was aided by Phil Kong’s compelling lighting design. Carol Sherry is the force behind the costumes and Robin McLaughlin did the props (loved the books!). Unseen but integral to the show were production stage manager Kate Gulden and stage manager Allison Davis doing their jobs.

You’ll feel like you got a new brain after seeing this show. It’s fun, funny, enlightening, silly yet insightful. The opening night audience was on their feet!

DETAILS:

"A New Brain"

at Cape Rep Theatre

Through Oct. 15, Tuesday - Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.

Information and reservations: 508-896-1888, www.caperep.org