Casting Announced for New Line Theatre's BONNIE & CLYDE and JERRY SPRINGER THE OPERA
New Line Theatre, "the bad boy of musical theatre," announces its 24th season of adult, alternative musical theatre, including the St. Louis premiere of the new musical BONNIE & CLYDE, running Oct. 2-25, 2014; the St. Louis premiere of the outrageous JERRY SPRINGER THE OPERA, running March 5-28, 2015; and one of the masterpieces of the art form, the darkly satiric THREEPENNY OPERA (which isn't really an opera), running May 28-June 20, 2015.
The New Line season opens Oct. 2-25, 2014, with the St. Louis premiere of the 2011 Broadway show BONNIE & CLYDE, a newmusical exploring the culture that created Bonnie and Clyde, the moral ambiguity of the Prohibition years, and the distrust of authority during the Depression that made these damaged kids into folk heroes. In this time of economic distress in America, this story seems more relevant than ever. With music by Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Wonderland), lyrics by Don Black (Tell Me on a Sunday, Aspects of Love) and a script by Ivan Menchell, this uncompromising musical made its world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2009. It was then was heavily revised and it opened on Broadway in 2011. Despite a short run, it was nominated for three Outer Critics Circle Awards and five Drama Desk Awards, both including Best New Musical, as well as two nominations for the 2012 Tony Awards, including Best Score.
The New Line cast includes Matt Pentecost (Clyde), Larissa White (Bonnie), Brendan Ochs (Buck), Sarah Porter (Blanche), Reynaldo Arceno (Ted Hinton), Zachary Allen Farmer (Preacher), Christopher "Zany" Clark (Sheriff Schmid), Mara Bollini, Joel Hackbarth, Alison Helmer, Ann Hier, Marshall Jennings, Nellie Mitchell, Kimi Short, and Christopher Strawhun. Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy will direct, with music direction by Jeffrey Carter, scenic and lighting design by Rob Lippert, and costume design by Sarah Porter and Marcy Wiegert.
The New York Times wrote about Bonnie & Clyde, "To its credit this show's criminal renegades are not presented as misunderstood kids, victims of a dream-squelching society. Clyde and Bonnie are, it is made clear, serious egomaniacs, who regularly quarrel about who should get top billing in news accounts of their crimes. Like so many young folks today, they just want to be stars." USA Today said, "The story of Depression-era outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, whose crime spree was fueled by both poverty and emotional neediness and followed by a rapt media, seems ripe for revisiting, given our current economic woes and preoccupation with attention-hungry, talent-deprived tabloid personalities." Newsday said, "This is Wildhorn's most developed, most genuinely theatrical score."
The season continues March 5-28, 2015, with one of New Line's most ambitious, most outrageous projects, JERRY SPRINGER THE OPERA, the smash-hit, multi-award winning musical that ran to unprecedented rave reviews and standing ovations at the NationalTheatre in London, after a sold-out run in London's West End. The Sunday Times called it "a shocking, irresistibly funny masterpiece." With music by Richard Thomas, and book and lyrics by Thomas and Stewart Lee, this is an audacious, fearless piece of theatre that brilliantly and hilariously dissects the cultural forces that have kept Jerry Springer on the air all these years, the lives of quiet desperation that explode into public view in Springer's weirdly nonjudgmental, national confessional.
The New Line cast will include Keith Thompson (Jerry Springer), Kevin Collier (Steve Wilkos), Matt Pentecost (Jonathan Wierus); and as Jerry's guests, Zachary Allen Farmer, Ryan Foizey, Marshall Jennings, Lindsey Jones, Taylor Pietz, Christina Rios, Anna Skidis, and Luke Steingruby; and as Jerry's studio audience (among other things), Reynaldo Arceno, Joel Hackbarth, Kurtis Heinrich, Ann Hier, Sarah Porter, Michelle Sauer, and Kimi Short. Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy will direct, with music direction by Jeffrey Carter, scenic and lighting design by Rob Lippert, and costume design by Sarah Porter and Marcy Wiegert.
Originally opening in 2003, Jerry Springer the Opera ran over 600 performances in London, before touring the UK. The production won four Olivier Awards, including Besf.comt New Musical, and it was the first show ever to win all four Best Musical awards in the UK (Olivier, Evening Standard, Critics' Circle and What's On Stage). The first North American performance was at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and it was performed by a number of American regional theatre companies, before making its New York debut in 2008 at Carnegie Hall. The show has been controversial from the beginning, due to its adult language and its irreverent treatment of Judeo-Christian themes, and it's been accompanied by protests wherever it's played. It was the subject of major controversy in the UK when a 2005 broadcast of the show elicited 55,000 complaints. A Christian organization led street protests against the screening at nine BBC offices and announced their intention to bring blasphemy charges.
In London, The Observer called the show "the most explosive theatrical event for years, and the biggest thrill at the National for decades . . . the show sets a new standard for musical theatre." The Sunday Express called it "audacious, blasphemous, venomous, scandalous and fabulous . . . It's the most ambitious, dazzlingly realized piece of new theatre to originate in this country in years." The Financial Times called it "a major event of theatre: uproarious, astonishing, and, in the seriousness of its irony, utterly disarming." The New York Times wrote, "Will it turn out that the great American musical of the early 21st century is an opera born in Britain? A convincing case for the rights to that title was made by the celestial Jerry Springer The Opera, the notorious show from London about the transcendent within tabloid television. . . Now 'celestial' might seem an ill-chosen adjective for a work devoted to the raw and nasty public doings of a throng of aspiring celebrities with dirty little secrets expressed in dirty little words. But this remarkable work - which features a spectacularly inventive score - uncovers something grand within the small, squalid lives it portrays."
New Line's season closes May 28-June 20, 2015, with one of the dark, comic masterpieces of the art form, Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's world-famous musical comedy THE THREEPENNY OPERA (which is not really an opera), in the famous translation by Marc Blitzstein, the show that launched the pop standard, "Mack the Knife." With its haunting jazz score, acid harmonies, biting lyrics, and questionable morals, this is the show that inspired Cabaret, Urinetown, Sweeney Todd, and so many other modern musicals. It's an ironic morality tale about brutal paradoxes, about redemption for the irredeemable, about devotion to the undeserving, about criminal justice serving the unjust and the poor dressing up to look poorer just so that the rich can get even richer. Originally opening in Berlin in 1928, the show later became the first mega-hit off Broadway in the late 1950s, running over 2,600 performances. It's now one of the most revived musicals around the world, having been translated into eighteen languages and performed more than 10,000 times.
Casting has not yet been announced for New Line's production.
The New York Post called the show "a distinguished and delightful work of art, striking, sardonic, original, humorous and always interesting." The New York Times wrote in 1954, "Sometimes Weill writes with sangfroid, with the insolence, indifference and tired routine of any jazz hack. But you are not listening to shop-made jazz. You are listening to a master of his craft, saying in his score all sorts of things, with world weariness, compassion and despair." Cue called it "sordid and beautiful." The Chicago Sun-Times wrote of a 2008 production, "With Brecht's cuttingly satirical look at the meaning of morality in a society populated by gangsters, beggars, prostitutes and corrupt cops, and Weill's edgy, opera-meets-cabaret score, the show is all but irresistible."
The season will also include two events from New Line Theatre Off Line, THAT 70s GAME SHOW! LIVE! STRIKES BACK! onAugust 2 at the Regional Arts Commission, and a new Off Line cabaret, featuring New Liners Jeffrey M. Wright, Todd Schaefer, and Zachary Allen Farmer, at the Kranzberg Arts Center Cabaret in Grand Center, on January 31. Off Line will also host public talk-backs with the New Line creative staff during the season, as part of our ongoing Special Features series.
ABOUT NEW LINE THEATRE
New Line Theatre is a professional company dedicated to involving the people of the St. Louis region in the exploration and creation of daring, provocative, socially and politically relevant works of musical theatre. New Line was created back in 1991 at the vanguard of anew wave of nonprofit musical theatre just starting to take hold across the country. New Line has given birth to several world premiere musicals over the years and has brought back to life several shows that were not well served by their original New York productions. Altogether, New Line has produced 71 musicals since 1991, and the company was recently given its own entry in the Cambridge Guide to American Theatre. New Line receives funding from the Regional Arts Commission, the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation, and the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.
Mainstage shows run Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, at 8:00 p.m., at the Washington University South Campus Theatre(formerly CBC High School), 6501 Clayton Road, just east of Big Bend. Tickets for the 2014-2015 season will go on sale in August. Prices range from $15-$25. For other information, visit New Line Theatre's full-service website at www.newlinetheatre.com. All programs are subject to change.