“The Bad Boy of Musical Theatre” has turned 25. New Line Theatre is celebrating its silver season with a fresh slate of signature politically and socially provocative musicals in the intimate setting of its new black-box theater, The Marcelle, in Grand Center. Founder and artistic director Scott Miller took LN behind the scenes of the dramatic new season – and the edgy troupe’s last 25 years of intelligent, alternative and daring musical theater.
How has New Line grown through the years?
We’ve gone from one weekend of performances to four, and we now have quite a stable of regular actors. We’ve also grown artistically – not only are more new musicals being written now than ever before that fit our mission, but because of the kind of work we do, we attract exceptional artists to work with us.
Share some of the show highlights.
The coolest thing we do is rescue shows that were New York “flops” and prove how extraordinary they are, simply by trusting and respecting what the writers wrote. We’re in the middle of a new golden age for our art form, and many in New York commercial theater don’t yet understand how these new musicals work. Because of our “rescue,” shows like “High Fidelity,” “Cry-Baby,” “Hands on a Hardbody” and “Bonnie & Clyde” now have an active new life in regional theaters across the country. We hope the same will happen this season with “Atomic,” a thought-provoking adult musical that ran only a month off Broadway.
Describe your upcoming shows.
“American Idiot” (March 3 to March 26 ) follows three 20-somethings’ search for meaning and authenticity in a post-9/11 world. “Atomic” (June 2 to June 25), is about the Manhattan Project, the scientists who created the bomb and the moral dilemmas that invention created. “Tell Me on a Sunday” (Aug. 11 to Aug. 27) is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s intimate musical about a young British woman’s disastrous relationships and life lessons in New York and L.A.
What’s in store for your special anniversary event, 25 to Life! An Evening of New Line Theatre, Jan. 5 and 6 at Sheldon Concert Hall?
It will feature 16 New Line All-Stars, and songs from the first 25 years and 75 shows, including “Next to Normal,” “Bat Boy,” “Reefer Madness,” “Bonnie & Clyde,” “The Rocky Horror Show,” “Cry-Baby,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” “Into the Woods” and “The Fantasticks.”
What makes the New Line show experience unique?
New Line produces shows that most companies won’t touch, and we often snag the rights to the first production in the country after a show’s Broadway run. Also, we always work in intimate theaters – our new theater seats 120 to 150, depending on how big our set is. New Line musicals are more intense, more high-energy and more emotional than you’ll see anywhere else. And contrary to other approaches to musicals, nothing matters more to us than great storytelling. At a New Line show, you always know you’ll get an adventure.
The Marcelle, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, Grand Center, 314-534-1111, newlinetheatre.com