A New Brain | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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In this glorious small-scale show, La Costa Theatre Company exhibits the same energy and classy confidence it brought to The Last Five Years earlier this year. A New Brain--William Finn and James Lapine's 1998 musical about Finn facing brain surgery--employs 34 songs in 90 minutes to chronicle fears of mortality and doubts about art. Directors Greg Malen and Betsy Hansfield put a flawless cast through all the right moves and notes. Though Jonathan Hymen and Riley Thomas are too young to play midlife lovers struggling with a near-death experience, they've clearly grown into their parts. And the musical direction, by Thomas and Erika Brett Holleb, is so good it's scary. Through 8/27: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 4 PM, A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells, 866-468-3401, $15-$25.

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