The Cradle Will Rock (2001)

Book, Music and Lyrics by
Marc Blitzstein
October 4-27, 2001
ArtLoft Theatre, St. Louis

Orson Welles/Larry Foreman – Aaron Benedict
Marc Blitzstein – Scott Miller
Moll – Victoria Thomas
Gent/Clerk/Bugs/Reporter – Paul Coffman
Dr. Specialist/Dauber/Dick – Mark Moloney
Gus Polock/Cop/Prof. Scoot – Eric Little
Reverend Salvation/Pres. Prexy – Colin DeVaughan
Junior Mister/Steve/Prof. Trixie – Jedediah Heath Wilson
Editor Daily/Yasha – Terry Meddows
Harry Druggist – Christopher “Zany” Clark
Mrs. Mister – Cindy Duggan
Sister Mister – Molly McBride
Mr. Mister – Thomas Conway
Sadie Polock/Prof. Mamie – Amy Brixey
Ella Hammer – Alison Helmer

Director – Scott Miller
Lighting Designer – Mark Wilson
Costume Designer – Betsy Krausnick
Box Office Manager – Steve Dohrmann
Graphic Designer – Kris Wright
Photographer – Robert Stevens

Pianist – Scott Miller

“Most Ambitious Production of 2001” – Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “The Year in Theatre”

The Cradle Will Rock is one of the most memorable shows I have ever seen. This joint venture is not only brilliant in idea, but also in execution.” – Tony Burnett, Talkin

“An intriguing new production . . . energetic, intelligent . . . passionate, stylized and exciting.” – Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“A spirited, entertaining production . . . absurd and chilling at the same time, the perfect blend of musical form and content.” – Brian Hohlfeld, The Riverfront Times

“New Line’s production of The Cradle Will Rock is a delightful and compelling show, featuring numerous strong performances.” – Mark Bretz, KDHX-FM

It’s June 16, 1937.

You arrived around 7:30 tonight at the Maxine Elliott Theatre to see the new musical The Cradle Will Rock, written by Marc Blitzstein and directed by Orson Welles. Welles is that amazing young director who staged the all Black version of Macbeth up in Harlem, the one they called the “voodoo Macbeth.” You can’t wait to see his newest project. You heard they’ve already sold 14,000 tickets in advance for this show.

But when you got to the theatre, it was padlocked and there were armed guards surrounding the building. Nobody seemed to know why. A crowd was gathering and Mr. Welles and the producer John Houseman kept promising the show would go on tonight. While you waited, actors from the show performed outside the theatre, dancing, singing, anything they could think of…

Finally, around 8:00 p.m., the 22-year-old Welles appeared again with Houseman at his side, and they announced that The Cradle Will Rock will be performed after all, at the Venice Theatre, twenty-one blocks uptown. They invited everyone to join them there for the opening night of this remarkable new musical. Like almost everybody else, you decided to make the trek up to the other theatre, and along the way, as hundreds of others joined the crowd, everyone was talking about the show. What’s it about? Why was the theatre padlocked and who sent the armed guards?

You get here to the Venice Theatre and the atmosphere is absolutely charged with electricity. For all you know, the police are going to bust in any minute and raid the place.

You heard on the way up that this musical is about labor unions, and few issues are more timely right now – or more explosive. Last year, there was no hint of any unions at U.S. Steel, but by February of this year, just five months ago, the steel workers unionized. Workers are going on strike all over the country now, and factory owners are calling out police or the National Guard or both to crush these rebellions. You read in the papers that in a lot of these sit-down strikes, people have been killed in the ensuing riots or in suspicious explosions at union headquarters. You read that just two weeks ago, Chicago police killed ten people and injured sixty in a labor riot.

In response to this new national union movement, anti-labor organizations are springing up all over America, with pseudo-patriotic names like the Liberty League, the Citizen’s Alliance, and others in the same vein.

You wonder who would write a musical comedy about all this.

But tonight’s performance promises not only to be the first public showing of a new musical, but also an act of brazen defiance by its creators – and by this audience – a potentially dangerous act if the police do show up and raid the theatre.

Who knows – tonight just might go down in history…

Hair (2001)

Book and Lyrics by
James Rado and Gerome Ragni
Music by Galt MacDemot
July 26 - Sept. 1, 2001
ArtLoft Theatre, St. Louis

Bradley Calise, Kiné Brown, Joy Ducree, Wayne Easter, Mike Heeter, Justin Heinrich, Mike Howard, Beck Hunter, Tamara Kelly, Terry Love, Mo Monahan, Uchenna Ogu, John Rhine, Nicole Trueman

Director – Scott Miller
Lighting Designer – Paul Summers
Costume Designer – Justin Heinrich, Bradley Calise
Set Designers – the Osage Tribe
Lighting Technician – Christopher Clark
Box Office Manager – Steve Dohrmann
Graphic Designer – Kris Wright
Photography – Robert Stevens

Keyboard – Scott Miller
Lead Guitar – Dale Hampton
Rhythm Guitar – M. Joshua Ryan
Bass – Dave Hall
Trumpet – Carl Nelson
Percussion – Adam Kopff

“New Line’s production . . . forged an intense connection with its audience. . . The finale, ‘Let the Sun Shine In,’ was almost unbearably emotional. and brought the audience onto the stage to tearfully hug and dance with the cast.” – Allison Xantha Miller, American Theatre

“When a director revives a play less than a year after he first staged it, he better have good reason – reasons like style, audience appeal and abundant energy. New Line artistic director Scott Miller has all the reason he needs for this summer’s revival of last summer’s hit, Hair. . . [It] is, above all, an ensemble piece. It emerged from a time when it seemed possible that group efforts to change society could succeed. This play, and New Line’s production of it, succeed on exactly those same terms.” – Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Director Scott Miller’s Osage Tribe is an ensemble cast of frenzied and frolicking psychedelic-perfection. . . The Osage shout, scream, wail, sing, point, dance, laugh, plead, and rage to the audience that is intimately wrapped around the stage like some morphed tribal council in trance. It is wondrous.. . But it is the Osage ensemble that is the real star. Their unbridled energy and communal vocals framed within Miller’s imaginative choreography provide a manic tale that when finished finds you somewhere in between tears and euphoric joy.” – Colin Murphy, The Vital Voice

“Don’t let the language and the nude scene fool you – there’s a lot of innocence and idealism on the stage, and those are two things we need – any time – whether with Hair or without.” – Joe Pollack, KWMU-FM

“New Line Theatre shows off its crowning glory in an open-ended run of Hair.” – Byron Kerman, The Riverfront Times

“Artistically, [Hair in June 2000] was one of the best productions New Line ever staged, and everybody seemed to know it.” – Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

It is 1968 and the youth of America are lost.

Their parents, still celebrating the prosperity that followed World War II, have raised social drinking to an art form, they are bathing in the excesses of capitalistic materialism, and they are showering their children with everything anyone could want – except the nourishment of the soul.

These young people have all the physical trappings of happiness but don’t know who they are, where they belong, what is expected of them. More of them are going to college than ever before, where they learn to think independently, to question the status quo, and to reject their parents’ long-held, arbitrary definitions of morality, success, and happiness. These young people see racism run rampant in America, with lynchings still common in the South. They see American youths shipped off to southeast Asia to fight a war which has nothing to do with America and which appears to be unjust, immoral, racist, and impossible to win. They see disregard for the environment in the unchecked progress of American industry. And they see a culture that now worships at the feet of a new God – consumerism.

What do these kids want? They want to erase all the rules and start over, creating a new society that makes sense, one built on the idea of celebrating all the wonderful, magical, indefinable things that make us human, the things that unite us, the things that join us to the rest of the natural world. They ask why we have such restrictive rules of sexuality. Is it because some long ago culture wanted to control inheritance? Or was it about the perpetuating of a particular ethnic group? Why do we have such restrictive rules about drugs? Is it because once we taste the liberation of mind-expanding substances, we’ll be harder to control? Why do the adults who drink like fishes at cocktail parties so self-righteously condemn marijuana? Why do they so strongly condemn all drugs, when so many other cultures highly value the ritual use of hallucinogenic drugs to achieve a higher level of consciousness and to find God? Why do so many people call themselves people of faith but act in such immoral ways?

Our tribe has not come to insult you or the values you hold dear. Our intention is not to shock or upset – though we may do that too. We have come to celebrate our humanness, the joy of living, our connection to each other and to the world around us, our God given sexuality, and the wonders and mysteries of the human mind and body

We have come to ask you to join us in rejecting violence, hatred, fear, and judgment wherever we find it, to question the way things have always been, to look at the world with fresh eyes and to resolve to change the things that need changing.

Especially here and now, in the year 2001, consider whether we need more guns in the world, whether we value our children enough, whether we value our freedom enough, whether we value our planet enough, and whether people should be discriminated against because of the way they look or who they fall in love with

It is a new age. Everything is ready. It’s time to change the world.


After my first show with New Line, Anyone Can Whistle, I took a psychedelic trip up the Methedrine River to Hair. I could not believe that I got to do this show. I wanted to do this show ever since I was in college. I said that if anyone ever did it, I would be in it. Well, a year before doing Whistle, I was skimming through the Riverfront Times and found that New Line Theatre was having auditions for Hair. I thought the mother ship had landed and it was calling me home. But I was not prepared for the audition at all, so I didn't go.

Then, as Whistle was closing, some of the cast members went into rehearsal for Hair again. I found out that they were making some changes to the show, and that is when I seized the day. I said to Scott, “If you need one more person, I will be glad to be in it.” I could tell that Scott was in serious debate about letting one more person into the show because the other four new people had already had rehearsals with the previous year’s cast. Let me tell you, I was on pins and needles waiting for him to say something about it. Nothing. Didn't hear anything for a while. Then finally I was asked to join the Hair cast, and as professionally as I could, I said, “Yes.” (On the inside I was pissing my pants.)

Later during the run of Whistle, some of the last year’s Hair cast come to see us. I was so nervous because they didn't know anything about me; I didn't know anything about them; I just didn't know what to expect. When I met them, they were so friendly and welcoming of me, I knew everything was going to be all right. I will have to keep it real – I was a little overwhelmed by the words in the songs, but everyone made sure to let me know that if I needed any help, just ask.

Early in the rehearsal process, I felt an immediate closeness among the cast even though we were still getting to know each other. We became such a family even down to the little disagreements we would have. It was funny how one show could bring strangers so close together to form bonds that last a lifetime.

There is a reason that I found New Line and Scott at this point in my life. And I think that the reason is very simple. It was time for me to grow up and realize who I am and who I am becoming. I know that might sound strange, but working with this company, in these two shows, through the allowance of Scott, I will never be the same again. Thank you, Scott!
-- Tamara L. Kelly
Osage Tribe name “Dances with Freedom”

As with every family in the 1960s, our lives were changed by the Vietnam War. What was once a typical family of kids going to high school, school plays, and sports had turned into a life of impending doom. My two older brothers were drafted into the army. Our home was filled with quiet fear of the dreaded phone call that they were “going over.” No one really talked about it until the letters from their friends who were there were sent. Here I was, a little girl, listening to stories of shrapnel imbedded in the arms, legs, and faces of the boys I’ve known all my life. I tried to escape from the nightmare of what was happening around me. But how could I? Dan Rather, war correspondent, was showing me images every night on the news of bloody bodies, stories of torture, POWs, and the horrors of “the real world.” I felt utterly confused, helpless, and totally freaked out that my brothers may be included in the body count of the dead. Children should not believe that war is a part of life. I thought every generation had to have a war. After all, my grandfather was in WWI and my dad in WWII. Doing Hair helped me break out and shout to the world to stop the violence, stop the prejudice. Hair gave me hope of peace and the realization that I can make a difference. I finally can speak out and express the emotions that I kept inside of me, so tormented, at the age of twelve. I am a new person because of Hair. The Osage Tribe has a motto to “Keep It Real.” If we speak out about the injustices of the world, someone will listen. The audience listened, and I felt empowered and it has overflowed into my life and I will never be the same. My brothers, Pat and Dan, never were shipped over. By some miracle of fate, they were saved and I am thankful.
-- Mo Monahan
Osage Tribe name “Mother Nature”

It’s impossible to describe the experience of performing Hair to someone who hasn’t done it. I was highly skeptical of the many people who told me their lives were changed by working on this show – until I worked on it, that is. From the choosing of the tribe name to the overwhelming, almost unbearable rush of emotion in the show’s finale, it is an experience unlike any other. Not only does it bond each member of the tribe to every other member (and this includes actors, director, designers, musicians, box office people), but it bonds each tribe to all the other tribes around the world, past and present. It centers people, changes them, guides them toward balance in their lives, guides them back to paths in their lives they’ve forgotten or abandoned, guides them toward a deeper spirituality, one that may or may not have to do with Christianity. Even the most cynical among us was transformed by Hair. It holds a mystical, primal power that is impossible to explain. Just as it is utterly unique in so many concrete ways, it is just as unique in all the unexplainable ways. And because we closed this second production of the show just nine days before the infamous terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, it shaped profoundly how we reacted to that event as well. We talked a lot about that among the tribe. We felt like we all had an additional shield against the attack on America, a shield the rest of the country didn’t know about – as Hallmarky as it may sound, we had the power and the peace of Hair to get us through that. Michael Butler, the original Broadway producer of Hair, had told me when he flew in to see our show that he believed another 60s era was coming and that the Hair tribes would lead the way. Certainly, when the U.S. declared war on September 11, we all saw parallels to Vietnam and we wondered how he knew.
-- Scott Miller, director
Osage Tribe name “Kerouac”

And what of LSD? Is it just a drug, or the reason a group of children grew flowers in their hair, had stars in the eyes, and thought they could change the world? If they knew then what they know now, would they still have tasted those sweetened drops, or would they have laid down in the transcendental river of reality and let it wash them away – daisies and all?

What a crazy time that was. Whoo! But did we dig it then and do we dig it now? We do. And if I meet up with Scott Miller in St. Louis, I definitely will say thanks for letting me put the flowers back into my hair and keep the starlight in my eyes for two summers now. And I’ll probably let him know that I dig all of the time he spent researching those cats and their message, so we could stay true to their power. Boom boom, beep beep.

And so maybe they really will change the world after all – just not as quickly as they had hoped because they didn’t foresee the need to hand the daisy-powered baton to the next generation. And so maybe the journey of these past two summers of love are not at the beginning or the end, but just another piece of that movement. And maybe when Scott and the rest of the tribe look in the mirror, they’ll notice the stars and they’ll keep on passing out flowers and won’t put them down for a long time to come.

Our destination is the same – our journey is where it’s at and we all know where it’s at. Let the sun shine in. Peace and love.
– Uchenna Ogu
Osage Tribe name “Marrakesh”

Yes, Hair changed my life.

Now that I have that out of the way, I figure I’m faced with two choices. I could either: A) spend the rest of this essay attempting to articulate just how Hair has made me a more caring yet carefree person with an amazing renewed spirit, blah, blah, blah; or, B) I could describe a single incident that kinda sums up all of those things in a nice neat package. While A is a tempting, I think I’ll keep it simple for this assignment and go with the answer I always chose when I couldn’t come up with something better on high school history tests: B.

“Can I have your headband?”

It seemed like an innocent enough request from the sweet, smiling, grandma-type standing in front of me after our final Hair performance, September 1, 2001. Following nearly every show, the scene was similar – people pouring out of their seats to fill the stage floor, dancing with the cast, hugging, crying and telling their own stories of the Johnson/Nixon Era. But this woman’s agenda was different. She tapped me on the shoulder, turned me around to face her and grabbed my hands. She just stared at me with wet eyes for what was beginning to be an uncomfortable amount of time. She said nothing. She followed it up with a surprisingly strong hug and finally the question – “Can I have your headband?”

Playing Claude in our production, I found that people had strange reactions to me after the show. Having just seen Claude murdered in the jungles of Vietnam, only to appear once more as a ghostly vision, some people were hesitant to talk to me. Some wouldn’t even make eye contact. But there were others still who only wanted to tell me about their personal Vietnam experiences – the political atmosphere in the late 60s and early 70s, the horrible memories of the draft, and the young people they lost to Vietnam.

But this woman wanted my headband – a simple, red, western patterned handkerchief that I had folded to tie around my head. It was used to reflect the fashion of the period, but mostly I tied it on to hold my wig tightly in place. “I would love for you to have it.” I said, and walked with her on my arm to the backstage area. Along the way, she told me how much she enjoyed the show, how it made her feel and about the 19-year-old son that she lost to Vietnam. As she took the headband from me, she again grabbed my hands and said, “My son used to wear a headband just like this, and I wanted to keep it to help me remember.”

My mind went numb. Nothing I could’ve said would have made a difference anyway. It just sent a breaker of emotion that started at the base of my neck, up and over my head like a hood. I had no use for the headband any longer. The show was over and it was time to move on. I just thanked the woman for coming to the show, hugged her and zombied upstairs to the dressing rooms.

As I stripped out of my character’s final soldier’s dress uniform and began putting on my “real world” clothes of jeans, tennis shoes and a t-shirt, it smacked me hard. The idea that Hair wasn’t just some relic of 60s flower power. Its effects have reached way beyond that. This show that seems so dated on the exterior, but it’s still having a profound effect on every member of its audience and anyone involved in its production. This woman’s simple request broke through my opaque walls and the sun came piercing through. Taking stock, re-prioritizing, and connecting with people in ways I had long forgotten – it’s all in my future now. I’m following the river in my heart. Down to the gutter. Up to the glitter. Into the city where the truth lies. Thank you Hair. Thank you God. And thank you to the nameless woman who showed me the way.
-- Mike Heeter, “Claude”
Osage Tribe name Capt. Britannica

Anyone Can Whistle (2001)

Book by Arthur Laurents
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
June 14-30, 2001
ArtLoft Theatre, St. Louis

Mayoress Cora Hoover Hooper – Lisa Karpowicz
J. Bowden Hapgood – Troy Schnider
Nurse Fay Apple – Chelsea Phillips
Comptroller Schub – Michael Brightman
Treasurer Cooley – Paul Coffman
Chief of Police Magruder – Christopher Clark
Cora’s Bodyguard – Greg Coleman
Mrs. Schroeder – Cindy Duggan
Baby Joan Schroeder – Jeannie Skala
Dr. Detmold – Terry Meddows
Townspeople/Cookies – Kiné Brown, Greg Coleman, Cindy Duggan, Justin Heinrich, Alison Helmer, Tamara Kelly, Terry Meddows, Uchenna Ogu, Jeannine Skala

Director – Scott Miller
Choreographer – JT Ricroft
Lighting Designer – Tim Lord
Set Supervisor – Christopher Clark
Miracle Rock & Puppet Design – Todd Schaefer
Costume Designer – Russell J. Bettlach
Hair Design – Ren Binder
Box Office Manager – Steve Dohrmann
Graphic Designer – Kris Wright
Photography – Robert Stevens

Piano – Neal Richardson
Trumpet – Carl Nelson
Percussion – Adam Kopff

“Instead of bringing serious matters to the foreground, as he often does, director Scott Miller went all out for entertainment and let the issues emerge from a framework of farce. The resulting show offered much to enjoy on the surface without obscuring the depth.” – Gerry Kowarksy, The Sondheim Review

“The best reason to see Anyone Can Whistle, the appealing mess of a show that New Line Theatre is staging at the ArtLoft is simple. You’re not likely to get another chance. . . Still, anything by Stephen Sondheim has an element of fascination, thanks to his enormous influence on modern musical theatre. New Line’s artistic director Scott Miller, who has staged a number of Sondheim shows, directs this one with verve and intelligence. . . Miller and choreographer JT Ricroft make the most of the ArtLoft’s flexible space.” – Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“It’s a chance to see what the young Sondheim was capable of doing. There are a few excellent songs and some imaginative staging by Miller, and some of the comedy, led by Michael Brightman as Comptroller Schub, is delightful.” – Joe Pollack, KWMU-FM

“[Director Scott] Miller and choreographer JT Ricroft stage the musical numbers with brio – nicely adapting to the ArtLoft’s shallow stage and making intriguing use of aisle space.” – Cliff Froehlich, The Riverfront Times

When Anyone Can Whistle opened in 1964, it was so bizarre in its style, so savage in its satire, so outrageous in its social commentary that it ran only nine performances. It attacked the commercialization of religion, which still persists today, the gender and racial stereotypes that go unchallenged still today, and the blatant corruption and profiteering of politicians, which is worse today than ever. In short, it attacked the way its audiences lived their lives. No wonder it closed in a week. Musicals didn’t do that in 1964.

But the truth is those lives deserved attack, and our lives today deserve the attack even more. How is it that we condone the fact that religious titans Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Jesse Jackson are millionaires and live in mansions? What would Jesus or Gandhi have said about that? How do we condone the outrageous black stereotypes that still pervade television and movies? What would Booker T. Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr. have said about the over-sexed, drugged-out, brainless comedies full of negative stereotypes that African American writers and actors are churning out week after week? How do we condone the fact that the president of the United States, a card carrying member of the oil industry, wants to drill in the Arctic National Preserve, so he and his friends can make money? Is he all that different from Mayoress Cora Hoover Hooper?

Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents address these outrages by shining the harsh light of satire on them, exaggerating them and making the insanity and insidiousness of these practices crystal clear to us all. Cora’s fake miracle gets us thinking about Dubya and his oil buddies. The black woman Martha’s stereotypical “black” dialect and her musical references to Porgy and Bess make us recognize how readily we accept black stereotypes in everyday life – still today – without even realizing it. June and John’s gender bending shows us how silly and out-dated gender roles are in our society and how far we haven’t come since the 1950s. Fay’s sex-only-by-disguise points up the hypocrisy and hang-ups Americans have over sexuality. The Cookies themselves show us how quickly we label any deviation from the norm as a sickness or disability of some sort.

Yes, this show may offend you a little, but if that’s the only way to get us all thinking about what’s wrong with our culture, then so be it. Our world is a mess and if we can laugh tonight at how ridiculous we all are, maybe tomorrow morning we can start making changes. Anyone Can Whistle creates a strange relationship between the observers and the observed. You sit watching the kooky inhabitants of Cora’s town but Anyone Can Whistle is also watching us, noticing every prejudice, every injustice, every ridiculous and selfish move we make in our everyday lives. And at the end of Act I, we’re forced to ask the literal question: who’s watching whom?

So why is the show called Anyone Can Whistle? I think it’s because this show is about the choices we make every day, about whether we do what we’re told or just go on our merry way, living life in our own quirky fashion. Whistling is a symbol of freedom, abandon, fun, and stubborn nonconformity. Most people don’t chase after those things. But anyone can.


Like several other shows we’ve done, Anyone Can Whistle scared the shit out of me until the second week of the run, when our audiences finally started laughing their heads off. But I’ve become a fear junkie – if it doesn’t terrify me, if it doesn’t challenge me, if it doesn’t ask things of me that have never been asked before, it isn’t really fun. I didn’t know if my ideas for Whistle would work and if audiences and reviewers would understand and embrace my take on this very bizarre absurdist musical. That first week of performances, I honestly thought I might be the only person on earth who thought this show was really funny. I asked for ridiculous, over-sized, manic performances, and the actors trusted me and gave me those performances. The audiences barely laughed that first week, but the actors still trusted me. We got mixed reviews, but they still trusted me. They trusted me and I trusted the material and that’s the only way to do theatre.

Anyone Can Whistle represents everything New Line Theatre is about – rule-busting, aggressively screwing with audience expectations, refusing to do what’s been done before, tackling difficult material that scares everybody else, demanding that audiences think and participate in the experience of live theatre. And the truth is that even if all our audiences had greeted our show with only mild chuckles – or even outright hostility – I still would have been proud of us. This show was good and the hell with anybody who says differently. They haven’t taken the time to really see all the treasure that is there, and it’s their loss. And not only was the show good, it’s also important. As I said in my program notes, maybe if we can see how ridiculous our world is, we’ll be motivated to make it better. Theatre is not just about entertainment; it’s about coming together as a community to discuss the things that need discussing. If we can’t make a difference, if we can’t make people think, if we can’t change the world, why are we wasting our time?
– Scott Miller, director

When Scott cast me in Anyone Can Whistle, I must admit to having been both excited and disappointed. I was disappointed because I had hoped to snag the leading role of Hapgood. It was a reality shock to me that I had to face the fact that at 36, I was probably too old now to play the “ingénue” roles, such as Hapgood; but felt surely I was not ready to begin playing the older, character roles; the roles I refer to as “The Mr. Mooney” roles. The shock of being cast came because I really didn't think I would get cast in any role! Although I gave what I thought was a good audition, I had some conflicts with the rehearsal schedule, and felt that it would prevent my being cast in such a large role as Comptroller Schub. But cast I was. And what a phenomenal role it turned out to be for me. I didn't know that I had it in me to play this guy the way I played him. I had a blast! Looking back, I would have never even considered playing Hapgood if I had known what fun it could be to be Mr. Mooney! I learned a great deal from doing this show, but what I learned the most is that the largest role is not always the best role!
– Michael Brightman, “Comptroller Schub”

I really never thought I would write a piece like this about a professional theatre director. Contrary to popular belief, working with professionals doesn’t always mean you get a professional environment. It was for this reason I took a very long hiatus from musical theater after doing a full summer run of Oklahoma! in Florida. I was burned out, empty, and felt that the creative atmosphere of theatre was gone. The creative process, which I had embraced during my undergraduate studies, was displaced by budgets, production schedules, and directors who espoused logic but failed to convey art in their productions, much less protect their actors. I was also tired of this kind of direction from almost every single director I worked with: “If I’m not telling you that you’re doing anything wrong, you’re doing okay.” Who really wants to be just okay?

This brings me to Scott Miller. A mutual friend encouraged me to give New Line Theatre a go. I walked into the audition and proceeded to sing a song that didn’t sound too hard on the ears, and performed my greatest acting coup ever by convincing Scott and JT that I was a comedic actor. The fools! What separated the New Line experience for me was it felt like a return to my undergraduate years. It felt safe to experiment, play, and try different things night after night. If we went too far, Scott was there to catch us. If we weren’t going far enough, he would encourage us to go further.

I will carry two memories away from the show. The first memory is when the audience seemed to have finally gotten the show and they were responding with smiles and loud guffaws. It proved that the critics were wrong and somehow a lot of people in the past missed the genius of Sondheim and Laurents in this piece. What is the second memory? Scott Miller trying to find ways to get me in trouble by wondering out loud which female cast member was in my sights for that night.
– Paul Coffman, “Treasurer Cooley”

“What the hell have I gotten myself into!” Those were the first words I mumbled to myself as I was leaving the first read-through of Anyone Can Whistle. I could not believe that a director could read that script and still want to so passionately perform it in front of a viewing audience.
When I got home I read the script again, discussed it with my family and my friends, still not getting an answer that satisfied me as to why I should continue with this production. Finally, I got the courage to e-mail Scott about it. (Some courage, e-mail.) I had no idea what his reaction would be; after all, this was my first production with New Line. But this play sparked such a fire in me, I had to say something.

The next day I checked my e-mail. There it was, the response. I was so nervous to open it because I thought, he's going to think of me as a trouble maker and kick me out of the show. So, I opened it.

The message started off with some background knowledge about the play, which I already knew from reading the information I had received at the read-through. As I continued to read on, I got to the last couple of lines which read, “Theatre is not always meant to be comfortable. Sometimes it is uncomfortable and that is why we do it, to challenge ourselves as well as the audience.” After reading that, I had no doubt in my mind that I would do the show.

The funny thing about this situation was that I knew that about theatre. I have even done a “heated” play before about the struggle in Ireland during the World Wars. That did not affect me like Whistle. Then I thought about it. Whistle was directly making fun of all the racial stereotypes that were placed on us back then in the 60s that we still have yet to overcome today.

Once I got past that, I really began to play with the script as far as character choices were concerned. I will admit that I was still nervous about the show. Every rehearsal Scott would say, “I reeeeally need you guys to go to the extreme. Nothing can be too much for this show. Don't focus on the offensiveness; I know it is offensive; just play past it and accept it.” When Scott said that, I began to trust him because he trusted Sondheim, and that was all I needed to worry about.

When that show opened, we did not at all know how that audience would respond to the show. Scott was even a little nervous, but once we opened, I think all of a sudden it just clicked for everyone. It was so AWESOME!!! From the characters, to the pace, to the lines, to the music! Don't get me wrong; I felt good about it in rehearsal, but the audience really made the difference, especially in this show. I am glad that I stuck with it.
-- Tamara L. Kelly

Cabaret (2001)

Book by Joe Masteroff
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
based on Berlin Stories
by Christopher Isherwood
March 15 – April 7, 2001
ArtLoft Theatre, St. Louis

Cliff Bradshaw – Todd Schaefer
Ernst Ludwig – Christopher “Zany” Clark
Fraulein Schneider – Mo Monahan
Fraulein Kost – Deborah Sharn
Herr Schultz – Arthur Schwartz
Sally Bowles – Robin Kelso

The Kit Kat Klub
Emcee – Christopher Crivelli
Hansel/customs officer – Jim Hannah
Bobby – Bruce Ortiz
Victor – Terry L. Love
Rosie – Nicole Trueman
Lulu – Beck Hunter
Frenchie – Bradley Calise
Texas – Stacey Guenther

Director – Scott Miller
Assistant Director – Michael Leicht
Choreographer – JT Ricroft
Lighting Designer – Mark Schilling
Set Designer – Todd Schaefer
Costume Designer – Betsy Krausnick
Stage Manager – Amy Francis Schott
Master Electrician – Tim Lord
Box Office Manager – Steve Dohrmann
Graphic Designer – Kris Wright
Photography – Robert Stevens

Piano – Brad Hofeditz
Trumpet – Paul Hecht
Trombone – Terry Kippenberger
Bass – Dave Hall
Percussion – Adam Kopff

“A small spotlight falls on a door, slightly ajar. A hand reaches out, showing off black-polished nails. The index finger beckons seductively. Then the middle finger signals. With that opening moment, director Scott Miller condenses his entire approach of Cabaret – tempting, vulgar, shrewdly theatrical and admirably economical. It’s one of the most powerful productions that Miller’s company, New Line Theatre, has ever staged. . . [The band’s] raw sound suits the mood that Miller and choreographer JT Ricroft evoke in steamy Klub numbers like ‘Money’ and ‘Two Ladies,’ visually exciting and metaphorically explicit. We’re in a very sick world. . . Christopher Crivelli’s venomous performance as the Kit Kat emcee sets the standard for this show – leering, cold, totally in control. Robin Kelso plays the English star of the club, Sally Bowles, with a lot of flair both in her ‘onstage’ scenes (more pose than talent) and her ‘offstage’ scenes (more pose than heart). Yet her winning, tiny smile, coupled with occasional bursts of warmth, complicates the character. You can’t dismiss her, and you can’t trust her. It’s a provocative combination. . . But the cold heart of the play lies in the Kit Kat Klub ensemble, whose entertainments reveal a morally bereft world-view that still can frighten us. And should.” – Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“I’m sitting in the front row of the most remarkable production to hit St. Louis this season. . . We’re close enough that this once familiar musical is transformed into something quite unlike any production of it you may have seen. It’s Cabaret . . And it’s one of the best things I’ve seen the New Line Theatre do. . . Director Scott Miller has made his New Line Theatre a St. Louis institution, and I’m happy to see that it has so vibrantly survived the loss of the St. Marcus. It is very much at home in the Art Loft Theatre on Washington. Besides his deep understanding of musical theatre, Miller’s chief gift, I think, is for the gathering of outstanding talent.” – Steve Callahan, KDHX-FM

“A must-see for anyone who is interested in theatre in St. Louis.” –Gerry Kowarsky, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Cabaret, at the New Line Theatre, is a flawed but noteworthy production of the groundbreaking musical, which is as fresh and provocative as it was when it was created in 1966. The production is at its strongest in the musical numbers, all staged deftly on the tiny clublike stage by director Scott Miller and choreographer JT Ricroft. Vocally, the cast is first-rate [and] the band excellent (the accordion is a nice touch). . . In the opening number, ‘Wilkommen,’ the over-rouged, zombielike Kit Kat girls and boys, and their Emcee (Christopher Crivelli) perform enough pelvic thrusts and simulated oral sex for several productions. We’re supposed to be shocked, shocked, but the gestures are so mechanical and contrived that they become boring and meaningless. Perhaps that’s what director Miller intended: Sex has become common currency, as devalued as the German mark.” – Brian Hohlfeld, The Riverfront Times

Why is New Line Theatre, a company known for presenting world premieres and St. Louis premieres of new works, producing a thirty-five-year-old musical?

That’s simple. Because it still matters. Because there are some lessons in life so important we must revisit them from time to time.

So what does Cabaret have to teach us in 2001? That it’s not okay to ignore what’s going on around us, that we cannot allow our world to be less than it should be, that we should never keep quiet, that it’s important to participate, that we have a responsibility to each other and to our community, that any discrimination, any indignity, any prejudice, no matter how slight must be brought out into the light of day and condemned.

What would have happened in Germany in the early 1930s if more people had voted? What would have happened if people like Sally Bowles had paid attention to what was happening in the Reichstag? What would have happened if people like Fraulein Schneider had stood up and said loudly and decisively that they will not accept intimidation, that they will not be bullied, that they will not go along in the name of self-preservation? What would have happened if the people of Germany had listened more closely to the Nazis and then stood up and denounced Adolf Hitler for the madman he was?

Would things have been different? I really don’t know.

But there was some moment, some point of no return, when the Germans could have gone down a different road and saved the world from the horrors that should not have been inevitable.

Cabaret is about that moment, a time when it wasn’t yet too late, when Germany wasn’t yet locked into the path that would lead to the murder of millions of Jews. But the people of Germany couldn’t see what we see. They didn’t know how their choices, their fears, their apathy would lead to bigger things. People like Fraulein Schneider and Fraulein Kost were busy just trying to survive. People like Sally Bowles were busy having too good a time.

The extermination of the Jews started small, in tiny, daily indignities, in little, nearly unnoticeable acts of prejudice, in seemingly innocent jokes, in the words people chose. Could the same thing happen today? Of course it could. Right wing political leaders in America today say pretty much the same things the Nazis said about gays, women, family, religion, culture, education, and patriotism. It may not seem dangerous right now, but it didn’t seem dangerous in Germany in 1930 either.

We have an obligation to learn from what happened in Germany. We have an obligation to make different choices. If we don’t do it today, it may be too late tomorrow.


What an incredible experience this was for me. I had the distinct pleasure of being involved with one of the most talented group of people I have ever worked with – their creativity; their openness and responsiveness made Cabaret an event in my life that I will never forget.

I was given the role of the Emcee. It was a role of a lifetime. Now, I am keeping this all in its proper perspective. This is a professional company that uses this small space in downtown St. Louis. This is certainly not the big league. However, given the quality of the production, it very well could have been.

I auditioned for Scott Miller, and all the while I was thinking about Joel Grey in the movie. Mind you, I had not seen the stage revival. I was cast, and soon after, we had our first rehearsal. At that time, JT Ricroft, our choreographer extraordinaire, came to me and said, “In this number (Two Ladies), we would like for you to drop your pants and show your bare butt to the audience. Oh, and you need to grab each other’s crotches in one part of the song as well.” Okay, this was not the Joel Grey Emcee. I think I just entered a new dimension, and I am in for a wild ride. And I was right.

Scott’s vision of this production took all of us into the dark, deep, and seedy side of Berlin in the early 1930s. He opened doors for all of us, digging into our fantasies and stretching us all in body and mind. This was an amazing group of actors that just clicked. The result was an outstanding production which left a lasting impression on us all, one that we will rarely be able to duplicate in our lifetimes.

Scott knows how I feel about him as an artist and as a person. He gave me the ability to create and to stretch myself as an actor beyond what I thought I was able to accomplish. The fulfillment is one that I will keep with me forever. For the past twenty years I had dreamed of playing this role, and Scott allowed this small dream to be realized.

I personally have to thank Scott for his artistry in making this a special experience for me, and I know I can speak for the rest of the cast as well. New Line is a great venue for pushing the limits of theater. And with Scott at the helm, I know the St. Louis audience will experience the very edges of theater for years to come. I can’t wait to be part of the next New Line experience.
-- Christopher Crivelli, “Emcee”

Betsy, the costumer, was at rehearsal to take measurements for the costumes. She entered the room just as we were beginning to run the opening number, “Wilkommen.” I hadn’t seen Betsy in quite some time, so I went over to say hello and tell her how happy I was to see her. I knew she was there for costuming, but she had no idea why I was there. Actually, she thought I was in the show. As the number progressed, I noticed a look of horror on her face. At first I thought she wasn’t feeling well, until she leaned over and asked me a question, somewhat in confidence: “What sick mind created that number?” After showing a guilty grin and feeling satisfied that I had received my first confirmation that the number was going to work, I looked at her and simply smiled. No words were necessary. Ahhh, my work is complete.
– John Ricroft, choreographer

Life is a grope-fest, ol’ chum. That’s right. Grope-fest. I’ve never before been rubbed on, rubbed myself on, and groped so many so often. When J.T. began to teach us the choreography for the opening number, “Wilkommen,” everyone was a little hesitant at first. After a shy crotch grab here, and a nipple tweak there, the awkwardness dissolved. By the end of the run, grinding on someone was second nature. I’ve also never before or since had the pleasure to work with such a talented group of people, across the board. Every single actor with whom I shared the stage had something unique and amazing to bring to the production. The direction, choreography, the band – it was all pretty amazing. From on stage to behind the scenes. And speaking of backstage, one of my favorite backstage antics had to have been the “boy ballet” – Terry would partner Bruce during “Why Should I Wake Up?” It was really quite lovely.
– Stacey Guenther, “Texas”

I remember staging the opening number, “Wilkommen.” I knew I wanted to make a statement during the first few minutes. How can I capture the audience’s attention and accurately portray the decadence of that time and place that’s so important to the story? Simulated Sex on Stage! Yeah, that’s the ticket! So, I asked the chorus to break up into groups of twos and threes, so that we had three clusters around the stage. I then asked each group to come up with three “positions” that would present a graphic picture and I gave them fifteen minutes. During this time, I began to feel concerned about two cast members (Bruce and Steve) who were rather young, and were off on their own. They were talking to each other quietly and looking somewhat confused. I began thinking, would they be able to create something that fit the rest of the group? I went to each group and asked them to strike each position on count. Group 1, GO! Great job! Group 2, GO! Again, perfect. Okay, now it’s Bruce and Steve’s turn to show their stuff (no pun intended). I was fully prepared to witness something that would need some help and be adjusted. I just knew that they weren’t going to be able to come up with something. Group 3, GO! Much to my surprise, they did just fine. All I remember is during the two other groups’ turns at displaying their “acts,” there was tons of laughter and joking. Once Bruce and Steve began, I heard complete silence. The room was speechless and shocked. Mouths were open in amazement. It was perfectly clear that Bruce and Steve knew exactly what they were doing…
-- John Ricroft, choreographer