New Line Theatre: 26 Years of Success and Counting

New Line Theatre has been a staple in the theater community for over 25 years. They have staged some of the most memorable shows in the area and it’s always a pleasure attending their shows. Since the inception of our magazine, I have had the pleasure of getting to know the history of theaters around the region and New Line Theatre has made quite the impact over the last two and a half decades.

2014 Production of Rent – Photo Courtesy of New Line Theatre

The company was founded by Scott Miller in 1990 with a revue called “A Tribute to the Rock Musicals”. As a professional, non-equity theater, the company has had their share of challenges and successes over the years. Like most theaters, New Line started out with a specific goal, to involve the people of our region in the creation and exploration of adult, issue-oriented musical theater in this new Golden Age. They’ve accomplished this goal many times over with shows like “Bat Boy” in 2003 and again in 2006, and “Hair” in 2000, 2001, and 2008. They’ve also performed some musical favorites like “Rent”, “Rocky Horror”, and “American Idiot”.

The company has experienced growing pains over the years as well. Just like with most companies, funding is always a challenge but the company has been able to overcome and continue their mission. Venues for the show has also been a challenge. When the company started, they staged at COCA before moving to the New City School, the St. Marcus Theatre, the Ivory Theatre, and the Wash U South Campus Theatre. Finally, they found a permanent home at the Marcelle where they exclusively perform all their shows.

With their seasons starting in September each year, they are excited to be going into their 27th season in just a few short weeks. This year we can look forward to some amazing shows. Kicking off the season, they will be doing “Lizzie”, which is a rock opera about Lizzie Borden. The show will run from September 28 through October 21. Following that will be the ever popular “Anything Goes” from March 1st to 24th. Then finishing off the season will be “Yeast Nation”, written by the same talent that brought us “Urinetown”. And that will run March 31 through June 23.

Out On Broadway: The Third Coming – Photo Courtesy of New Line Theatre

Before the season kicks off, we are so excited to have one last show before they wrap up their 26th season. Starting on August 3rd and running through to the 19th, you can see “Out on Broadway: The Third Coming”. From the buzz around town this is not a show that you want to miss.

I took some time to talk to founder Scott Miller and ask him about how the theater is doing as a whole:

Q: How is the theater doing now?

A: Artistically, we’re doing great. Financially, we’ve been struggling the last couple of seasons. We continue to hold on and it’s thanks to our amazing supporters and donors.

Q: How has the theater changed since it’s inception?

A: In the beginning, I had to do almost everything. Now we have a bunch of incredibly talented and fearless artists working with us, many of whom come back show after show.

Q: How is the theater managed (board of directors, management team, etc.) and does it differ from how it operated in the beginning?

A: It not very different from when we started. We have a small board. I am the Artistic Director and a few years ago, we named our first Associate Artistic Director, Mike Dowdy-Windsor. He now directs most of our shows with me.

Q: What major successes has the theater had?

A: We pride ourselves for taking several shows that have failed on Broadway and bringing them back to life while receiving rave reviews and full houses, often times drawing the show’s writers to come to our productions. Then we see other theaters around the country producing these shows once they see what huge success we have had with them. We did this with “High Fidelity”, “Cry-Baby”, “Hands on a Hardbody”, and “Bonnie and Clyde.” We are also frequently the first company in the country to produce new shows after their Broadway run.

Q: What’s been the biggest challenge with keeping the theater going?

A: As with most theaters, balancing the budget. The difference with us is, by definition, the shows we produce are usually not “commercial,” so it’s always a struggle. But we’ve stayed in business 26 years so far…

Q: Tell us what you hope for the future of the theater?

A: I hope that we get back to long-term financial stability and continue producing really exciting and challenging theater. 

Scott Miller, Founder and Artistic Director of New Line Theatre – Photo Courtesy of New Line Theatre

Thank you, Scott, for taking the time to talk with me. I look forward to following your many successes in the future.

Over the years, the theater has been blessed with many talented individuals. Some come and go while others stick around and continue their passion for theater.

Some of the actors that you can see regularly at New Line Theatre are: Kimi Short (since 1998), Zachary Allen Farmer (since 2007), Michelle Sauer (since 2007), Todd Schaefer (since 2001), Sarah Porter (since 2011), Evan Fornachon (since 2011), and Jeffrey Wright (since 2007).

While most shows are directed by Scott Miller, for the last several years he has had the help of Mike Dowdy-Windsor. This last season, Mike directed by himself for the first time with “Tell Me on a Sunday.” He must have done a great job because he will be doing it again with the their kick off show “Lizzie” this fall.

Finally, I would like to give a shout out to all the amazing and dedicated people it takes to produce a show. As actors, we get a lot of recognition and accolades because we are who the audience sees, but the backstage crew, the tech crew, and the production team are the real talent behind making a show a success. New Line Theatre is no exception. They have an amazing scenic and lighting designer, Rob Lippert. Beside Rob is his loyal and dedicated crew: Gary Karasek, Nick Brunstein, Grace Brunstein, Paul Troyke, Richard Brown, Kate Wilkerson, and Melanie Kozak. You all do a fantastic job. Thank you for being the heroes of the show!

Don’t forget! Next week on August 3, 2017, “Out on Broadway: The Third Coming”! You do not want to miss this show. Click here to get your tickets now!

And keep following New Line Theatre as they continue to stage some great shows. Click here and subscribe to their blog, “The Bad Boy of Musical Theatre.”

FEATURE IMAGE PROVIDED BY NEW LINE THEATRE

 

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