Sunday in the Park with George (2003)

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Lapine
October 9 – November 1, 2003
ArtLoft Theatre, St. Louis

George – Todd Schaefer
Dot/Marie – April Lindsey
Old Lady/Blair Daniels – Mo Monahan
Nurse/Mrs./Harriet Pawling – Kim Furlow
Jules/Mr./Bob Greenberg – Thom Crain
Yvonne/Naomi Eisen – Alison Helmer
Boatman/Charles Redmond – Christopher “Zany” Clark
Celeste 1/guest – Danna Dockery
Celeste 2/Elaine – Elise LaBarge
Louise/guest – Devon Cahill
Franz/Dennis – Jeffrey Pruett
Frieda/Betty – Kirstin Kennedy
Soldier 1/Alex – Vernon Goodman
Soldier 2/Lee Randolph – Tanner Redman
Louis/Billy Webster – Rick Enriquez

Director – Scott Miller
Assistant Director – Jerry McAdams
Set Designer – Justin Barisonek
Lighting Designer – Mark Schilling
Costume Designer – Betsy Krausnick
Sound Designer – Pat Murphy
Props Master – Kimi Short
Box Office Manager – Steve Dohrmann
Graphic Designer – Kris Wright
Photographers – Michael C. Daft, Robert Stevens

Piano – Debbie Bernardoni
Horn – Alison Felter
Reeds – Elsie Parker
Percussion – Adam Kopff

“New Line Theatre’s invigorating and richly rewarding production... is a strong, stirring, delicately textured work of art on its own in this first-rate production.” – Mark Bretz, KDHX-FM

“The ArtLoft has the potential to change with every show. For New Line Theatre’s current production there, Sunday in the Park with George, director Scott Miller and set designer Justin Barisonek exploit that potential with elegance and wit. . . Rarely staged, Sunday is an odd work. Its proportions are unfamiliar; it’s slower and more cerebral than most musicals, and its century-long story arc demands a little patience. But with their apt design and distinctive staging, Miller and Barisonek set a welcoming pace, one that’s a pleasure to keep.” – Judy Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Stephen Sondheim composed his gorgeous score from a palette containing colors of astonishing beauty and texture... New Line’s four-piece band does a Herculean job of conveying the inherent artfulness in this lush score.... Todd Schaefer emanates assurance and authority. In Act II, as Seurat’s great-grandson, he even finds the evening’s underlying conscience.” – The Riverfront Times

In 1994, New Line produced Pippin, a show which had a cast of about twenty on Broadway, but we did it with a cast of nine. In 1996, we did Sweeney Todd, a show which had a cast of thirty on Broadway, but we only used fifteen. We did Camelot in 1999, a show which originally had a cast of about sixty, and we did it with a cast of thirteen. We stripped all three shows of their original spectacle, their fancy sets and costumes, all the distractions that took the focus away from the actors, their characters, and the emotional content of the story. After all, Camelot isn’t about costume parades; it’s about a tragic romantic triangle, overflowing with profound emotion. Pippin isn’t about flashy sets and choreography; it’s about a generation of young people growing up without direction, role models, or hope for the future. It’s about a young man contemplating suicide. Sweeney isn’t about giant sets; Sondheim always said he intended it to be a small chamber musical, with actors popping up from behind audience members. So that’s how we did it.

Why re-imagine these shows? Why stray so far from the original concepts? Because the original productions aren’t always the best way to do a show. In each case, I have believed that the show we were working on was underestimated, that people saw flaws in the works that were more a product of how they were produced, not how they were written. And now, why take such a different approach to Sunday in the Park with George? Not just for the sake of being contrary, I promise. As with the others, Sunday is not about stage effects or about how much the actors can look like a famous painting. It’s about the nature of genius, about the hard work that human relationships require, about the way artists see the world and how they take little, ordinary moments in life and turn them into art.

In this show, the painter George Seurat takes small moments of real life and real people and he arranges them and focuses them, finds the beauty and nobility and order in them, and he molds them into a great painting. These lives may seem like they don’t matter, but they do; they are the stuff from which transcendent art is made. Likewise, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine have taken those same small, ordinary moments and molded them into a work of musical theatre that approaches genius, that won a Pulitzer Prize for drama, that touches audiences in unexpectedly profound ways. Seurat and Sondheim both celebrate the small moments. We are all works of art, they seem to be saying. Our lives are worth preserving forever. But it takes a genius to see the radiance and grandeur in our little lives.

We hope that by stripping away the baggage of Sunday in the Park, you’ll be able to focus more on these characters and their relationships, their emotions and hang-ups, their love and pain, and on this glorious music and these amazing lyrics, to really get inside this world and inside the mind of a genius.

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (2003)

Book by Larry L. King and Peter Masterson
Based on a story by Larry L. King
Music & Lyrics by Carol Hall
June 5-28, 2003
ArtLoft Theatre, St. Louis

Mona Stangley – Deborah Sharn
Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd – Richard Enriquez
Melvin P. Thorpe – Nicholas Kelly
Jewel – Victoria Thomas
Doatsey Mae – Alice Kinsella
The Governor of Texas – Thom Crain
Senator Wingwoah – Chuck Lavazzi

The Ladies of the Chicken Ranch
Durla – Christina Crowe
Dawn – Kim Furlow
Eloise – Heather G'Sell
Linda Lou – Molly McBride
Shy – Taylor Pietz
Ruby Rae – Kimi Short
Angel – Lainie Wade
Beatrice – Jennifer Wells

The People of Gilbert, Texas
Leroy Sliney – Andrew Laudel
Melvin’s Staff – Jeremy Brown, Kimi Short, Chuck Lavazzi
CJ Scruggs – James Bundick
Rufus Poindexter – Alex Foster
Edsel Mackey – Thom Crain
Reporters – Bobby Grosser, Alice Kinsella, Justin LeClaire, Kim Furlow
Ensemble – Jeremy Brown, James Bundick, Christina Crowe, Wayne Easter, Alex Foster, Kim Furlow, Bobby Grosser, Heather G'Sell, Andrew Laudel, Justin LeClaire, Molly McBride, Taylor Pietz, Kimi Short, Lainie Wade, Jennifer Wells, Thomas Witholt

Director – Scott Miller
Choreographer – Robin Berger
Set Designer – Justin Barisonek
Lighting Designer – Jen Goldstein
Costume Designer – Todd Schaefer
Props Master – Kimi Short
Box Office Manager – Steve Dohrmann
Graphic Designer – Kris Wright

Piano – Kad Day
Guitar – Dale Hampton
Bass – Dave Hall
Violin – Jessica Blackwell
Percussion – Mike Major

“New Line Theatre’s production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas ultimately provides not only marvelous music and dance but substantial food for thought.” – Deanna Jent, The Riverfront Times

“[Director Scott] Miller, who loves musical comedy, chooses to emphasize the musical over the comic in this production. . . But, having made his decision, he executes it with care and intelligence, delivering a production with charms of its own.” – Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Remember when we found out Monica Lewinsky had been servicing Bill Clinton in the Oval Office? Remember how outraged people were? Remember the months of hearings about it? Remember when Kenneth Starr published the transcripts, which were put in book stores and became bestsellers? If it was all so distasteful, why were all the lurid details in our book stores? Why did every single newscast every night revisit the sorry affair?

Because Americans are moral and sexual hypocrites, most of us. Even though of us who don’t think we are probably really are, deep down. Americans are terrified of sex. We don’t want to talk about it, don’t want to know about it, don’t want to think about it. Many Americans would probably prefer we all just pretend nobody ever has sex.

At the same time, we’re obsessed with it. We’re constantly talking about it, thinking about it, writing about it. If we weren’t, no one would know who Monica Lewinsky is. Pornography is one of America’s biggest industries. Everyone claims it’s disgusting and immoral, that they would never ever buy or even look at porn. But somebody’s buying it. A lot of it. If it’s not you, it’s probably the person sitting next to you. It certainly wouldn’t be going out on too shaky a limb to suggest that Americans have a distinctly unhealthy and often genuinely comic relationship with sexuality, both their own and that of others.

And that’s what The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is about. Not sex itself, but the terror, hypocrisy, and insanity always swirling around sex in America. The Chicken Ranch had been operating, with the full knowledge of most of the inhabitants of Texas, since the late 1800s. A few politicians over the years had made political points railing against it. But the furor never lasted for long and the Chicken Ranch kept its doors open.

Until 1973, when a little known television reporter, recently fired from the Harris Country sheriff’s department, decided to put the Chicken Ranch on TV. Until then it had been an open secret, an accepted, or at least tolerated, institution, part of the state’s peculiar culture and history. But putting real life on TV always changes it, and once this television reporter sent his exaggerations and misrepresentations out over the public airwaves, everything changed. Rational men became raving idiots. After more than a hundred years, the Chicken Ranch was now a very public and very “dangerous” problem that needed Action taken against it. And in the process, people’s lives were ruined.

The real beauty and intelligence of this show can be seen in the way it pushes its social and political satire to the background, focusing primarily on the real people whose real lives were greatly complicated and in some cases destroyed by the televised circus masquerading as news. These are simple people leading simple lives in 1973, back before “reality TV” had become a parody of itself, back when television was still mysterious in many ways to most Americans, back when its awesome power was only just being discovered.

Back before moral hypocrisy had become the national pastime.

Any grab for power or attention – or ratings – usually leaves victims in its wake. Their story is the one we tell tonight.

Bat Boy (2003)

Book by Keythe Farley & Brian Flemming
Music & Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe
Licensed under agreement with Weekly World News
March 6-29, 2003
ArtLoft Theatre, St. Louis

Edgar – Todd Schaefer
Dr. Thomas Parker – Jason Cannon
Shelley Parker – April Lindsey
Meredith Parker – Deborah Sharn
Sheriff Reynolds – Brian Claussen
Mayor Maggie/Ron – Stephanie Brown
Deputy Bud/Daisy/King of the Forest – Colin DeVaughan
Mrs. Taylor/Rev. Hightower/Roy – Nicholas Kelly
Rick/Lorraine – Jeffrey Pruett
Ruthie/Ned/Impassioned Female Soloist – Angela Shultz

Director – Scott Miller
Costume Designer – Betsy Krausnick
Set Designer – Justin Barisonek
Lighting Designer – Jessica Carter
Props Master – Kimi Short
Specialty Props Designer – Pat Edmonds
Box Office Manager – Steve Dohrmann
Graphic Designer – Kris Wright
Photographer – Robert Stevens

Piano – Kad Day
Guitar – Mike Renard
Bass – Dave Hall
Percussion – Adam J. Kopff

“So weird. So smart. So shocking. So entertaining. Bat Boy, a hit off-Broadway, has found a worthy roost at New Line Theatre, where artistic director Scott Miller has spent 12 years honing a taste for musicals with just those characteristics. . . this show is in a class by itself – and New Line’s confident production lets it stand on its own webbed feet.” – Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Bat Boy: The Musical has everything anyone needs for a great night of theater: sex, laughs, music, drama and dead cows. . . New Line Theatre’s production of Bat Boy The Musical is profoundly theatrical, asking audience members to imaginatively participate in an unexpected journey that’s thrilling, scary, funny and thought-provoking.” – Deanna Jent, Riverfront Times

“Splendid fun. Todd Schaefer is dazzling in the title role, acting and singing and well, and dominating the stage. April Lindsey, Jason Cannon and Deborah Sharn stand out as his “family,” and the rest of the cast, in a wild variety of roles, costumes and genders, bring West Virginia to madcap life.” – Joe Pollack, KWMU-FM

“This production works on many levels thanks to the exuberant cast. Todd Schaefer is spectacular in the title role.” – Sheila Schultz, KDHX-FM

“One of the best musical theatre scores I’ve heard recently. Miller and New Line never do shows that waste either their time or ours.” – Bob Wilcox, West End Word

We knew we had something special when, one day in rehearsal a few weeks ago, we finished the finale and a couple of us had tears in our eyes. We had just run through this genuinely wacky show about a half-boy/half-bat and his quest for love and acceptance among the coal-miners-turned-inept-cattle-farmers of Hope Falls, West Virginia, a musical based on a Weekly World News story, of all things, and we were somehow deeply moved by it all.

But when I saw Bat Boy the first time in New York, I had the same experience. I walked out of the theatre wondering how, amidst all that craziness and bizarre comedy, the authors had gotten me to care about the bat boy. It was one of the funniest shows I had ever seen, and it was also deeply emotional. It was outrageous, sweet, satiric, gentle, smart, innocent, touching, hilarious, a little sad, adjectives that didn’t seem to go together, and yet somehow it formed a perfect evening of theatre. The rowdy satire of “Another Dead Cow” and the gentle kindness of “A Home for You” somehow co-existed beautifully in this strange world the creators had wrought.

I knew that night as I walked home that I had to get the rights to produce this show. It was everything New Line is about. It was about important social issues, it was smart, and it had one of the strongest scores I’d heard in years (which gets the credit for a lot of the emotional impact of the show), but more important than that was its brand of storytelling.

Bat Boy is all about imagination. It demands a great deal of its audience. It asks them to forego the high tech trivialities of most current Broadway shows. It asks them to directly participate in the experience of live theatre by believing in the characters and story without realistic sets and costumes, without special effects, without helicopters or chandeliers, without a budget equal to that of a small town.

In Act II, the King of the Forest sings, “Children, welcome home, to where we all began,” words that not only invite the young lovers back to the roots of humanity, but they also invite the audience back to the roots of theatre, back to Grotwoski’s “poor theatre,” where it’s all about the storytelling, about the one-of-a-kind experience of live actors and a live audience sharing a story. Nothing else is necessary.

Maybe Bat Boy's greatest strength is that though it’s about important issues, it never bludgeons the audience with them (though, as you may know from Anyone Can Whistle, we’re not entirely opposed to bludgeoning now and then). I’ve often said I believe theatre to be potentially one of the most powerful forces for change in America, because it can address issues without an audience noticing. It can get people thinking without them realizing what’s happening. It’s sneaky that way. Kinda like a hopped-up kid creeping up on a defenseless little bat boy in a cave. But I digress…

We hope you enjoy getting to know the bat boy tonight as much as we have enjoyed it. He might have fangs, big pointy ears, and an unfortunate taste for fresh blood, but the world could use a few more like him.

A New Line Cabaret II: Attack of the Show Tunes (2003)

a world premiere revue
featuring songs from Songs for a New World, Metropolis, The Wild Party, Little Shop of Horrors, The Last Five Years, Follies, Urban Myths, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Robber Bridegroom, Man of La Mancha, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Nine, The Baker's Wife, Guys and Dolls, and other shows
January 6-7, 2003
Sheldon Concert Hall

THE CASTChris Brenner
Colin DeVaughan
Keith Hale
Ken Haller
Alison Helmer
Lisa Karpowicz
Robb Kennedy
Patrick Kerwin
Alice Kinsella
April Lindsey
Mo Monahan
Jeffrey Pruett
John Rhine
Todd Schaefer
Deborah Sharn
Kimi Short
Angela Shultz

THE ARTISTIC STAFFDirector - Scott Miller

“We’re fortunate to have a professional company in St. Louis willing to take creative risks and facilitate the reshaping of audience tastes.” – Sheila Schultz, KDHX-FM