Talk about a sleeper. Throughout much of William Finn's A New Brain, our protagonista frustrated songwriter who is diagnosed with a rare, life-threatening brain disorderis, if not asleep, at least in a coma. But in the ebullient hands (and feet) of ten gifted Webster Conservatory students, this offbeat musical about high-risk brain surgery became a joyous ode to life. Under the collaborative guidance of director David Caldwell, choreographer Ellen Isom and musical director Neal Richardson, the production was fabulously imaginative and yet another reminder of the vigor of our local university theater. In addition to A New Brain, SLU's staging of The House of Bernarda Alba was constantly absorbing, and Wash. U. instilled the musical Violet with poignancy. Not only is the student work often outstanding, but ticket prices to college theater productions are among the cheapest in town, so you really do get more bang for your buck.
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