A Tribute to the Dark Side (1993)

a world premiere revue featuring songs from Little Shop of Horrors, Grand Hotel, City of Angels, Guys and Dolls, Grease, Sweet Charity, Mack and Mabel, Chicago, Working, Show Boat, Dreamgirls, Company, Jesus Christ Superstar, Promises Promises, Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, and other shows
Conceived by Scott Miller
October 15-23, 1993
New City School Theatre, St. Louis

Beth Boschert-Duello, Kevin Collier, Michelle Collier, Tracy Collins, Rose Marie Fischer, Holly Gulick, Lisa Karpowicz, Tim Kent, Judy Kreisman, Mike Monsey, Keith Price, Dan Sattel, Johanna Schloss, Quenten Schumacher II, Darin Wood, and Paul Schankman as the Emcee

Directors – Scott Miller and Steve Kutheis
Music Director – Scott Miller
Technical Director and Lighting Designer – Steve Dohrmann
Costume Coordinator – Tim Kent
Stage Manager – Amy Lanning
Promotions Manager – Keith Price
Advertising Manager – Kevin Collier
Poster/Program Cover Design – Tracy Collins
Interior Program Design – Ron Crooks

Piano – Scott Miller
Keyboards – Chris Hegarty
Guitar/Bass – Kurt Eichholz

The history of the Dark Side in the musical theatre is a long one. Our survey tonight goes back as far as 1925's No! No! Nanette!, which was only dark in the most innocent way – supposed adultery that was (of course) just a misunderstanding. The first true musical tragedy was 1927's Show Boat, which presented real people in difficult real life situations – racism, marriage to an alcoholic and compulsive gambler, single parenting – but Show Boat turned out to be a fluke, and it wasn't until 1943's Oklahoma! that a new trend really began.

Then in the 1950s, director/choreographer Bob Fosse arrived, the Grand Master of Dark, and creator of many dark works, including Sweet Charity, Chicago, Pippin, and the movies Cabaret and All That Jazz. Never before or since has a director been so obsessed with the Dark Side. It became his trademark. And Stephen Sondheim, more concerned with constantly trying new things than with being consciously “dark,” forged a parallel path through the years with shows like West Side Story, Gypsy, Sweeney Todd, Company, Into the Woods, and Assassins. Many of his musicals explored society's ills – gang war, the disintegration of marriage, oppression of the working class, etc.

In 1968, amidst anti-war protests and demonstrations in Washington, Hair, the first rock musical, hit Broadway with all the anger, resentment, and disillusionment of the generation of which it was born. It was perhaps the angriest musical ever on Broadway, and its words and music heralded a new age – the age of the realistic and “relevant” musical, which in today's society also meant “Dark.” Soon, other rock musicals followed with equally unpleasant themes, including Pippin, The Rocky Horror Show, Dreamgirls, Little Shop of Horrors, and others.

In the late 1980s, the “Pop Opera” came into its own – stories told in the structure and epic proportions of grand opera and in the vocabulary of popular music, owing their genesis to the rock operas of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, including Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita. These shows, Les Misérables, Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, and others, with their tragic plots and characters, were the inevitable union of classical opera and the Broadway musical.

It has been fascinating for us during the creation of this show to see how different writers approach that side of us we try to suppress, some using comedy and others tragedy to explore that twilight zone of the human psyche where revenge is just and murder is justified. It gives us a deeper understanding of the human condition and of that uniquely American art form, musical theatre.

That said, we hope you enjoy Dark Side II, dedicated to everyone who loves the musical theatre and, more importantly, to those who think musicals are only silly love songs and sappy happy endings.

Note: If this is Dark Side 2, where’s Dark Side 1? The reason this is Dark Side 2 is that the first Tribute to the Dark Side was done by many of the same people with CenterStage Theatre Company several years earlier.


Before each performance began, we were to gradually filter onto the stage and sit at tables, cocktail-style, in the “nightclub,” and create characters who would chat realistically while the acts would go on. Tracy, Beth, and I were assigned to a table. At one of the first rehearsals, one of us – the memory escapes me as to which one – began a conversation about our fictional boss at the department store. The other two joined in, badmouthing this fictional boss. Throughout the rehearsal process and into performances, we kept these department store worker characters, and the improvised chatter grew more and more detailed until we not only knew our own characters, but we had assembled an outside life at this imaginary job which consisted of another twenty or so people with whom we worked. (Most of them were slackers, of course.) I admit there were times that our work stories became so involved and entertaining that we were slightly disappointed when the songs, the real focus of Dark Side II, began. During the show, the cast members all took turns performing songs and placing ourselves as the clientele in this nightclub. After one particular number, Quentin and I were dressed up and were to filter to the tables while Kevin sang “Wanting Things.” Each night during this song, Quentin and I created a background tableau. We'd notice each other, make brief eye contact, then make prolonged eye contact, then offer a smile. This little affair built throughout the song, with Quentin making suggestive winks and I dabbing the glow of perspiration from my throat. When the song ended, neither had made a move from our chairs, and I'd leave, with only a backward glance shared to tell what might have been.

– Johanna Schloss, cast member

I always felt really terrible for Michelle Collier when she had to choreograph me. I am the type of actor whose body refuses to cooperate with me when it comes to learning dance moves. This was no exception in Dark Side 2. Kevin, Keith, Tracy and I were to perform a Motown-esque song called “Steppin' to the Bad Side” from Dreamgirls. Kevin and Keith had rhythm and picked up on the moves pretty readily. Tracy and I, on the other hand, weren't so fortunate. I must say, however, “Steppin' to the Bad Side” turned out to be very cool and a big part of its success was due to the amount of time Michelle spent with us. I appreciate all she did and if you're reading this, Michelle, thank you for not letting me look like a complete idiot!

– Dan Sattel, cast member

Though it was unconscious on my part, I think this show kind of announced to the world what kind of company New Line was going to be, that we were going to be doing musical theatre about sex and drugs and death and every potentially offensive topic ever to headline a newspaper. I was determined to make “Big Spender” true to Bob Fosse’s original intentions, to be about carnality, not sexiness, to be lustful and hard and disturbing. I wanted people to sit up and listen, to pay attention like they didn’t usually pay attention when they went to a musical. I wanted to say to them, “musicals are not always what you think they are” and prove to them that musical theatre was just as substantial, just as serious, just as powerful, just as muscular as theatre that lacks music. This was just a few months before we would tackle Sondheim’s Assassins and change New Line and St. Louis musical theatre audiences forever.

--Scott Miller, director

A Tribute to Stephen Sondheim (1993)

a world premiere revue featuring songs from West Side Story, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Evening Primrose, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, The Frogs, Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along, Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George, and Assassins
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Conceived and Researched by Scott Miller
March 19-27, 1993
Center of Contemporary Arts, St. Louis

Winona Black, Beth Boschert-Duello, Kevin Collier, Michelle Collier, Tracy Collins, Rose Marie Fischer, Alison Goldstein, Joel Hackbarth, Tim Kent, Steve Kutheis, Tracy Paul Muchesko, Keith Price, John T. Ricroft, Jeremy Sher, Renée Trudell

Director – Scott Miller
Assistant Director – Dan Guller
Additional Staging – Tim Kent
Production Consultant – Sara Lee Hart
Instrumental Music Director – Kurt Eichholz
Set Designer – John T. Ricroft
Lighting Designer – Steve Dohrmann
Costumer Coordinator – Tim Kent
Stage Manager – Amy Lanning
Business Manager – Holli Folk

Piano – Scott Miller
Keyboards – Chris Hegarty
Bass – Kurt Eichholz
Percussion – Adam Kopff

“Of all the artists who have tried to transform the Broadway musical since Oklahoma!, no one has been more persistent than the composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim.” (Frank Rich, New York Times). Few of his shows have been hits. Many have been controversial in one way or another. All of them have been interesting.

It's difficult to put together a sampling of his work for two reasons. First, there's an almost endless supply of interesting material to choose from. Second, it's hard to take his songs out of their original contexts. To merely sing his songs makes it hard to see how masterfully he weaves characterization and plot throughout his songs. For instance, “Send in the Clowns” is a beautiful song, in or out of its show. But when you know the singer is a fading actress, the show business metaphors take on new meaning. When you know the man she's singing to once wanted to marry her, but she wasn't ready, it's even more ironic that now when she's finally ready, he's found someone else. When you know the background, it hurts more when she sings:
Just when I'd stopped opening doors,
Finally knowing the one that I wanted was yours,
Making my entrance again with my usual flair,
Sure of my lines, no one is there.
“Pretty Women” becomes more than just a pretty song when you know that Sweeney Todd is shaving the corrupt Judge Turpin, waiting for the perfect moment to slit his throat. “It's Hot Up Here” is so much funnier when you know the singers are figures in a painting, doomed to spend all eternity in the same pose in the same spot with the same people. “I Remember” becomes much more touching when you know the girl singing it has lived her life in a department store, and can only barely remember the last time she saw the sky.

We realized as we rehearsed the show that we would be demanding a lot from our audiences with this material, that they wouldn't be able to just sit back and listen. These songs demand as much from the audience as from the performers. Sondheim proves with every project that the musical theatre doesn't have to be a place where you turn off your brain; it can be a place for high drama, dark comedy, social commentary, and thoughtful looks at the human condition.

With this tribute, we present songs that are more truly musical scenes. And so that you can experience the full power of these moments, we present them as they were written to be performed. Stephen Sondheim is a great composer and lyricist, but he is also a great innovator and a great maker of theatre. His work deserves no less.

So prepare yourself for a tour of some of the most important work in the musical theatre in the last thirty-five years, from 1957 and West Side Story through 1991 and the controversial Assassins. As Sondheim wrote for Gypsy: Curtain up, light the lights, We've got nothing to hit but the heights.


I remember auditioning for New Line’s Tribute to Sondheim back in 1993. I was nervous, and Scott was accompanying me on “Maria” from West Side Story. I can’t remember who else was in there, but I kept thinking to myself, “You’re an actor, not a singer, dummy, what are you doing this fo—” and that was my cue. What did I know? I’d listened to the music and practiced it a hundred times, but I had no idea what they were expecting. I don’t know what I was thinking, but the first million and a half bars of the song were, as I remembered them from recordings, echoey and somewhat off in the distance, like voices floating around. “The most beautiful sound I ever heard…Maria (Maria, Maria, Maria...).” I thought, “Well, that part of the song must come from someone else, so I’ll just breeze past that part in the audition and get to the good stuff.” I mumbled those words, on key, mind you, but I mumbled them nonetheless. I thought Scott would just say OK and jump to the good stuff, but NO, he stayed true to the music, so I mumbled on, until he asked me what I was doing. Uh, singing the song, dummy, I wanted to say. But that would’ve hurt my chances, so I just started singing the lyrics the way they were intended to be sung. I got a part (not that part), and took the graciousness and gentleness of those auditioners with me on the next million and a half auditions, and I remember them all.

– Jeremy Sher

Stephen Sondheim was becoming an important part of New Line Theatre at this time. A few months before this Tribute, we’d held a celebrity auction and received autographed items from Julie Andrews, Jerry Herman, Hal Prince, Gwen Verdon, Elaine Strich, Raul Julia, Jim Lapine, Harnick and Bock, Kander and Ebb, Marvin Hamlisch, and many other Broadway stars. Stephen Sondheim sent us an autographed copy of the private, never released cast album (on LP) of his 1966 television musical Evening Primrose. And I was presumptuous enough, when I wrote to thank him, to also ask him for a cash donation. He sent one. I then thanked him for that and asked if he would be an honorary member of our board. He wrote back and said he would be delighted. Doing this concert of his songs was very special for me because of how incredibly kind he had been to this new, small company way out in St. Louis. And it became a kind of prologue to New Line’s first ten years, as we would go on to produce his shows Assassins (twice), Company, Sweeney Todd, Passion, Into the Woods, Anyone Can Whistle, and another Sondheim concert, Extreme Sondheim. In addition, when we put Out on Broadway together several years later, about a third of the show was Sondheim’s songs. He has had more of an impact on New Line than any other theatre artist, and we couldn’t be prouder to count him among our supporters.

– Scott Miller, director