On Stage

BrainA New Brain

Now Extended Until August 16th!

A musical by William Finn and James Lapine
Directed by Brian Katz

"Apt and original . . . A fascinating story." - N. Y. Post.

"What goes through the mind of a composer suddenly facing capricious death in mid-career? Music, obviously. Beautiful, selfless, honest, playful, moving music. A New Brain isn't sentimental, but it is human; it doesn't preach, but it does take the 'Time and Music' to sing about life." -- Theatre Mirror

"Filled with beguiling, buoyant melody [and] witty and original lyrics . . . The kind of musical theatre invention we have come to expect from this gifted artist." - InTheatre.

By the Tony-award winning composer/lyricist of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Falsettos, here is an energetic, sardonic, often comical musical about a composer during a medical emergency. Gordon collapses into his lunch and awakes in the hospital surrounded by his maritime-enthusiast lover, his mother, a co-worker, the doctor and the nurses, and a certain frog named Mr. Bungie.

Gordon, we learn is very frustrated.  He spends his days writing songs for a children’s TV show that is “draining what is left of his talent”.  Just in time, death comes near to remind him that life is not about prizes and fame, but making the most of his “time and music”.
A New Brain is an uplifting, funny and adult musical about finding the light at the end of very dark tunnels and appreciating those who patiently greet us at the other end.

Production Photos

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Slavs
Richard Wenzel, Pat Christenson, Benjamin Pither, Rona Siddiqui, Cameron Weston, Lisa-Marie Newton
SlavsCameron Weston, Benjamin Pither
SlavsCameron Weston, Benjamin Pither, Lisa-Marie Newton
SlavsPat Christenson, Benjamin Pither
SlavsGiana DeGeiso, Leah Abrams, Charles Evans, Richard Wenzel, Cameron Weston, Pat Christenson, Lisa-Marie Newton
SlavsCharles Evans, Giana DeGeiso, Benjamin Pither, David Fierro, Cameron Weston, Lisa-Marie Newton
   


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Cast and Crew

Leah S. Abrams (Rhoda) is the executive director and co-founder of Custom Made.  Having just come from directing The Odd Couple, Leah is quite excited to be back onstage.  She has produced somewhere in the realm of thirty plays for Custom Made.  Favorite previous acting credits with the company include The Heidi Chronicles, The Old Neighborhood, Temptation, Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, and Lies and Legends: The Musical Stories of Harry Chapin.

Pat Christenson’s (Mimi) Bay Area theatre credits include Ruthless! The Musical, Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding (San Jose), Pipe Dream (42nd Street Moon), 42nd Street (American Musical Theatre of San Jose), The Female Odd Couple (Willows Theatre), Nunsense (Peninsula Civic Light Opera) and Nine (California Theatre Arts). In 1995, Pat was named the AMTSJ Outstanding Performer of the Year. Beyond the Bay, Pat has worked in summer stock, dinner theatre, children’s theatre, touring repertory and television.

Giana DeGeiso (Waitress/Nancy D.) is very excited to begin her San Francisco career with Custom Made Theatre in one of her favorite musicals.  Giana recently moved to San Francisco from Reno, Nevada where she has worked heavily in theatre since the age of eight.  Some of her favorite roles played were Shelly from Bat Boy the Musical, Lil in Last Summer at Bluefish Cove and Fraulein Kost from Cabaret.  Giana would like to thank her father for his support and knowledge and the burds for his love and patience.

Charles Evans (Doctor) is most happy to be back at Custom Made Theatre in such a great show as A New Brain, after playing the Proprietor here in Assassins last year. Other favorite roles: Herr Schmidt (Cabaret), Ismay (Titanic), Sipos (She Loves Me), Duke/ Carrasco (Man of La Mancha) and Dindon (La Cage aux Folles). Charles has appeared with many Bay Area theatre groups including Altarena, Masquers, CCMT, ACLO, DLOC and Ray of Light.

David Fierro (Richard) has trained at California State Summer School for the Arts, College of Marin, Shakespeare and Co., and the American Conservatory Theatre. He has previously worked with: Marin Shakespeare, Center REP, TheatreFIRST, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Thrillpeddlers, Impact Theatre, Golden Thread Productions, Custom Made Theatre Company, The Mountain Play, and Berkeley Rep where he understudied such shows as The Pillowman, Mother Courage, and Argonautika. Favorite recent roles include Oscar in The Odd Couple and Snug in A Midsummer Night's Dream. He has also been seen on television in The Love Connection (three times!) and You’re Not The Man I Married (Lifetime). David is a proud member of Theatre Bay Area and Actor's Equity.

Lisa-Marie Newton (Homeless Woman) is thrilled to be a part of A New Brain.  Bay Area highlights include All My Sons at the Mountain View Center, The Full Monty at City Lights, and Red Hot & Blue at 42nd Street Moon in addition to her solo show Befriending Shirley at the Climate Theatre.  On screen, Lisa-Marie can be seen in the indie feature Weekend King. She holds degrees from Eastman School of Music and the University of Arizona, and she currently studies acting with Richard Seyd and Bobby Weinapple. 

Benjamin Pither (Gordon) is delighted to return to CMTC having appeared in Woody Allen’s God and Death and Brecht’s The Exception and the Rule.  He recently starred in New Conservatory Theatre Center’s Based on a Totally True Story (BATCC award, Best Drama).  He also recently played Bobby Strong in Urinetown, the Musical at Altarena Playhouse and appeared in Wilde Boys at NCTC (BATCC award, Best Musical).  He has performed with 42nd Street Moon, Berkeley Repertory Theatre (understudy), Theatre Rhinoceros, Playwrights Center SF, and the Playwrights Foundation.  Benjamin earned his B.A. in Theatre Arts from Brandeis University with Highest Honors and studied at RADA in London.

Richard Wenzel (Mr. Bungee) is thrilled to be singing and hopping around on stage in A New Brain.  He has also appeared with 42nd St. Moon, most notably in Cole Porter’s The Cat In the Fiddle and has performed on and off in the local cabaret scene.  His favorite non-musical role to date is the lovelorn apparatchik, Popolitipov in Kushner’s Slavs.  He has also worked on stage withNew Conservatory, Center Rep, The Willows and ActiveArts Children’s Theatre and can be seen onscreen as an FBI Agent in Strange Culture.

Cameron Weston (Roger) is excited to be returning to Custom Made Theatre, after previously appearing as George W. Bush in Bye-Bye, bin Laden!  He most recently appeared as Charlie Davenport in Annie Get Your Gun at Broadway By The Bay.  Other favorite roles include Officer Lockstock in Urinetown with Palo Alto Players,Simon Hutton in What’s Wrong with Angry? and Joe Frisco in Dirty Blonde (both with the New Conservatory Theatre), Fredrik in A Little Night Music with Goat Hall and one of the many shoppers in Shopping! The Musical.  .  He’s also appeared in the History Channel program Man, Moment, Machine and is featured in the upcoming films Eye on You, Hell House, In Search of Lovecraft and Teachings of the Disgusting and Awful

Brian Katz (Director) is the Artistic Director and co-founder of the Custom Made Theatre Company. For Custom Made he has directed many productions including Slavs!, Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, Animal Farm,  Saint Joan of the Stockyards, and The Heidi Chronicles. Brian has worked at The Goodman Theatre, Berkeley Rep, CenterREP, Killing My Lobster and Cal Shakes in various capacities. His production of Bye-bye, bin Laden! was named a top premiere of 2004 by the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and his Assassins was awarded a top 10 Best Musical of 2007 by Talkin' Broadway. 

Rona Siddiqui  (Musical Director) is an award-winning composer and pianist who writes performs and teaches music in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received her BA in Music Composition from UCLA.  She has received numerous awards including international recognition from the International Association of Women in Music for her piece Storms and Whispers.  She has also written an original score to accompany Eve Ensler's acclaimed play the Vagina Monologues.  She spent six years as Musical Director for Stage Door Conservatory in Berkeley, a youth musical theatre intensive, producing such musicals as Bye Bye Birdie, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Fiddler on the Roof.

Katie Kimball (Choreographer) bio coming soon

Mari Ring (Set/Lighting Design) bio coming soon

Stephanie Pope (Costume Design) bio coming soon