"New Line Theatre is Saving the Musical."

New Line will soon start our 28th season. And I'm feeling more optimistic right now than I have in a long time. We have some long overdue good fiscal news...!

Believe me, this has never been an easy journey. I knew that when I started the company in 1991, but knowing it doesn't make it any easier. Throughout most of our history, we've generally stayed on an even keel fiscally -- one season might end in the hole a few hundred dollars, or less often, a few thousand, but the next season would always compensate. Only once were we in real fiscal trouble, after we had to close an already badly selling run early, due to a death in the New Line family. But the Regional Arts Commission stepped in with a loan, and within a year, we had corrected the imbalance and repaid the loan.

That was the only time, until a couple years ago.

Suddenly, for various reasons, we lost two big donors, a foundation grant, and then we were hit with the indignity of getting zero-funded by the Regional Arts Commission (under new management) after twenty-seven years of funding. More than fifty local organizations were similarly cut off by RAC for the coming season. So since 2016, we have been struggling mightily and we've completely retooled our budget, reducing it by about a third. But still we soldier on, and all this time we've have had amazing support, incredible loyalty, and venders with the patience of Job.

And now, I'm extremely happy to report that our 2017-2018 season ended with a surplus for the first time in three years, and two-thirds of our debt has been erased. If the season ahead sells half as well as we expect, we'll soon retire the rest of our debt.

I would be remiss if I didn't point out at this time that donations made before our fiscal year ends on August 31, can make that surplus even bigger and put us in an even better position as the new season begins! (hint, hint)

I make that pitch because New Line needs to replace that funding we lost. So we need to step up our fundraising efforts, and we hope all our supporters and fans will help us with these increased efforts. Ticket sales cover only about 40-45% of our budget. The rest is grants and donations. (Here's a post of mine that explains why nonprofits work this way.)

You can make a donation right now by clicking here. You're welcome.

And let me make a pitch to my readers who don't live in St. Louis about why you should still support New Line. For much of our history, New Line has been the only company in the country producing only alternative musical theatre. Today, we're thrilled that small companies around the country now frequently do the kind of work New Line does. But New Line is still unique in our ability to bring back to life shows that were ill-served and left for dead in New York, and to bring national attention to weird, lesser known, but brilliant shows, like Night of the Living Dead and Bukowsical.

Our art form, the American musical theatre, is in a new Golden Age, and New Line is one of the forces moving us forward. But don't just take my word for it...

Broadway composer-lyricist-bookwriter Kyle Jarrow says:
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.

Broadway composer-lyricist Amanda Green says:
I have had the honor and pleasure of having two of my shows produced at New Line Theater: High Fidelity (twice!) and Hands on a Hardbody.

New Line was the first theater to produce High Fidelity after its brief run on Broadway. I went with trepidation. I came away floored by the intelligence, scrappy fun, big heart, talent of the actors and acumen of the production. It was a reclaiming to me of the show I wrote and loved, produced in the right spirit. Led by Scott Miller, New Line proves you can do a lot with a little. In a way, this production was more satisfyingly right to me than the Broadway production – and got to the heart and humor of the story.

I knew as soon as I walked into New Line’s production of Hands on a Hardbody in 2015, that once again, Scott ‘got’ the material and it was in excellent hands. Entertaining, funny, deeply moving, performed in an intimate space, with a supremely talented cast. Scott’s masterful understanding of the show, and ability to draw the audience in, made for another transformative experience.

I know I’m not alone in being a Broadway professional who holds New Line Theater in high regard: Ann Harada (Avenue Q), Stephen Sondheim (!) and a host of others count themselves vocal fans and supporters.

I am not only a grateful author, I am a donor to New Line Theater. I believe in Scott Miller’s vision, in the talent, ability, and dedication of this community of actors, designers and audience members he has created. This is what theater is all about: bringing bold new work, undiscovered overlooked work to the community – with intelligence passion and heart Transforming both those who produce it and their audience..

New Line Theater deserves to have a long healthy life in St. Louis.

Broadway producer Jennifer Ashley Tepper (author of the Untold Stories of Broadway series), says, “New Line Theatre is an essential maker of musicals. Their work over the years in bringing worthwhile, lesser known shows to life for the St. Louis community is commendable. I recently saw New Line's production of Yeast Nation and was wholly impressed by the top-notch work of every artist involved. New Line has made it a priority to present challenging, thought-provoking musicals rather than prioritizing shows that happened to be the biggest commercial hits. In that, they are unique among theatre companies. Their integrity and their follow-through over many seasons of great work are extraordinary.”

Broadway actor Ann Harada says, "Their success proves that there's an audience for musicals that might be just a little bit outside the mainstream. Even though everything in life is only for now, I hope these guys are now and forever."

John Waters -- yes, that John Waters -- called us “the coolest theatre in town.” He says, "New Line Theatre can make it work. They know how to make a show biz dollar holler. St. Louis, you're lucky to have this gang. Theatre-goers, put your money where you mouth is!"

American Theatre magazine wrote, in a glowing profile of New Line, "There are edgier theatre companies in the U.S., but it would be hard to find a musicals-only company with programming as consistently provocative or as reluctant to proffer theatrical comfort food. . . But by staging contemporary musicals of wildly varying styles and pedigrees, with attention to detail but minus needless frills in an intimate setting, and by advocating for them tirelessly, even quixotically, Miller is, in his quietly ornery Midwestern way, advancing and reifying the American musical-theatre form as it has come kicking and screaming into the 21st century."

Our own Riverfront Times did a wonderful profile of New Line, writing, "New Line has won a national reputation not just for launching new productions, but for saving shows that have been savaged on Broadway."

We New Liners have been ridiculously blessed over the years to have the kind of support we enjoy from our community. My friends running theatres in other cities are very jealous. But we have to do better in our fundraising efforts to keep our company healthy, and we hope you'll all help us. Think about making a donation before the end of August -- it would help us immensely.

And don't forget, season tickets are still on sale through Sept. 3. You don't want to miss this season -- The Zombies of Penzance, La Cage aux Folles, and Be More Chill...!

Thank you, St. Louis, for being such an amazing place to make cool musical theatre!

Long Live the Musical!