ST. LOUIS, MO . . . New Line Theatre, “the bad boy of musical theatre,” announces its 26th season of adult, alternative musical theatre, including the world premiere of a new revised version of the wild, 1969 adult jazz-rock musical CELEBRATION, by the creators of The Fantasticks, running Sept. 29-Oct. 22, 2016; followed by Kander & Ebb’s rarely produced gem ZORBA, running March 2-25, 2017; then the regional premiere of the pitch-black 2002 jazz-rock musical THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, based on the famous novel and film, running June 1-24, 2017; and the world premiere of the third installment of New Line’s own creation, the new revue OUT ON BROADWAY: THE THIRD COMING, running August 3-19, 2017. All New Line’s mainstage shows will be in the company’s new home, the Marcelle Theater, the new blackbox theatre in Grand Center, St. Louis’ arts district.
The rock opera LIZZIE, originally announced for August 2017, has been moved and will now open the following season in October 2017, starring Anna Skidis Vargas, Kimi Short, Marcy Wiegert, and Larissa White, directed by Mike Dowdy.
Tom Jones, bookwriter-lyricist for Celebration, plans to visit St. Louis to see New Line’s production in October.
Also, New Line has begun a new partnership with the Webster University Department of Music. Jeffrey Carter, chair of the department and resident music director for New Line, says, “We are delighted to partner with New Line Theatre for the hands-on portion of our new Bachelor of Music in Music Direction for Musical Theatre degree. Scott Miller’s process of developing a show is truly collaborative and honest, and our students will play a significant part in a show’s sound and musical language.” Each student in the new program is required to assistant music direct one show in the sophomore year, one in the junior year, and one in the senior year, all prior to being the musical director for a show at Webster or with a partner theatre organization.
New Line opens its 26th season with CELEBRATION, written by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt (The Fantasticks, I Do! I Do!, 110 in the Shade), a wild, adult fable set on New Year’s Eve, centered on Orphan, an idealistic and cheerfully optimistic young man, who reminds the wealthy and jaded old man William Rosebud Rich of his younger self; Angel, a sweet but not so angelic erotic dancer who longs to be Somebody; and the cynical Potemkin, who serves as narrator, commentator, and advisor. At the story’s core is the primal, comic struggle between youth and old age, innocence and corruption, love and ambition, poverty and wealth, as Angel tries to decide if she would be better served by her feelings for Orphan or Rich’s willingness to fulfill all her dreams.
Back in 1968, with the profits from their hits The Fantasticks and I Do! I Do!, composer Harvey Schmidt and lyricist/bookwriter Tom Jones opened the Portfolio Studio in New York, where they could experiment with the modern musical as an art form, away from the economic pressures of Broadway and off Broadway. Their first experiment there was a ritual-based musical called Celebration, reportedly based on an ancient Sumerian ritual play (no kidding), with a villain apparently based on the widely despised Broadway producer David Merrick. The team had been working on the show, off and on, since The Fantasticks had opened in 1960, but kept putting it aside for other projects. It was first called Ratfink, then The Bone Room. Full of masks and symbolic props, it was inspired by legendary director Peter Brook’s work in England, combining ritual or “holy” theatre with street theatre and populist theatre.
CELEBRATION opened on Broadway in January 1969, and Clive Barnes wrote in the New York Times, “Once upon a time – for this is a fable – a man called Tom Jones and a man called Harvey Schmidt sat down and pondered. They pondered and they pondered. They pondered on what was wrong with the Broadway musical, and they decided (at least this would be my guess) that it lacked simplicity, magic and uplift. Last night the curtain rose on their Celebration, which might be thought of as unpretentiously pretentious fairy tale for adults.”
The cast of New Line’s CELEBRATION includes Kent Coffel as Potemkin, Zachary Allen Farmer as Rich, Sean Michael as Orphan, Larissa White as Angel, with Reynaldo Arceno, Colin Dowd, Christopher Lee, Todd Micali, Nellie Mitchell, Michelle Sauer, and Kimi Short. The show will be directed by Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy, with music direction by Kyle Aucoin, scenic design by Rob Lippert, costume design by Sarah Porter, sound design by Benjamin Rosemann, and lighting design by Kenneth Zinkl.
Celebration contains adult language and content, and some partial nudity.
New Line continues its 26th season with a rarely produced gem from the legendary team of John Kander and Fred Ebb, who have brought us Cabaret, Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman (all of which New Line has produced), The Scottsboro Boys, The Visit, Woman of the Year, The Act, etc., and from bookwriter Joseph Stein (Fiddler on the Roof, The Baker’s Wife, Rags). ZORBA is a rowdy, high-energy musical, based on the famous 1946 novel Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis, its 1964 film version, and letters that Kander and Ebb found from the real-life Zorba. Originally conceived and directed in 1968 by the legendary Harold Prince, the story opens in a bouzouki parlor in Greece where a group has gathered to tell stories. They introduce us to Zorba, his philosophy of living life to the fullest, and a very dramatic, emotional, tragic, but life affirming encounter with a young man and with love.
Clive Barnes wrote about the show in the New York Times, “From beginning to end this is a musical with exquisite style and finesse. Director Hall Prince calculates his efforts like a Mozart. Prince has learned the principle of the musical as a gesamtumskwerk, the Wagnerian ideal of theatrical unity where every part plays its role in the whole.” John Chapman wrote in the Daily News, “Zorba is magnificent – a great work of musical theatre.” The show was nominated for eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and was nominated for a New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical.
The cast of New Line’s ZORBA includes Kent Coffel as Zorba, Dominic Windsor as Nikos, Margeau Steinau as Madame Hortense, Lindsey Jones as the Leader, Ann Hier as the Widow, with Mara Bollini, Colin Dowd, Evan Fornachon, Omega Jones, William Pendergast, Sarah Porter, Kimi Short, and Sara Rae Womack. The show will be directed by Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy, with scenic and lighting design by Rob Lippert, costume design by Sarah Porter, and sound design by Benjamin Rosemann.
Zorba contains adult content.
THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS
New Line continues its season with the local premiere of the fiery 2002 jazz-rock musical THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, by composer Marvin Hamlisch (his last theatre score), lyricist Craig Carnelia, and playwright John Guare, based on the famous novel and film, telling the dark story of the powerful, syndicated newspaper gossip columnist J.J. Hunsecker (based on famed New York columnist Walter Winchell) who uses his considerable power and connections to ruin his sister’s relationship with a man he finds inappropriate.
It’s New York, 1952. Welcome to Broadway, the glamour and power capital of the universe. J.J. Hunsecker rules it all with his daily gossip column in the New York Globe, syndicated to sixty million readers across America. J.J. has the goods on everyone, from the President to the latest starlet. And everyone feeds J.J. appetite for scandal, from J. Edgar Hoover and Senator Joe McCarthy down to a battalion of hungry press agents who attach their gossip to a client that J.J. might plug. When down-and-out press agent Sidney Falco tries to hitch his wagon to J.J. all while keeping secrets about his new client’s relationship with J.J.’s sister, he learns that you can become no one fast if J.J. turns on you. The show was nominated for seven Tonys, including Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Score, and eleven Drama Desk Awards.
The cast of New Line’s SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS includes Zachary Allen Farmer as J.J. Hunsecker, Matt Pentecost as Sidney, Ann Hier as Susan, Sean Michael as Dallas, Sarah Porter as Rita, Kimi Short as Madge, with Mara Bollini, Kent Coffel, Chris Kernan, Michelle Sauer, Luke Steingruby, Nick Windsor, and Sara Rae Womack. The show will be directed by Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy, with music direction by Jeffrey Richard Carter, scenic and lighting design by Rob Lippert, costume design by Sarah Porter, and sound design by Benjamin Rosemann.
The Sweet Smell of Success contains adult language and content.
OUT ON BROADWAY: THE THIRD COMING
New Line closes its 26th season with the third installment of a New Line classic, OUT ON BROADWAY, an original revue of musical theatre songs performed from the perspective of five gay men. Some songs will be brought back from the earlier shows, and we’ll add new songs as well.
The first OUT ON BROADWAY opened in March 1996, sold out every show, and was brought back in August of that year, again selling out the run. Reviewer Mike Isaacson wrote in The Riverfront Times, “United in song and spirit, the cast and audience celebrate the fusion of a Broadway past into the home for a community’s political future.” We recorded an original cast album a few years later (available on Amazon). OUT ON BROADWAY 2000 (affectionately known as OOB2K) opened in March 2000 for yet another sold-out run. This will be the third installment in the series, an intimate evening of funny and emotional performances, with just five gay men, a piano, and no microphones.
The cast of New Line’s OUT ON BROADWAY: THE THIRD COMING includes Ken Haller, Omega Jones, Sean Michael, Keith Thompson, and Dominic Windsor. The show will be directed by Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy, with scenic and lighting design by Rob Lippert, costume design by Sarah Porter, and sound design by Benjamin Rosemann.
Out on Broadway contains adult language and content.
New Line will also continue its TALK-BACKS for each show, onstage on the last Tuesday night before each show closes. Details will be on the website. All the talk-backs are also posted to YouTube.
For each show, the New Liners also blog about our creative process, taking you behind the scenes of every New Line production, from first rehearsal to closing night. Details are on the website.
All mainstage shows run Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, at 8:00 p.m., at the new Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, just three blocks east of Grand, in Grand Center. (See our website for directions.) The first Thursday of each run is a preview. Tickets for mainstage shows are $25 for adults and $20 for students/seniors on Fridays and Saturdays; and $20 for adults and $15 for students/seniors on Thursdays.
For other information, visit New Line Theatre’s full-service website at www.newlinetheatre.com. All programs are subject to change.
ABOUT NEW LINE THEATRE
New Line Theatre is a professional company dedicated to involving the people of the St. Louis region in the exploration and creation of daring, provocative, socially and politically relevant works of musical theatre. New Line was created back in 1991 at the vanguard of a new wave of nonprofit musical theatre just starting to take hold across the country. New Line has given birth to several world premiere musicals over the years and has brought back to life several shows that were not well served by their original New York productions. Altogether, New Line has produced 77 musicals since 1991, and the company has been given its own entry in the Cambridge Guide to American Theatre and the annual Theater World. New Line receives funding from the Regional Arts Commission and the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.
New Line’s current season closes August 11-27 with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s one-act, one-woman musical Tell Me on a Sunday, starring Sarah Porter, directed by Mike Dowdy. For more information, visit www.newlinetheatre.com.