October 20, 2015

It’s finally here: a musical made for brainiacs! “Futurity,” an odd and often beguiling show written by César Alvarez with his band the Lisps, could send science geeks into the kind of swoon that befalls more traditional musical theater lovers at a great production of, oh, anything by Stephen Sondheim. History buffs might want to take a look, too, since the show is set during the tumultuous late days of the Civil War, and features as one of its two principal characters an actual historical figure, Ada Lovelace, the pioneering British mathematician whose writings were among the first to prefigure the creation of computers. And despite its period setting, this frisky furrowed brow of a musical asks questions about artificial intelligence and its uses that are driving science today, such as whether computers can ever develop an “imagination” similar to man’s, and how exactly the mysteries of the human brain might be untangled. Random lyric sample, from the musings of Ada, who is portrayed with poise and lively intelligence by Sammy Tunis: “What’s the animating force from which intelligence emerges/ Is it material in nature or a spiritual convergence/ Are the particles inside the brain the meaning or the medium of life.”