Rock Trib 2

I just watched a videotape of New Line's very first show back in 1992, a revue I put together called "A Tribute to the Rock Musicals 2." Why "2," you ask? Because I had already done a "Rock Trib 1" with CenterStage Theatre Company, and so though it was New Line's first show, it was my second "Rock Trib."

What a trip to see that show again! (Shhh, don't tell anyone we videotaped it!) I remember at the time getting a lot of attention for it. We got one review, from The Riverfront Times, and it was really positive, not quite a rave, but not far off...

Now watching it 16 1/2 years later, there are a few cringey parts and a lot of brilliant parts, most notably the entire (well, almost) 17-minute Montage ("Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen") from A Chorus Line. It was fun seeing a whole bunch of people I haven't seen in years, some of them in New York, others who knows where...

The most interesting part of the show to me was seeing me stretch my conceptual muscles as a director. I had directed several shows with CenterStage, but none in which I could really experiment. So I tried a shitload of experiments in this show. So many of the tools I use now I can see myself trying them out for the first time in this show. I had never before had complete artistic freedom to do anything I wanted. Some of my experiments didn't totally work; others totally worked.

The funniest thing to me was the show itself. It was less a revue and more a lecture-demonstration. I'm not kidding, it was a lecture on the history of rock musicals. There was actually a "professor" at a podium lecturing between songs. How the hell did I get away with that? But the audience loved it. Watching the video, there's virtually no coughing, rustling, talking, etc. The audience is totally tuned in. Part of that is because the musical numbers had an incredible energy about them, a lot like our much later productions of Bat Boy, The Robber Bridegroom, March of the Falsettos, Assassins. The Riverfront Times review said the cast was "impressively – sometimes overwhelmingly – enthusiastic, talented, skilled, and well-trained."

As that review suggests, the best part of the show was the voices! Jesus, how did we get that lucky on our first show? Almost everyone in the cast had an amazing voice and real control of it. The power ballads rocked. It was one of those shows where the audience actually cheered after some of the songs. What a cool way to start a company like New Line... Sorta like a statement of purpose...

Yup, it's fun to revisit the roots.

Long Live the Musical!