They Like Us, They Really Like Us!

It's that time of year when several of the local theatre reviewers look back on the calendar year and assess the best of the year. As always, New Line has gotten several great mentions...

Judy Newmark in her annual "Judy Awards" for the Post-Dispatch honored us twice -- she named me the Best Director of a Musical for Evita; and also named Joel Hackbarth, Troy Turnipseed, and Zak Farmner the Best Specialty Act of the year for their hilarious Greek Chorus in I Love My Wife. Very cool.

Mark Bretz in The Ladue News published his 2010 Year in Review list, and TWO of the shows he cited were New Line shows, both The Wild Party and Evita. About the first show, Bretz wrote, "New Line Theatre artistic director Scott Miller presented a provocative and compelling version of a show titled The Wild Party that had indifferent success off-Broadway in the 1999-2000 season, based on a narrative poem by Joseph Moncure March about an abusive clown and a showgirl dancer caught in their own fatal attraction in the waning moments of vaudeville, with masterful performances by Jeffrey Pruett and Deborah Sharn."

He wrote about Evita, "With posters of modern political figures framing his production, New Line artistic director Scott Miller reminded everyone what an invigorating and provocative work this musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice still can be. Drawing uncomfortable parallels between charismatic politicians and easily swayed followers, New Line’s rendition featured a sizzling performance by John Sparger as the revolutionary Che, a deliberately toned-down Todd Schaefer as Argentinian dictator Juan Peron and Taylor Pietz displaying a beautiful voice and haunting presence as Peron’s mistress-turned-wife Eva Peron. With the crisp accompaniment of the New Line band conducted by Chris Peterson, Miller’s Evita was visceral, raucous and always entertaining."

On the BroadwayWorld site, Chris Gibson also honored two New Line shows in his Top Ten of 2010 list. He wrote about The Wild Party, "If there's any group capable of generating similar sparks it's New Line Theatre, and their dark and decadent production of Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party blew me away. Scott Miller's impeccable direction, as well as his sharp work on the ivories pounding out this genre-hopping blend of space age bachelor pad music and cool jazz, brought this black comedy to life in fine fashion. Jeffrey Pruett's performance as the scary clown named Burrs was especially memorable."

Gibson wrote about Evita, "While some might view a presentation of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita as a safe choice, New Line Theatre's incendiary production was anything but, infusing this modern classic with a rock and roll edge that served the material particularly well. Taylor Pietz (Eva Peron), Todd Schaefer (Juan Peron) and John Sparger (Che) do stunning work under Scott Miller's direction, neatly bringing these characters to life with a genuine sense of enthusiasm and energy that I've found lacking in other productions. This stripped-down, rocking rendition of Evita was truly inspired."

We never get mentioned in The Riverfront Times at this time of year because six years ago we banned the RFT's senior critic from our shows (if you wanna know why, I'll tell you, but not here). Sometimes their other reviewer Paul Friswold comes to our show and reviews us, but he doesn't get to see everything. Still, in the RFT's year-end wrap-up, Friswold wrote, "As for anticipation, I eagerly await New Line Theatre's season announcement every year. Scott Miller is another artistic director who seeks the new while paying attention to the canon, although his canon may be not be for everyone. Kyle Jarrow's Love Kills is one of the most heart-wrenching love stories I've enjoyed; it just happens to be about two spree killers. Ah, romance! I'm already excited for Cry-Baby and the return of High Fidelity."

It's so cool to be able to do the kind of alternative work we do and have it embraced so fully by both local audiences and local theatre critics. I love working in St. Louis.

Long Live the Musical!