We weren’t sure what people would think of Celebration. It is a weird show. After all, it really was an experiment. But it’s also really funny and rowdy and utterly original. And we’ve had such fun putting this crazy story together. I keep using the word wild when I describe our show, but it’s an apt word.
Though Celebration hasn’t sold as well as better known shows, the reaction from our audiences and from reviewers has been truly wonderful. People really love the show, even its weird, ambiguous ending…
It’s always nice for the budget when we produce a well-known “favorite,” but there’s nothing better than getting to share a really cool, lesser known piece of challenging theatre with hundreds of people who totally embrace it. Take a look at some of these review quotes…
“A sort of deconstruction and laying bare of the elements that make life so fantastic and worth living. New Line Theatre, in its visual and titillating production of Celebration, embraces the conceit with skill and fluidity… All the details fit together well and the effect is marvelous, creating the atmosphere of an exclusive party at a decadently fading disco… The songs are showy and catchy and the dialogue witty, allowing lead actors Larissa White, Zachary Allen Farmer, Sean Michael and Kent Coffel to shine. A little quirky and weird, Celebration is a delightfully provocative musical gem filled with intentional pomp and theatrical circumstance.” – Tina Farmer, KDHX
“I’m so glad New Line Theatre opened their 26th season with this fanciful and tune-filled musical. Through their superlative efforts we’re able to see the premiere of a version that’s been revised by Tom Jones. I’m not sure what was changed, but what we’re privy to is a very engaging and entertaining production that will make you wonder why it isn’t performed with more regularity. The score itself is gorgeous, and I cannot recommend this neglected gem highly enough… a genuinely fun experience… With a truly memorable score and many amusing moments, one wonders why this musical isn’t more well known and successful. That’s why I urge you to check out New Line Theatre’s wonderful production of Celebration.” – Chris Gibson, BroadwayWorld
“Co-directors Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor have assembled an amazing cast to add polish and luster to Tom Jones’ and Harvey Schmidt’s musical. But they’ve also resurrected the forgotten style of a more beautiful time in this delightful piece. Aging hippies take note, your heart will find a home in Celebration… Part fable, part love triangle, and part 1960s hippie/Brechtian/Fantasticks-style love-in, this seldom-seen show succeeds brilliantly thanks to its post-Vietnam urgency, its post-Civil Rights egalitarianism, and perhaps even a soupçon of pre-Watergate naiveté—along with excellent leads and the sheer wit and exuberance of the whole ensemble.” – Richard Green, TalkinBroadway
“In a world full of remakes, rip-offs and rehashes, it’s nice to know that there are still surprises… New Line Theatre has proven time and again that what stumbles on the big stage can spring into life in a black box theater. Under the direction of Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor, New Line’s current staging of Celebration is a mystical journey that brings rebirth and rejuvenation.” – Paul Friswold, The Riverfront Times
“New Line Theatre’s world premiere of the revised Celebration features fantastic performances… This is a show that is a bit shocking, very funny and ultimately speaks volumes about the human condition… Once again, Scott Miller’s cast is top-notch… I’m extremely excited and honored to have been among the first few people in the world to see his revised version. I wouldn’t want to see it done any other way.” – Jeff Ritter, Critical Blast
“The rediscovery of neglected work is one of New Line’s strengths, and this jazzy life-cycle fable has a lot to recommend it… .Co-directors Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor make everything sing with the winsome, alluring voice that we’ve known and loved since The Fantasticks debuted in 1960.”“ – Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Brisk and lightweight in appearance but abetted by universal themes of hope and beauty, age and death, Celebration is an intriguing musical written by the creators of The Fantasticks, which it strongly resembles in style and execution. The two-act story, first performed in 1969 and recently revised by bookwriter Tom Jones for New Line Theatre, is breezily performed by New Line’s cast within the cozy confines of the company’s Marcelle Theater under the watchful direction of Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor… It’s rarely performed by professional companies in America, so do yourself a favor and make a resolution to experience the seasons of Celebration at the Marcelle Theater while there’s still time.” – Mark Bretz, Ladue News
“Being an allegory, it’s a plot that must be experienced to be appreciated. Add the bouncy, cynical, often jazzy score and you’ve got the makings of yet another musical that fits perfectly into the black box of the Marcelle that is the home to New Line… Sarah Nelson leads a strong band which brings out the clever and exciting score. Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor co direct and set the mysterious and sometimes eerie feel of the story beautifully to stage.” – Steve Allen, Stagedoor St. Louis
“New Line Theatre is the first to premiere this revised version. Under the lively direction of Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor, the intimate black box space at the Marcelle seems like a marvelous fit.” – Andrea Torrence, St. Louis Theatre Snob
“Under the innovative co-direction of Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor, this restless relic gets a new dawn, and a swell cast seizes the day, strange as it may seem… Music Director Sarah Nelson crisply leads four other superb musicians in Schmidt’s unmistakable compositions… While the show was created in turbulent times, pleading for a sliver of hope to emerge, its message — to survive in a very cold, cruel world is tough, but the noble choice, no matter how hard the struggle — remains timeless.” – Lynn Venhaus, Belleville News Democrat
“The theme and mood of the production is stylishly presented, lending much to the overall entertainment value of the production and augmenting the performances of the excellent cast. Celebration is an entertaining production inventively staged. It’s not for everyone, as like almost all of New Line’s shows, this is for mature audiences. For the most part, Celebration is a witty, energetic, and extremely well-cast show that’s well worth checking out.” – Michelle Kenyon, Snoop’s Theatre Thoughts blog
Yes, ticket sales could be better, and we’ll have to struggle with the budget after this show, but it’s been worth it. We got to do a brand new revision of this iconic but rarely produced show, people seem to really love it, and the show’s bookwriter and lyricist Tom Jones is flying in this week to see our last two performances. What could be cooler than that?
There’s a lot going on right now on local stages, but so many people still choose to come to New Line, even for a show they’ve haven’t heard of, because they know we’ll give them an adventure. So many people have said to me after performances of Celebration, “It’s not at all what I expected!” Yep, that’s what we do. We hear that after many of the shows we produce. That’s the whole point. Stages and The Muny will give you what you expect, and I’m sure some folks find that comforting. New Line does something else…
We’ve already had a number of repeat customers whose minds were so blown the first time they saw Celebration that they just have to see it again. I love that.
We have three performances left. If you haven’t joined us, you really should. Not only is it a great, funny, rowdy jazz musical, it’s also a show you will likely never get a chance to see again. And it is truly like nothing else you’ve ever seen.
I couldn’t be more grateful, to our ever fearless New Line artists, to our audiences, and to our local reviewers. This awesome adventure continues… but not for long… Get your tickets now…!
Long Live the Musical!
from The Bad Boy of Musical Theatre http://newlinetheatre.blogspot.com/2016/10/all-i-know-is-up-until-we-have-to-go-i.html