Truly Grateful

I'll tell you what I'm thankful for this year. I'm thankful that musical theatre has become a vigorous, popular part of our culture again. I'm thankful that there are so many artists out there writing new, amazing musicals. I'm thankful that St. Louis has a musical theatre scene of such breadth and depth.

But there's one thing I'm particularly grateful for -- your trust.

We're opening our THIRTY-SECOND season next week. For thirty-two years, St. Louis audiences have trusted me to find the most interesting, most exciting, most iconoclastic works of musical theatre. Some of New Line's best selling shows have been musicals that most of our audience had never heard of before. They trust me to know what I'm doing when I throw out the usual rules.

I could throw in a punch line here about how I've got them all fooled. But the truth is, I do know what I'm doing. My entire adult life, I've been directing unusual musicals and/or directing musicals unusually. But I realized long ago, my lifelong dream is not to do musicals; it's to share musicals. And I find myself in a strikingly unique position to be able to do that.

And Jesus Christ, is it fun!

I've also learned over the years that almost all human communication is in the form of stories. I was born to be a storyteller; I knew that from an incredibly early age. And I knew that I wanted to tell stories with musicals. It seemed to me as a small kid and it seems to me still today, that musicals are so obviously the most powerful, most impactful form of storytelling humans ever created. We storytellers are the tribe shamans. We bridge the gap between the spiritual world and the physical world through our stories.

The last few years have been so hard to get through. When the pandemic shut everything down, it felt like a theatre Armageddon. But our audience has returned to us. They need what we can give. In fact,  even as theatres across America are shutting down, our season tickets sales actually went up this season.

If that's not a reason to be thankful, what is?

The world is still broken. Many of us are still broken. Many of us are still grappling with lingering PTSD. So much about the world -- and our fellow humans! -- is intensely ugly right now. But we have a light we can shine, we artsies, we storytellers, we shamans. It's not easy to pierce this thick, dense darkness, but we have a light.

That's what I'm thankful for.

But John Bucchino can say it better than me. It's rare that a lyric exactly captures my inner life, but this one does -- his amazing prayer of a song, "Grateful."
In a world that can bring pain,
I will still take each chance;
For I believe that whatever the terrain,
Our feet can learn to dance!
Whatever stone life may sling,
We can moan or we can sing!

Long Live the Musical! Long Live the Light!

To buy tickets to JJHRFX, click here.
To donate to New Line Theatre, click here.
To check out my newest musical theatre books, click here.