I've been thinking about something Judy Newmark wrote in her review of I Love My Wife in the Post-Dispatch: “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.”
As you can imagine, I love that.
And it got me thinking. I really am fascinated personally by 20th century American political and cultural history. I absolutely love America, in a serious, clear-eyed way Sarah Palin and her ilk could never understand. I love its messiness and rowdinesws, its heroes and villains, its hangups and its balls, its triumphs and misstpes and the slow but continal stumbling ever forward. As gloomy and doomy as everyone seems to be these days, I see nothing but an admittedly rocky transition into an amazing, new, interconnected world that this country of ours will come out on top of. We've never been stymied by change -- we use it. All the rules are changing and that scares everybody, but that's been happening to our country for our entire history -- you can see it in the stories we tell at New Line -- and we always weather the storm. Maybe that's why The Times don't scare me. I know, from the stories we've been telling all these years, that America is always going through these wrenching changes in one way or another. Every bit as much right now as in 1977 when I Love My Wife is set.
And that change is inherently dramatic.
It wasn't until recently that I realized how much all that is part of New Line's identity. Judy's right. We are telling the story of America in the 20th century, literally the good, the bad, and the ugly. We got a socio-political overview from Assassins, which covers more than a century of American history (and which we've produced three times). But there are so many other shows that tell our story. In a few cases, they explore America through metaphor, as with Cabaret, Man of La Mancha, and Pippin.
1920s – Chicago, Floyd Collins, The Wild Party
1930s – The Cradle Will Rock
1940s – Reefer Madness
1950s – The Nervous Set, Love Kills, Forbidden Planet, Grease
1960s – Anyone Can Whistle, Hair, Cabaret, Man of La Mancha
1970s – Company, Pippin, Rocky Horror, Best Little Whorehouse, I Love My Wife
1980s – High Fidelity, The Ballad of Little Mikey
1990s – Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Songs for a New World
2000s – bare
And we've even explored our nation's psycho-sexual roots in the 1790s, with The Robber Bridegroom...
Very cool. I love our company.
Long Live the Musical!