I Love My Wife (2010)

Book and Lyrics by Michael Stewart
Music by Cy Coleman
September 30-October 23, 2010
Washington University South Campus Theatre
Show Webpage
Production Photos

Alvin – Todd Schaefer
Cleo – Emily Berry
Wally – Jeffrey M. Wright
Monica – Sarah Armstrong
Harvey – Zachary Allen Farmer
Quentin – Troy Turnipseed
Stanley – Joel Hackbarth

Director – Scott Miller
Assistant Director – Alison Helmer
Costume Designer – Thom Crain
Scenic Designer – Todd Schaefer
Lighting Designer – Kenneth Zinkl
Stage Manager/Props Master – Trisha Bakula
House Manager – Ann Stinebaker
Box Office Manager – Vicki Herrmann
Lighting Technician – Trisha Bakula
Graphic Designer – Matt Reedy
Photographer – Jill Ritter Lindberg

Piano/Conductor – Justin Smolik
Keyboard – Sue Goldford
Bass – Dave Hall
Guitar/Banjo – Michael Mason
Percussion – Clancy Newell

“New Line Theater bows I Love My Wife, an often hilarious musical spoof of the so-called ‘free love’ era and how two married couples discover the truth about ‘four play.’ New Line Theatre always does great work. When they perform, you’re always up close and personal. Sometimes the performers are only three to four feet from where you’re sitting, so you really get involved in the show. I Love My Wife also happens to be a very funny show. . . enjoyable and a nice start to New Line’s 20th season.” – Harry Hamm, KMOX

“New Line, the little cutting-edge theater that could, is opening its 20th season with I Love My Wife. . . Leave it to Miller to rediscover this little gem. I Love My Wife turns out to be a clever, musically sophisticated and ultimately sweet show, intimate in every sense of the word. . . New Line has done well with Hair, which it has mounted several times. It’s also staged strong productions of Grease and Chicago, the beat musical The Nervous Set, the slacker musical High Fidelity and Return to the Forbidden Planet, set either in the 1950s or the future, maybe both. Put them all together, and it's an era-by-era look at changing American mores. Miller’s anthropological twist on musical theater gives New Line a distinctive point of view, brainy and bold. I Love My Wife is an apt addition to that repertoire.” – Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“The swingin’ 70s were a nonstop, hedonistic thrill ride. Marriages were open, key parties were de rigueur, love was American Style – everybody got laid all the time and twice on Sunday. But all revolutions come to an end, especially sexual ones. The Michael Stewart and Cy Coleman musical I Love My Wife takes you back to the final spurts of the musky 70s with a jazzy tale of wife-swapping, sex and romance, and explores how maybe all that free love came with a hidden cost – and we ain’t talkin’ about herpes.” – Paul Friswold, The Riverfront Times

“This is a production that nobody who cares about musical theatre should miss, because if there ever is another local production, the passionate advocacy of the current production will be hard to match.” – Gerry Kowarsky, Two on the Aisle

“With their funky and fun production of I Love My Wife, New Line Theatre begins their 20th season with a trip back to the swinging seventies, when the last dying embers of the sexual revolution were still smoldering in the suburbs. It was a time when collars were broad, chests were hairy, and polyester was the fabric of choice. And though the obvious reference point for some might be Paul Mazursky's 1969 film Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, the two are actually quite dissimilar, except for the fact that two couples wind up sharing the same bed. But, I Love My Wife is more concerned with friendships and making connections. New Line's presentation of this perfectly charming adult comedy is superbly cast and directed, and well worth your time and attention.” – Chris Gibson, BroadwayWorld.com

“Those who lived through the 1970s will nod familiarly at most of the lines and lyrics in I Love My Wife. Those too young to remember will understand why certain styles, certain moments, certain memories will bring goofy looks to their parents’ faces. . . but it's an accurate view – and spoof – of an era that generated a movie called Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, that still was enjoying the drug culture and sexual freedom that started in the 1960s. . . The tale of a husband’s desire to join the sexual revolution he fears has begun without him, using his friend’s wife to help him get up to date, is bright and tuneful, well-paced under Scott Miller’s on-point direction. . . It’s powerful, and it’s fun.” – Joe Pollack, St. Louis Eats and Drinks

“Top-notch performances highlight this New Line production . . . I Love My Wife is a nifty little musical that is given a first-rate production by the folks at New Line Theatre. Because of the subject matter, I would consider it adults only but you’ll have a lot of fun and a lot of laughs at this one.” – Steve Allen, Java Journal

“Interesting and hilarious. Now, it's not as though there's a detailed plot for this show, but under Scott Miller and Alison Helmer’s direction, watching it all unfold and seeing how these individuals respond to the opportunity is an entertaining ride, well worth the price of admission. This show may be set in the 70s, but the themes are still relevant.” – Andrea Torrence, St. Louis Theatre Snob

“New Line Theatre jazzes up I Love My Wife. . . Having showcased their badness with Love Kills and The Wild Party, Scott Miller and his New Line Theatre, self-christened the Bad Boy of Musical Theatre, have decided to back off and just be a little naughty with their current offering.” – Bob Wilcox, KDHX

It’s 1977. There’s no internet. No cell phones. No cable TV. Only three networks. And America is having a nervous breakdown.

I Love My Wife is a sex farce. But it’s also a lot more. This is a story about searching for meaningful human connection in the midst of massive cultural change, a theme as relevant now as it was thirty years ago. There were several musicals in the 1970s that were about this – Company, Follies, Pippin, The Me Nobody Knows, The Rocky Horror Show, A Little Night Music, Mack and Mabel, Runaways, and others.

I think this show is telling us that as fun as Free Love might have sounded, as exciting as the Sexual Revolution might have seemed, those were dangerous times emotionally, and only a really solid relationship, like a good marriage or a lifelong friendship, could be sturdy enough to get you through it. The 1970s were wild waters to navigate. It was only allegory in Rocky Horror but it was true in real life – the Sexual Revolution wore people out and left them feeling empty and alone.

By the end of the decade, Cosmopolitan magazine reported that “so many readers wrote negatively about the Sexual Revolution – expressing longings for vanished intimacy and the now elusive joys of romance and commitment – that we began to sense there might be a sexual counter-revolution under way in America.” In 1982, New York magazine published an article called, “Is Sex Dead?” Esquire published “The End of Sex,” which said, “As it turned out, the Sexual Revolution, in slaying some loathsome old dragons, has created some formidable new ones.”

Musicals are about emotion, but in this show (as in Company) most of the emotions are suppressed, hiding out in the subtext of the dialogue. These characters often say one thing and mean another. They fight about one thing but they’re really fighting about something else. Likewise, most of the songs don’t reveal character as much as provide social and historical context.

Working on this show is unusually interesting for me because I was born in 1964, right on the cusp between the Boomers and Generation X, and I want to understand the culture that shaped me as a child. I remember the 70s, but only from a kid’s perspective. So it’s been a lot of fun for me to rediscover this crazed decade and to understand the culture I remember, now from an adult point of view. I loved The Mary Tyler Moore Show when I was a kid, but now I understand how precisely it tapped into the cultural zeitgeist and how remarkably bold its statement about women was. It was a fascinating, disorienting time in our history.

Of course, we live in times just as turbulent now. Maybe if we take another look back we can understand where we are today.