A Tribute to the Dark Side (1993)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

– Johanna Schloss, cast member

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

– Dan Sattel, cast member

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

--Scott Miller, director

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