Make Me Feel I'm Glad I Came

More reviews have come in -- some of them real raves...

“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,

“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

A couple of the reviews have criticized the show for being too tame. Wilcox said it "registers low on the racy scale." Gerry Kowarsky said it "stops short" of fully exploring its topic. I've seen similar criticisms in reviews of other productions. And while I think it's true, I also think it's the whole point of the show! After all, the four central characters also stop short of fully exploring their "multiple love experience."

It's kinda like criticizing Urinetown for being too sarcastic.

There's a line in the Act II opener that always struck me: "Though it's sexy, it's a family show." That's a joke, but it's almost true. We realized as we worked on this show that it contains only one "dirty" word (titties), and not a single shit or fuck. What some reviewers don't understand is that this story isn't really about sex or the Sexual Revolution. It uses the Sexual Revolution as context and uses this sexual encounter as a plot device, but it's really about the world outside the Sexual Revolution, a world of relative normalcy, in which most people will never be sexually adventurous and don't want to be. The Rocky Horror Show is about sex; I Love My Wife is about how life isn't about sex.

As we well know at New Line, when sex is the topic of a story, everyone expects that sexual/moral transgression is the agenda, as it is with Rocky Horror, Hedwig, Wild Party, etc. But here is the rare story in which the characters try to make sex the topic but realize that's a mistake. It took us a while to realize that the opening song has literally nothing at all to do with sex, and the finale only marginally has to do with sex, and that's when we understood that this isn't a show about sex. Judy Newmark and Chris Gibson both understood this in their reviews.

This also explains one of my favorite lines, when Alvin and Cleo are arguing about whether to get a man or women to join them, and he blurts out, "Sex has nothing to do with it!" Again, it's a joke, but the show is telling us outright that this is a show not about sexual intercourse, but about relationships being tested by massive cultural change -- almost exactly the central theme of Fiddler on the Roof...

I just got this image in my head of Tevye, Golde, Lazar Wolf, and Yente all trying to follow a diagram in The Joy of Sex. I'll never be able to watch Fiddler on the Roof again...

Long Live the Musical!