Floyd Collins (1999)

Music and Lyrics by Adam Guettel
Book and Additional Lyrics by Tina Landau
November 4-20, 1999
St. Marcus Theatre, St. Louis

Floyd Collins – Troy Schnider
Homer Collins – Eric Whitman
Nellie Collins – Kimi Short
Lee Collins – Steven R. Johnson
Jane Collins – Mary “Mo” Monahan
William “Skeets” Miller – Dan Sattel
Bee Doyle – Karl Berberich
Ed Bishop – Michael Deak
Jewel Estes – Colin DeVaughan
H.T. Carmichael – Patrick Kerwin
Cliff Roney/Reporter – Chris Brenner
Dr. Hazlett/Reporter – Keith Hale
Reporter – John Rhine

Directors – Scott Miler and Alison Helmer
Assistant Director – Kevin Corlett
Lighting Designer – Mark Schilling
Costume Designer – Elizabeth Krausnick
Set Designer and Scene Painter – Karl Berberich
Set Construction Assistant – Adam Lewis
Stage Manager – Amy Francis Schott
Sound Technician – Chris Clark
Box Office Manager – Steve Dohrmann
Graphic Designer – Tracy Collins

Piano – Neal Richardson
Violin – Bill Bauer
Guitar/Banjo – Kathy Schottel
Percussion – Adam Kopff

“New Line Theatre . . . continues the hot streak that began last season with Camelot and Into the Woods. Scott Miller's productions always are small in scale, but the imaginative scope of these recent shows has impressive depth. . . It offers perspective instead of self-indulgence, imagination instead of ego. It's a compelling musical and one that is well-suited to the New Line Theatre's stripped-down style.” – Judith Newmark, St. Louis-Post Dispatch

“Adam Guettel, the composer and lyricist, and Tina Landau have turned this dark, sad tale into a remarkable piece of musical theater that, although hardly flawless, is consistently interesting both in its music and in the way the story is told. . . New Line Theatre has fielded a strong cast whose vocal abilities are generally matches for Guettel's often demanding music. . . and what a pleasure it was to hear natural, unamplified voices.” – Harry Weber, The Riverfront Times

“Scott Miller's New Line Theatre company, in the small cave of the St. Marcus Theatre, is shouting out a beautiful exploratory cave call: they have been delving into the subterranean recesses of musical theatre for some years, and now they've opened a fine production that epitomizes their own search. . . The cast abounds with strong performances.” – Steve Callahan, KDHX-FM

Raucous comedy. Great tenderness. Muscular, powerful music. Simple folk ballads. Family, faith, metaphysics. It's all there in Floyd Collins, one of the most spectacular first efforts in the history of musical theatre.

The critics have gone wild over this show. New York's Newsday called it “one of the three or four truly great music theatre scores of the last decade.” Entertainment Weekly said, “The melodies soar... In Adam Guettel a vital new musical theatre writer has emerged.” New York Magazine said, “This is the original and daring musical of our day.., a powerhouse.” Variety said it was “easy to admire.., sometimes ravishing.” The San Diego Union Tribune called it “a daring and original piece of musical theater.” The Los Angeles Times called it “plaintive, often inspired...Adam Guettel is a composer for the new century.”

With Floyd Collins, composer-lyricist Adam Guettel (rhymes with kettle) has clearly established himself as the most likely candidate to lead the next generation into the musical theatre terrain that Stephen Sondheim has explored for the last forty years. Floyd Collins is a musical full of a complexity and sophistication worthy of Sondheim, yet also full of the emotional force that this story demands; because, though it is a story about media exploitation, greed, glory, and prejudice, at its core, it is even more about family and faith. It is one of those musicals, like West Side Story, Company, and Ragtime, which could only have been written by Americans. There is a brashness, an openness, and a muscularity in Floyd Collins that is uniquely American.

Guettel and his bookwriter Tina Landau have tackled a most unlikely subject for a musical. Most of the story takes place after Floyd has been trapped a hundred feet underground. How do you make a musical about a character who can't move? The answer is twofold. First, they realized the most compelling story here is an internal one; the almost supernatural connection between Floyd and Nellie, the powerful brotherly bond between Floyd and Homer, Floyd's indomitably American spirit, and his blind optimism in the face of incredible obstacles. Second, Guettel separated the two worlds – above ground and underground – by giving them each their own sound. Above ground, the music is an only slightly altered bluegrass Kentucky folk sound; rollicking, simple, honest. Below the surface is Floyd's world, and it has its own music. Here is where Guettel uses the sophisticated, complex sounds that owe something to the work of Stephen Sondheim; full of soaring, gorgeous melodies; unusual, quirky rhythms; and fascinating, interconnected musical themes that weave together to create a beautiful musical tapestry.

Guettel and Landau have written a musical about a real American hero, still today considered the greatest cave explorer in American history. And they've done it with such care and such skill that it ends up being one of the greatest musicals you'll ever see. We just hope we've done this magnificent work justice.

Several years after college I found myself far from the theatre, doing graphic design in a retail music store, when one of my coworkers, a former university music instructor, got a call from a local theatre company desperate to replace the lead in an upcoming production of Brigadoon. Aware of my background, he gave them my name; two weeks later I was performing my first role since college. That was the spark. Three more lead roles built my confidence enough that I sought out professional theatre companies, not for the money, but for the challenge. I was tired of being a big fish in a little pond, but the old fears returned. Was I good enough? I had to give it a shot, and another local actor suggested New Line Theatre. I knew nothing about them, but I trusted him and soon learned they were about to hold auditions for Floyd Collins. In my wildest dreams I never imagined a St. Louis company would take on a show this personal and this excruciatingly difficult. I clearly remember my only request on the audition form: “I just want to sing.” They cast me as Floyd, and, along with music director Neal Richardson, pushed me harder and farther than I ever dreamed. To this day I’m still shocked they had the guts to take on a show like this, but you have to realize New Line does it time and again over and over. Scott simply does what inspires him. It’s truly remarkable. The fact that he’s willing to cast someone he’s never seen before, and has the wherewithal to pull it off, astounds me. So, do I have what it takes? Who knows, that’s for others to decide, but I’ll never stop seeking out challenges and working hard. I have New Line Theatre to thank for this outlook, and Floyd Collins and many future productions to look forward to because of it.
– Troy Schnider, “Floyd Collins”

For me, the most wonderful moment of doing this show was standing backstage late in the second act while Floyd sings his last song and realizes he's going to die in the cave. For me, that was the emotional high point. When Troy would sing the line: “Will my mama be there waiting for me?” I would get shivers and have a huge lump in my throat the whole time I was saying my closing monologue. Floyd Collins was far and away the most touching show I've ever experienced. I will always cherish the memory.
– Dan Sattel, “Skeets Miller”

During the rehearsal process for Floyd Collins, Scott did a tremendous amount of research about this true story. In fact, Scott, Alison, Troy, and Amy traveled to Kentucky and saw the actual area where the show is set. They even brought back pictures and souvenirs of their trek to Floyd country. All of this reminded the cast that our characters were real people, and we got to know them a little better. But the biggest reminder happened on opening night. A group of actual cavers attended and sat in the front row with their cave helmets on. We thought that was kind of a strange thing to do and were poking fun at them backstage. During intermission, Scott talked to these folks and found out how much of a folk hero Floyd Collins is to cavers everywhere, even seventy-five years after his death. In a sense, it was like having friends of Floyd in the audience. That was pretty cool. Oh yeah, the cavers liked the show.
– Steve Johnson, “Lee Collins”

I never want to yodel again in my life. I don't think Scott would ever be happy with music that was simple and easy. And because of this, I don't think his performers would either. I have wanted to try other theater groups, but I don't. I keep thinking, “But they won't be like New Line’s shows.” I believe in what Scott does and the education in theater that he has given me. Also [I’m thankful] for the wonderful opportunities for personal growth and growth as a performer. I can never be grateful enough for all the true friendships I have made through New Line. I am proud to say that I am a part of New Line and will always be. Thank you Scott Miller.
– Chris Brenner, “Cliff Roney, Yodeler”

It was in the fall of 1999. Floyd was upon us and I took the job as set designer. I tried different ideas. In a small theatre like St. Marcus, there isn't much room for anything extensive. So I had to wing it. I needed this unit set to be a cave, a forest, a gathering area. I knew it would get done. I just couldn't calculate how well. I was in a bit of a panic. I needed to catch a vacation. I needed to really focus. I took a trip to Springfield. I knew how the set would be built, but the detail was crucial. That first night in Springfield was to be the time of clarity. I lay on my back on my friend’s floor (a bit sauced), watching a candle flicker light on the ceiling. I felt something on my side. I look down to my chest, and in the little light that was in the room, I noticed two long antennae sweeping the air. I froze. “I hate cockroaches,” I thought. All the lights go on and my friend is grabbing a shoe to kill this bug. In a flash, I realized what was on me... a cricket! I shouted, “No! Don’t kill it!” Floyd talked to crickets! It jumped off of me and disappeared into the house. In the instant I saw that cricket, I saw the detail of the set. In my head it was complete (crazy, huh?). That was a great spiritual moment for me. I believe in many Eastern beliefs and one belief is that crickets are fortune tellers, prognosticators. I had a moment of connection with something else, somewhere else. And the energy used me to create the right set. It turned out to be one of my favorite works of art to date. (Thank you, Mark, for the perfect lighting.) Floyd and my time doing that show really helped me deal with problems I had been struggling with, [helped me] shine in the face of adversity.
– Karl Berberich, set designer, “Bee Doyle”

During rehearsals for Floyd Collins, Troy, Alison, and I drove to Kentucky to see Floyd’s cave. The lady at the Floyd Collins Museum told us where the cave was in which Floyd had been trapped. We drove down the road and found a small sign by the side that said “Sand Cave.” There were no arrows, no map, no directions. We started down the dirt path, and after a few wrong turns, we finally found it – Floyd Collins’ Sand Cave, where Floyd was trapped and died, where people had argued over rescue theories, where thousands of gawkers and onlookers had assembled seventy-four years before. We found the tiny passage through which Floyd had squeezed. It was utterly magical and emotionally overwhelming. I felt like I was about to cry. I couldn’t believe we were there. It was the feeling you get standing in a beautiful cathedral. We then drove up the road further to find Floyd’s grave, and an elderly couple who had been driving by stopped when they saw us in the graveyard. The man had been a cave guide many years before and had carried Floyd’s coffin when they had moved it to that cemetery. They told us so many great stories and then told us how to find the unmarked Crystal Cave, which Floyd had opened to the public before his death in 1925. The next day, we found the small dirt road they had described, behind a locked gate. We parked and walked several miles down this road, not knowing for sure if it was even the right road. We found a couple buildings which we thought might be a house and a ticket office Floyd had built. While Alison and Troy took pictures, I found a path and ventured down it. I came across homemade stairs and a railing leading down to an entrance into a hill. I had found Crystal Cave and I screamed myself hoarse running back up to them. The entrance was sealed behind a big iron door, but when Troy pushed on the door, it opened, and to our great surprise we were able to walk inside the first chamber of Floyd’s cave, to stand on the floor he had smoothed, to breathe the air he had once breathed. It was an experience I’ll never forget.
– Scott Miller, director

What I remember most about the show is reuniting with Scott, and working with him for the first time in years. Whenever I've worked with Scott, it's always been an educational experience for me because he is so knowledgeable about the material he covers for any show he does. This was the first musical I had done since I graduated college. Since then I have concentrated mostly on music-writing, singing, and acting from time to time in various film and TV projects. So this was a welcome change of pace for me, as well as a sort of homecoming, since the musical stage is my first love. I remember everyone involved in Floyd Collins being a bit overwhelmed at first by the complexity of the material. Not just the score, but the story behind it too. This show is also a fine example of the type of material that Scott chooses for New Line, and why I believe the company has survived, and will thrive in the many years to come. New Line's productions do more than entertain people like other theatre companies or shows, where you leave the theatre afterwards, and within fifteen minutes forget what you just saw. New Line challenges the audience, and gives the audience something to think about after they leave the theatre. I'm not familiar with many other theatre companies, besides perhaps the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, that sets the bar so high in the choosing and executing of material, whether it's a popular classic, a lesser known piece, or a world premiere of an original work; where the result is a growing and learning experience for the artists onstage and behind the scenes as well as quality entertainment for the audience. Here's to ten--and hopefully many more--years for New Line! I hope that I'm lucky enough to be a part of your process again and again in the future.
– Eric Whitman, “Homer”

The Ballad of Floyd Collins – A Parody
(To the tune of the theme song for The Beverly Hillbillies,
with parody lyrics by Scott Miller.)

Come and listen to a show about a man named Floyd,
So damn weird that you’ll prob’ly get annoyed,
All about Kentucky and a fella in a cave --
Not so very happy but it surely is brave.
Brave theatre. Dissonant music. Hard to understand.

At the openin’ of the show, this Floyd goes down,
Crawling on the stage, kinda squirmin’ all around,
First ten minutes, he gets trapped real tight,
And he doesn’t move a muscle for the rest of the night.
Long night. Just sits there. No choreography.

And that's about the size of it, the whole friggin' show,
All in all, about as fun as choppin' off your toe.
Lots of heavy drama and some really long songs,
A-weepin' and a-wailin' where the comedy belongs.
Just a joke or two. That's all we ask.

Now, the first thing you know, they’ll be doing it agin,
Another damn musical about a mortal sin,
More crazy melodies a-dancin’ in your head,
And sure, by the end, well, the hero will be dead.
Stone dead. Depressing as hell…

A New Line Songbook (1999)

a world premiere revue
Conceived by Scott Miller
featuring songs from Attempting the Absurd, Assassins, Pippin, In the Blood, Company, Sweeney Todd, Passion, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, March of the Falsettos, Songs for a New World, Into the Woods, Floyd Collins, and other shows
October 9, 1999

Karl Berberich, Kevin Collier, Cindy Duggan, Keith Hale, Alison Helmer, Rebecca Hunter, Lisa Karpowicz, Keith Price, Angie Reinert, John Rhine, Dan Sattel, Deborah Sharn, and Kimi Short. Hosted by Steven R. Johnson

Director - Scott Miller
Lighting Designer - Amy Schott

Into the Woods (1999)

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Lapine
June 10 - 26, 1999
St. Marcus Theatre, St. Louis

Narrator/Mysterious Man – Steven R. Johnson
Cinderella – Sarah Laak
Jack – Adam Eisen
Jack’s Mother – Cindy Duggan
Baker – Robb Kennedy
Baker’s Wife – Deborah Sharn
Cinderella’s Stepmother – Rebecca Hunter
Cinderella’s Stepsister, Florinda – Christina Rios
Cinderella’s Stepsister, Lucinda – Johanna Schloss
Steward – Justin Heinrich
Little Red Ridinghood – Kate Novak
Witch – Laura Beard Aeling
Cinderella’s Mother/Granny/Giant’s Wife – Mary “Mo” Monahan
Wolf/Cinderella’s Prince – Karl E. Berberich
Rapunzel – Kimi Short
Rapunzel’s Prince – Sean Pritchett

THE ARTISTIC STAFFDirectors – Scott Miller & Alison Helmer
Music Director – Scott Miller
Set Designer & Scene Painter – Karl Berberich
Costume Designers – Theresa Doggett & Tim Kent
Lighting Designer – Jamie Brink
Lighting Technician – Sara Epstein
Stage Manager – Amy Francis Schott
Box Office Manager – Steve Dohrmann
Graphic Design – Laura Beard Aeling & Zachary Lips

Piano – Brad Hofeditz
Trumpet – Paul Hecht
Flute – Jessie Poepping
Percussion – Adam Kopff

“With Into the Woods, [Scott Miller] continues his experiments in proportion. His intimate production of Stephen Sondheim’s sophisticated fairy tale reduces the Broadway hit to a nursery scale, befitting both its subject matter and its psychoanalytic viewpoint. The production . . . makes the most of the St. Marcus Theatre, turning its small size into an asset. . . Into the Woods brings together an exceptionally consistent cast.” – Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“You can savor those words and music in what may be New Line’s finest production yet. . . The cast plays with smart assurance, without a weak link in the chain. . . The whole production turns these old tales into adult versions rich in wit, music, and emotion – the most satisfying kind of entertainment.” – Bob Wilcox, The Riverfront Times
DIRECTOR'S NOTESAt each stage of his life, a child may take different lessons from a single fairy tale. Each time he hears in it some new insight or lesson, depending on his needs at that moment in life. Perhaps at one moment, the child will learn that we must follow our parents’ instructions when he reads or hears Little Red Ridinghood. At a later moment, he may take from it the idea that life is full of dangers and adventures, but that no matter how scary it may get, we generally come out all right on the other end of even the darkest moments.

But fairy tales are for children. Well, maybe. Wouldn’t it be foolish to assume that just because we’re adults, we have nothing left to learn? In fact, Into the Woods is a fairy tale for adults. Real fairy tales divide the world into Good and Bad, with no gray area in between. Real fairy tales leave no room for moral ambiguity. Into the Woods takes us, as adults, into the world of fairy tales, and invites us to try to navigate this world. But we know too much and as that world changes us, we change it.

We know that in the real world a wedding is not the end of the story, that it is not a guarantee of happiness. Going into the fairy tale woods with the knowledge we have will shape that world into something very different. We know that the people who claim to be doing good, aren’t always. A child might accept the idea that killing a giant is unambiguously good. But we live in a world with war, abortion, mercy killing, and capital punishment. Killing suddenly isn’t all that clear-cut. Some people would say killing is never good. Others will point out that killing is sanctioned in the Bible. Which are we to believe? There are no easy answers.

Into the Woods is a very special show. In Act I, we are presented with a (relatively) conventional fairy tale that ends with a Happily Ever After. But in Act II, that world of black and white is dissected, deconstructed, examined more closely. We see that getting our Happily Ever After, getting what we want sometimes necessitates acts we may not be proud of, acts that have unforeseen consequences down the road. When we go into these woods, we bring our adult world with us, where people sometimes lie and steal.

We’ve already learned all those lessons about honesty, bravery, and obedience (though we may not always practice them). Into the Woods teaches us lessons--things some of us adults have not yet learned--about consequences, about responsibility to the community. (Maybe Clinton needs to see this show.) “No One is Alone” isn’t just a song that promises support in our time of need; it’s also a song that cautions us to be aware of how our actions affect others, reminding us that we do not live in a vacuum. One line says, “Careful – no one is alone.” It’s this “careful” that raises this show out of the ordinary.

Some people have criticized Into the Woods for being too preachy, for spelling out its lessons too completely. Real fairy tales never explicitly state their morals, leaving that work for the child to do. But this is a fairy tale for adults, and, as we all know, adults are far less perceptive than children.


I loved doing this show. Absolute fun. I was nervous about singing, as the only singing I had really done was karaoke, but the company and environment were so incredible that I felt at home. I remember Justin and I had the arduous task of transforming Karl from the Wolf into Cinderella’s Prince. This entailed starting backstage, stripping him of the Wolf vest, racing upstairs, wiping away sweat and make-up, running through St Marcus’ Church, helping him into Prince clothes, and then downstairs for his cue to enter behind the audience. Thanks, Scott. Great idea. Luckily we made it every night. During the run of the show, I developed a wonderful bruise on my left shin and scars on both wrists from falling. It wasn’t so much falling as slamming myself into a wooden riser. The audience reaction was more than worth it, especially one night, when an older couple gasped “Oh dear! I hope he’s all right!”
– Sean Pritchett, “Rapunzel’s Prince”

The show was Into the Woods. I was Cinderella’s Dead Mother, the Giant, and Granny. The cast did a lot of marching through the audience. Lots of bobbing and weaving – single file, so as not to run into each other. I was Granny at the time of The Incident. All I remember is two Princes coming at me at the same time. I tried to “weave” out of the way, but in my struggle to remember those damn Sondheim lyrics, I had forgotten about the ramps which extended out from the stage. Yes, I avoided the Princes, but not the ramps. My feet were caught under the ramp and down I went. I believe St. Louis experienced a 5.3 on the Richter scale that evening. I managed to get myself up and march through the audience, singing and smiling. Instantly, my feet were growing. I decided not to take off my character shoes, believing I would never get them back on. My feet were the feet of the Giant. They became a lovely color of purple. Not to be one to complain or miss a party, I went out after the show with the cast, with the help of Vicadin and a couple of Bud Lights. Later, the x-rays showed I had fractured my feet in 3 places. The irony is that I was given many compliments later in the run regarding the ‘cute’ way Granny was walking because of my injury. And so as the old adage goes – the show must go on.
– Mo Monahan, “Granny, Giant’s Wife, Cinderella’s Mother”

I'm one of those people who starts laughing when things get tense. Or when someone falls. So I got a good laugh the night Mo Monahan fell in a heap during the show in her Granny clothes. Unfortunately, I didn't actually get to see the fall (so I don't have the rights to re-enact it), but I got to witness the aftermath. I found Mo sitting in the bathroom, moaning and actually crying some. Now, of course that's not funny, but I couldn't control my laughter when she explained what was wrong. Here's the direct quote: “I fell... I fell out there... I fell flat on my face... in front of all those people, I tripped and fell... flat on my stupid face!” And while I certainly cared that Mo had hurt herself, I nearly gnawed the inside of my cheek raw trying to keep from cackling loudly, as the show was still in progress. Needless to say, Mo spent the remainder of the run wearing a walking cast on her ankle.
– Beck Hunter, “Cinderella’s Stepmother”

New Line's production of Into The Woods had a beautiful set, an extremely talented cast, superb and imaginative direction, a very good band, a masterful score and script, and an anatomically complete Wolf. Karl, who played the Wolf, would dance and move around the audience area (Scott blocked the show using the entire theatre as a stage) during rehearsals in a very provocative way. He would slither and slink and use pelvic thrusts that we knew would be in audience members’ faces. The Wolf's costume was to have a suggestive bulge in the crotch area and everyone thought the pelvic thrusts would be fun for the audience. When the Wolf's costume was delivered, the bulge was more than a suggestion. It was unmistakable proof of the Wolf's gender. Needless to say, the pelvic thrusts took on a whole new dynamic. The script didn't give us any clues about the Wolf's first name, but if I were to venture a guess, I think it would be Dick.
– Steve Johnson, “Narrator/Mysterious Man”

I loved playing Rapunzel and having long blonde hair. Being of Asian descent, I had never pictured myself as a blonde. I even bleached my eyebrows to be more blonde! What I really enjoyed more than anything about Into the Woods was the environment. The entire theatre was transformed into the woods, and the stage incorporated hills and life-sized trees that came alive! It was a spectacular set, and you couldn't help feeling like you were somewhere else, somewhere where giants lurk, witches live, and the big bad wolf could jump out from anywhere. I have to mention a funny-in-an-odd-sort-of-way thing. One time, when I was trying to ask the costume designer a question, her response (with English accent) as she went by was, “You're not to speak to me while I'm walking!” I could hardly believe my ears! Now I love to tell that story, and you have to laugh.
– Kimi Short, “Rapunzel”

All of us girls were crammed into the rear dressing room of the St. Marcus, a room so cluttered and full of bugs, dead and alive, that I refused to take off my shoes unless I was standing on the towel I brought. Beck told me one night that if she were to die young in some freak accident, she wanted me to create a memorial fund for her which would rehab and redecorate the St. Marcus dressing rooms. As New Line is no longer performing at the St. Marcus Theatre, I'm now glad on two counts that Beck is still alive.
– Johanna Schloss, “Lucinda”

Camelot (1999)

Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
Music by Frederick Loewe
Based on The Once and Future King,
By T. H. White
March 11-27, 1999
St. Marcus Theatre, St. Louis

THE CASTArthur Pendragon – Ted Cancila
Guenevere – Deborah Sharn
Lancelot du Lac – Karl E. Berberich
Merlyn/Pellinore – Steve Johnson
Sir Dinadan – Kevin Collier
Sir Lionel – Keith Thompson
Sir Sagramore – Jesse Lawder
Sir Castor – Jerry Smith
Sir Gawaine/Mordred – Walter Marts
Nimué/Lady Catherine – Kimi Short
Morgan Le Fay/Lady Elaine – Rebecca Hunter
Lady Anne/Tom of Warwick – Sarah Laak
Lady Sybil – Johanna Schloss

THE ARTISTIC STAFFDirectors – Scott Miller, Alison Helmer
Music Director – Scott Miller
Lighting Designer – Jamie Brink
Costume Designer – Elizabeth Krausnick
Technical Director – Karl Berberich
Lighting Technician – Sara Epstein
Stage Manager – Amy Francis Schott
Weapons Designer – Bryan Fick
Box Office Manager – Steve Dohrmann
Graphic Design – Laura Aeling

Piano – Steven C. Showalter
Guitar/Mandolin – D. Mike Bauer
Trumpet – Paul Hecht
Percussion – Adam Kopff

“This show does not look, sound, or feel like any other Camelot [but] . . . this stripped down version has a lot going for it.” – Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“It’s a longish evening, but so full of fine voices and serious, convincing performances, that its command of our attention is unfailing.” – Steve Callahan, KDHX-FM

“The musical’s dark ending doesn’t jar against too light and romantic a tone in the earlier scenes. Elemental passions and their potential for trouble lurk in the first moments, when even wise Merlin succumbs to the seductions of the flesh.” – Bob Wilcox, The Riverfront Times

DIRECTOR'S NOTESWhy Camelot? For a company known for doing Assassins, Sweeney Todd, and Out on Broadway, it seems a strange choice.

Well, I've been answering that question for a year now. And the answer keeps changing. It seems now there are two answers.

First, I'm crazy. And so is everyone who works with me.

Second, Camelot is a near masterpiece. It deals with some extremely heavy issues, all still relevant, with surprising parallels to our current scandal-ridden government [with Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinksy]. And its themes of sex, violence, betrayal, and death are the same themes we've explored in our other work.

What we discovered was that this story and these characters have a complexity and a depth that has been lost or ignored over the years. Going back to the source, The Once and Future King, we found richer, deeper characters than we'd ever seen in this show before, characters the original production no doubt explored fully but that have been forgotten and simplified over time.

Camelot is no fairy tale. It's a fiery, tragic, thought-provoking fable that somehow manages to make us laugh along the way.

But though it's a masterpiece, it's one with flaws and that makes it a tremendous challenge. How do you make an audience care about Arthur who continually refuses to face the obvious dangers that lurk behind every corner of his court? Or Guenevere, who has the gentlest, most caring husband in the world, and leaves him for another man? And what about Lancelot, who sleeps with his best friend's wife?

The answer is to explore why Arthur ignores the signs, what is missing in Arthur and Guenevere's marriage, what Guenevere needs that Arthur can't give her and that Lance can, and how Lance can balance his obsessive love for Arthur and his passionate love for Guenevere. This is a show about passions – Arthur's passion for the philosophy of law and for changing the world, Guenevere's passion for life and romance, Lancelot's passion for Arthur's dream and for Guenevere's love.

Ours is a muscular, aggressive, confrontational Camelot, one that lives not in the world of musical comedy, but instead in the dark world of Arthur, King of the Britons, and his knights of the Round Table. This is one of the greatest legends of the western world. We hope that we have brought to it the power and depth of understanding that it deserves.

As with all our shows, what we're attempting requires more from you, the audience, than most musicals ask, but we hope that the rewards for your efforts will be considerable. Enjoy.


For years, I had wanted to do Camelot small. Intimate, close up, psychological, personal. I wanted to get rid of the stupid dances, the idiotic costume parades, all the crap that had nothing to do with the story. The original production had cost over a million dollars and that was in 1960! But the story is really about just three people – people with Shakespearean-sized passions, sure, but at their core, real people with real feelings, real insecurities, and best of all, real contradictions. These are complicated, flawed, fascinating characters. I had played Arthur in high school and knew that there was more in that material than most people saw – or would admit they saw. I was convinced that for Camelot to really work, it had to be small and private. The audience had to feel like eavesdroppers, not spectators at a parade. I asked the three leads to make every scene personal and unbearably vulnerable, to rarely open themselves up physically to the audience (the usual practice in musicals), and above all, to let the show be unashamedly sexual and passionate. I’d like to think all these unusual – some said “radical” – ideas paid off, that our Camelot was not only different, but better. But my greatest joy was hearing audience members leaving the theatre each night, saying that they hadn’t remembered Camelot being that funny. Or sexy. Or sad. The biggest lesson I’ve learned with New Line is that the original production of a show isn’t always the best way to do it. In some cases, the authors were bound by convention, by finances, by audience expectations, by fear – and they didn’t always do their work justice. And sometimes it takes the distance of a few decades to see that.
– Scott Miller, director

I walked into the basement of the St. Marcus Theatre, not having a clue what to expect. Hey, I'm still pretty new to the theatre, and I had no concept of what Professional Non-Equity Theatre was. But I was prepared. I had my sheet music for “If Ever I Would Leave You” under my arm when a large – no, gigantic – man greeted me at the door. Intimidating first impression? Definitely. I filled out my audition sheet, and almost wet myself when I saw that there would be pay involved. Who knew a person could get paid for doing something this fun? Well, I got up there and sang my little baritone heart out, stone cold stiff with fright. The blond guy at the piano, who I gathered was the director, then tested my range and seemed pleasantly surprised at the depth of it, commenting that my range was the one he wished he had. I didn't know quite what to make of this, but stayed around to read anyway (but not dance… hmmm... in Camelot?). They asked me to read for Lancelot. Shocking, to say the least. After all, I was only seventeen. So, I put on my pseudo-French accent after asking if such a thing would be necessary, and went to work. I think the thing that threw me the most was that there was no Arthur to grovel to. Just me, on a bare stage, blind as a bat, on my knees towards the invisible king. I think the scariest part of that audition, though, was the thought that I might actually be cast as Lancelot. Fortunately, as the story goes, a fabulous baritone named Karl came along and snatched the part with one vocal chord tied around his back. I was so relieved to be a knight, I even offered to sing tenor (but that's a whole other chapter).
– Jesse Lawder, “Sir Sagramore”

For me, one of the funniest parts of the show was something the audiences were never aware of. It's at the end of the joust. Kevin Collier's character is killed, carried on stage and then brought back to life by Lancelot. It's a very emotional scene in the show. The funny part was watching Jerry, Walter, Jesse and Keith carry Kevin from the back of the theatre to the stage. Kevin is at least six feet twelve inches tall and weighs . . . a lot. Each night when they struggled to carry him on the stretcher to the stage, my mind would always go back to the night they dropped him on his head during rehearsal. Kevin wasn't too happy about being dropped. In fact, the last time I heard that much cursing from one human being was when my ex-wife was giving birth. Thank goodness Kevin wasn't hurt and there was no permanent damage to the stage.
– Steve Johnson, “King Pellinore”

My favorite memory of Camelot was a moment we had backstage. For the first weekend of the run, all the Lords and Ladies spent their downtime chatting in the green room together. For no known reason, by the second weekend, the women had begun to retreat to our dressing room and left the men in the green room alone. We prided ourselves on having plenty of time to make transitions upstairs through the sanctuary of the St. Marcus to cross over and enter through the back of the theatre. But one night, we were involved in our conversation and hearing a cue, suddenly realized we were in grave danger of missing our entrance at the back of the theatre. Well, the “Queens of the Manor” (and I do mean queens) were quite bitter about their ladies doing their own thing, so they fell into a laughing heap as the four of us burst open the dressing room door looking like a pack of flying nuns in our long Medieval ware and raced up the back stairs, tripping and falling on each other's clothes.
– Beck Hunter, “Morgan Le Fay, Lady Elaine”

I didn't think there was a spot for me in Camelot, but Scott told me about Nimué. He described her as an enchantress that sings this one beautiful song, which was enough reason for me to audition! Steve Johnson played Merlin and it was my job as Nimué to seduce him away. Steve was great to work with on and off stage. Our scene together was short but beautiful, and I enjoyed it very much. Much to my surprise, Joe Pollack complimented me in his review in Backstage, and Judith Newmark gave me a year-end Judy Award as one of the Best Supporting Actresses of the year. I appreciate the compliments very much, but I can't help chuckling about it because I was only onstage for about two minutes! Deborah, Ted, and Karl were terrific and this was their show, but we enjoyed watching and playing our parts in the story. It was always fun watching the invisible horses race towards each other in the jousts and “seeing” Lancelot's victories, especially the time they dropped Sir Dinadan (Kevin) while carrying him back to Arthur. Well, at least it was fun for us!
– Kimi Short, “Nimué”

The very first show I costumed for the New Line Theatre was Camelot. At that time their productions were in the basement of the St. Marcus on Russell Avenue. I remember my first reaction when I descended the steps and walked through the black hanging curtains to the theatre space: this is as low as I can get. The atmosphere was dark and close due to the low ceiling, soft lighting, and the pillars scattered throughout the seating area. However, throughout that first pre-production time and during the performances, I found out that the theatre company isn’t about the space [in which it performs], but the people who make up the company. We all joked about the size of the roaches in the green room (while I kept my feet off the floor), and the dressing rooms were cozy, not cramped. I actually felt comforted when I’d walk backstage by the Christmas lights and the hot, glowing boiler. But I found that the best part of it all was the genuine thanks and gratitude I received from the actors when I costumed them. They treated me and my costumes very well. Even though the company has had to change venues with the closing of the St. Marcus, the same camaraderie has continued. It’s such a warm feeling to get applause from the people I costume, for they know that I do it so they can be better in their roles, and that I do the best that I can do. What more could I ask for?
– Betsy Krausnick, costumer

New Line's production of Camelot was superb, provocative, delightful and yet so remarkably different from any other version I've ever seen of this show. As I sat in the audience that evening, I found it difficult to believe that my adult son, Scott Miller, was directing this highly sophisticated show. It seemed such a short time ago that Scott, my lanky young teenager, starred as the ill-fated King in his high school production of Camelot. My pride in his directing skills almost equaled those I experienced as I watched him perform so many years ago. Anyone who is a mother will understand my feelings ... the rest of you will just have to grin and bear it.
– Joan Zobel, mother of the director

Then there was the time when everyone got late night phone calls.
I had rehearsal one night, around January or February, and my ex-girlfriend was in town from school. She and I were good friends still, and we decided to go out for coffee or something after I got out of rehearsal. So, as I got out, she picked me up and off we went on our way to a fun night. It was, of course, a school night, and I did stay out quite late. I got home around two to find my father and his fiancée not in sight. Well, the way the story goes, they woke up to my empty bed, and happened to find my Camelot cast list. They then proceeded to make calls to at least three people (including the directors, Scott and Alison) wondering if we were still in rehearsal and if they had any idea where I might be. Seeing as how rehearsal got out at ten and it was now two, no one really had much to say on that subject. Needless to say, I had a lot of explaining to do next rehearsal.
– Jesse Lawder, “Sir Sagramore”

In Act II of Camelot, Sarah, Beck, Kimi, and I were offstage a lot (which is generally the case for any woman in Camelot who isn't Guenevere). On one particular night, we apparently had been listening to the same radio station on the way to the theatre, for we all had The Bangles' version of “Hazy Shade of Winter” in our heads. Very softly, almost in a whisper, we sang it and split into the harmonies as though we had rehearsed it for months. We decided we'd make a great girl band. And we ate a lot of grapefruit. In case you were wondering what we did for that hour backstage before the finale....
– Johanna Schloss, “Lady Sybil”