We've started work on Love Kills, the new rock musical by Kyle Jarrow, about Charlie Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate, two teenage spree killers in 1958 Nebraska who murdered eleven people before being caught. It's an incredible piece of theatre, powerful, disturbing, riveting, wildly original, and with just four actors.
The show was done for six performances at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2007, but we're the first ones to do a fully produced run. It's always so much fun to do a new piece, especially when we're in contact with the author (who I think will be flying in to see it) and Kyle is really open to our ideas, our questions, etc. He's really terrific. (And he's currently working on a new project with Duncan Sheik, the composer of Spring Awakening.)
We have a great cast -- Philip Leveling (who played the Bosun in Return to the Forbidden Planet) as Charlie; Taylor Pietz (who did Best Little Whorehouse with us in 2003) as Caril Ann; Zak Farmer (who's been in every New Line show since summer 2007, except for Spelling Bee) as Sheriff Merle Karnopp; and Alison Helmer (our Yvonne in Sunday in the Park and Emma Goldman in Assassins) as Gertrude Karnopp.
What first grabbed me about this show was the score -- an exciting, rowdy, visceral rock score (Kyle calls it emo), sometimes 50s doo-wop, sometimes really hard rock, sometimes emo/glam rock ballads -- but make no mistake, this is not Broadway rock, this is real rock and roll.
But what really sold me is Kyle's incredibly smart, raw, complex, subtle script -- less about the murders than about these damaged, emotionally disconnected people. Like Assassins, you come away realizing (to your horror) that these murderers aren't all that different from you and me; and like Assassins, the show doesn't really judge Charlie and Caril, which is so deliciously unsettling...
One of the weird things about the show for me is that there's no piano in the band -- it's just guitar, bass, and drums. Which means there's no piano score! So in rehearsal, I have to play from a guitar score and do my best to imitate on the piano what the guitar will be doing later. It's not the first time -- I had to do the same with Hedwig -- but it's really different for me. Still, I'm getting the hang of it...
I realized a while back that what New Line does best -- and what our audiences love most -- are those shows that are sui generis, that are their own genre, their own style, their own sound. We've done so many shows that are unlike anything else you've ever seen -- Bat Boy, Urinetown, Return to the Forbidden Planet, Rocky Horror, Hedwig, Spelling Bee, Assassins, The Cradle Will Rock, A New Brain, Hair, High Fidelity, Jacques Brel, Songs for a New World, March of the Falsettos, The Nervous Set, Sunday in the Park, Floyd Collins... and now, Love Kills. I could list more -- the vast majority of the shows we've produced fit into this category...
And I think that's the primary reason we just finished the most financially and critically successful season we've had in 18 years -- despite the tough times!
As with most of our shows, I just can't wait to share this awesome show with our audiences. I know people are going to be blown away by the power and honesty and emotion of it. And I bet we'll have lots of repeat customers again, just like we did for all three shows this past season.
I love my job.
Long Live the Musical!