Theatre Nova and The Ringwald Theatre to Release Musical Comedy Film

The Ann Arbor and Ferndale performance groups have collaborated to release “A New Brain” on Broadway on Demand
A New Brain
A New Brain debuts on Broadway on Demand on June 5. // Show poster designed by Bob Hank

Starting next month, you can catch a performance presented by Ann Arbor’s Theatre Nova in collaboration with Ferndale’s The Ringwald Theatre without leaving home. The local groups filmed their take on A New Brain, a musical comedy that follows a composer named Gordon Schwinn as he experiences a medical emergency, and they’re now releasing it on Broadway On Demand.

Created by Tony Award-winning composer and lyricist William Finn and playwright James Lapine, the “unexpectedly funny” show gives a glimpse into the inner world of Schwinn — who is played by actor Richard Payton — as hospital staff try to uncover what’s wrong with his brain. Throughout A New Brain, the composer floats in and out of consciousness and contemplates his life, legacy, the meaning of music, and his relationships.

A New Brain was filmed this spring with considerable attention given to COVID-19 safety protocols. According to a press release, the cast, which was made up of nine performers, spent the month of March learning the show over Zoom with music director R. MacKenzie Lewis, who has worked on many National Tour and Off-Broadway productions and currently serves as the composer and music director for Eastern Music University’s School of Communication, Media, and Theatre Arts.

A New Brain
The cast of A New Brain — Jason Briggs (left), Steve DeBruyne, Alaina Kerr, Diane Hill, Richard Payton, Vince Kelley, Arielle Crosby, Liz Schultz, and Jamie Richards — filmed the show in 12 days. // Photograph by Jake B. Turner

Then in April, the cast and crew held socially distanced and masked in-person music rehearsals at Theatre Nova before eventually filming the show in 12 days. To allow for the fewest amount of people to be in the theater at a time, director Vince Kelley and cinematographer Jake Turner shot A New Brain one scene at a time and later stitched it together in post-production.

The musical comedy will be available to watch through Broadway On Demand on June 5 and 6, 12 and 13, and 19 and 20. Tickets are $25 per person and are available for purchase online. The show can be watched via computers, tablets, smartphones, or on TV using several different streaming apps and services.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit theatrenova.org.

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Emma Klug is a senior editor and digital content coordinator at Hour Detroit. In her role, Klug writes and edits stories on community, art, food, and lifestyle topics for hourdetroit.com, edits the Hour Daily newsletter, and is involved in planning and proofing the monthly print magazine. She also oversees the editorial web internship program for the magazine. A graduate of Columbia College Chicago, Klug has been with Hour Detroit since 2016. She has also contributed to Hour Media publications DBusiness magazine and Metro Detroit Weddings magazine. You can reach her at eklug@hour-media.com.