We're Lucky to Be Us

Still working on funding applications for next season... Part of that process is asking people in our community to write "letters of support" about how cool New Line is, to include with our applications.

This year, the three support letters we'll be including in our applications are so heartfelt and so complimentary, that I have to share them with you. One letter is from Kyle Jarrow, writer-composer of the brilliant rock musical Love Kills, which New Line produced in 2009. The second is from Jake Fruend, college student and former New Line intern. And the third letter is from Larry Quiggins, the head of the theatre department at Lindenwood University. I think you'll see why I wanted to post these...

To Whom It May Concern:

I love New Line Theatre. Not just because they did a great production of one of my plays — not just because Scott Miller is one of the most thoughtful, passionate and engaged artistic directors I’ve ever interacted with — but because New Line Theatre is saving the Musical. The musical is one of the most iconic American popular art forms. And yet, it’s struggling to stay relevant. As I see it, this is the result of a number of factors: ticket prices rising, the average age of theatergoers rising, as well as the commercial pressures that bring more and more unnecessary film adaptations to Broadway. For the next generation of audience, for whom theater is competing with film and television and video game systems, it’s not surprising that musicals often don’t feel like a very good investment of time and money.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. A great piece of musical theater can have incredible power. Music has the ability to drill straight into our emotional cores, to elevate drama in a profound way. New Line Theatre understands this. From my discussions with Scott, it’s clear that his company approaches musicals as drama — committed to digging deep to excavate the best in the works his company chooses to produce. In every production, they work to prove why the musical form is important. They demonstrate why this form deserves to live on, and why it deserves to evolve with the times.

I don’t know of any other theater that does the kind of programming that New Line does. They take chances on new, cutting-edge works. They revisit quality shows that flopped on Broadway but deserve another look. And they do game-changing reinterpretations of classics. It’s a varied, exciting mission, and I’m honored to have been included in it. I very much hope to be again. New Line deserves your fullest support. What they’re doing is truly important.

All the best,
Kyle Jarrow
New York, NY

To Whom It May Concern,

There are days — many, in fact — when I wake up in my full-size bed, blocks away from Wrigley Field on the southern bit of Chicago’s north side, and think, “Do I really want to call myself an artist today?”

The answer, more often than not, is an unyielding and resounding, “No.”

It is easy to run away from the challenges presented to the theatre artist. The pressure to connect with every viewer on a philosophical and sometimes political level can be intimidating. However, there are a few individual performers, directors, designers, and companies that can embrace the challenge, embrace the work, and create something sincerely unique and inspiring. St. Louis’s own New Line Theatre is one of those companies. And I firmly believe that my artistic education truly began with my introduction to New Line and the work of its artistic director Scott Miller.

I really came into contact with New Line’s core ideas when I was given the opportunity to work as assistant director for their 2010 production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Evita. Through the application of Brechtian dramaturgical principles — stop me if I’m talking too fast — which have for too long eluded the musical theatre form, Scott is able to transform these classic, sometimes stale pieces into charmingly funny, provocative, volatile, socially and politically relevant works of living, breathing art.

At a New Line show, we are not presented with a casually frivolous stroll through the musical days of yesteryear. Instead, we are invited to take part in a musical reflection of where we, as a society both political and theatrical, are collectively headed.

New Line also supports St. Louis’s aspiring young artists by offering a musical theatre scholarship each year to a graduating high school senior. I was the first student ever to receive this gift in 2009, and I suspect that New Line’s generosity is partially to blame for my journey to this city that I now lovingly call my home.

Mr. Miller talks a lot (in his books, on his blog, and in his exhaustive program notes) about a “new golden age of musical theatre” happening right here, right now. I believe that this golden age can never really be experienced in a Broadway theater. Instead, it can be found in cities like Chicago and St. Louis, Seattle and Minneapolis, in basements and storefronts, on the streets, in classrooms, and bathtubs all across this country. Musical theatre is returning to the people. New Line has been leading this charge for nearly 21 years now, and they’ve been changing the lives and opening the eyes of young artists for just as long.

So it is with a grateful heart, a sometimes artistically reluctant mind, and absolutely no shame that I ask you to give generously to this unquestionably authentic force for good. Because this morning, thanks to New Line Theatre, I am proud to call myself an artist, an advocate, and an ambassador to Chicago for the brilliant theatre of St. Louis.

Jake Fruend
college student

To Whom It May Concern,

I have been a supporter and patron of New Line Theatre for the last 16 years. I have found that New Line is the most diverse and entertaining theatre company that St. Louis has to offer. Season after season, New Line produces cutting-edge productions that fascinate, shock, move, and put their audiences in awe. These are productions that make the audience think and leave them wanting to come back and experience more.

Some of the past New Line shows that should be highlighted are The Nervous Set, Reefer Madness, Kiss of The Spider Woman, Return to Forbidden Planet,  The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee, Bat Boy, Hair, and Man of La Mancha. The talent that performs in New Line productions is always the best that St. Louis has to offer. New Line Theatre is affectionately nicknamed "The Bad Boy of Musical Theatre" for its cutting edge productions but I think of the company as "The Cool Kids of Musical Theatre." 

St. Louis is blessed to have such a wonderful and professional theatre company housed in its city and those who support the arts should line up and help New Line to continue to bring their excellent brand of theatre to St. Louis.

Larry D. Quiggins
Associate Dean of Fine and Performing Arts
Director of Theatre
Lindenwood University

It's so wonderful for me to read letters like these and know that everything we aim to accomplish we are actually accomplishing: bringing St. Louis works of theatre and a performance style that no other company attempts, educating the next generation of musical theatre artists, supporting the musical theatre writers who are taking great risks and writing breathtakingly original musicals, and letting New York and the whole country know that St. Louis is the place where new, vibrant, exciting work in the musical theatre is being done by committed, talented artists at the top of their game, unfettered by the soul-crushing market forces of commercial theatre. (Can you tell I feel strongly about this?)

Like those we serve, New Line is unique. And that's why we're given production rights to cool shows like Love Kills, She's Hideous, High Fidelity, Cry-Baby, and others. Writers trust New Line. They know we're on their side and we have no desire to "leave our mark" on their work. We're just here to tell these amazing, funny, emotional stories as clearly, as truthfully, and as faithfully to the writers' intentions as possible.

I'm so proud of all the work we've done in the last twenty years, and of all the work to come...

Long Live the Musical!


Colin DeVaughan | January 28, 2012 at 3:37 PM

Wow - great letters, Scott! It's always a good feeling to see that others have been as profoundly affected by their exposure to New Line as I have. Thanks for all you have done, and all you are continuing to do for St. Louis.