It isn't every day a cut song gets to come home to its original score.
When William Finn began work on A New Brain after leaving the hospital following a harrowing brush with arteriovenous malformation, he wrote a number of songs that did not survive the cutting process on the journey to its 1998 Off-Broadway debut. One of these songs, "Anytime," remained hidden until the new millennia, where it became beloved by many musical theatre lovers when Norm Lewis introduced it in Infinite Joy, prior to Carolee Carmello memorably folding it into 2003’s Elegies.
Nearly 25 years later, "Anytime" is returning to A New Brain at Barrington Stage Company. Performed by Darrell Purcell, Jr. as Roger, the tender song elaborates on the depth of devotion between protagonist Gordon and his boyfriend Roger.
“‘Anytime’ is one of Bill Finn's most beautiful songs," says director Joe Calarco. "It was rehearsed for the Lincoln Center Theater production in 1998 but was cut before the show went into performances. I asked Bill and James Lapine if we could reinstate it, and they generously said yes. Besides its beauty, the song allows us to see the full range of Gordon and Roger's relationship and their deep love for and commitment to each other.”
This revival of A New Brain, which begins performances August 16, also brings another element of the original Off-Broadway production back to the fore: three-time Tony nominee Mary Testa, who will play Gordon's mother, Mimi. Testa created the role of Lisa in the 1998 world premiere Off-Broadway production at Lincoln Center Theater. That character's song, "Change," has since become one of Testa's signature tunes.
Joining Testa and Purcell, Jr. will be Adam Chanler-Berat (Next to Normal, Peter and the Starcatcher) as Gordon, Tally Sessions (Company) as The Doctor, Demond Green (Sister Act) as The Minister, Dorcas Leung (Miss Saigon) as Rhoda, Andy Grotelueschen (Tootsie) as Mr. Bungee, Salome B. Smith (1776) as Lisa, Justine Horihata Rappaport (Cinderella) as Nancy, and Eliseo Román (On Your Feet) as Richard.
A New Brain features a score by Finn and a book co-written by Finn and James Lapine. The semi-autobiographical story follows an aspiring Broadway songwriter whose life is thrown into chaos by a medical emergency. The work was the 1999 Outer Critics Circle Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical winner for its original production. A second NYC staging was mounted via New York City Center's Encores! Off-Center series in 2015.
Barrington's production is directed by Calarco, with music direction by Vadim Feichtner, choreography by Chloe O. Davis, scenic design by Paige Hathaway, costume design by Debra Kim Sivigny, lighting design by Jason Lyons, and sound design by Ken Travis. John Godbout is production stage manager, with Leslie Sears serving as assistant stage manager. Casting is by McCorkle Casting's Pat McCorkle and Rebecca Weiss.