Some people say
New Line opens its 26th season with the
freakiest New Year's Eve party you'll ever attend.
That today is the day
When the cold will come
And never go away.
When the bird will fly,
The wind will blow,
But something deep inside me
Says it can't be so.
I want to celebrate!
Make a celebration!
I want to celebrate!
Savor each sensation.
Feel the blazing fire.
Drain the cup of wine.
I want to light the torch
And teach the sun to shine.
I want to celebrate
With words by Tom Jones and music by Harvey
Schmidt (The Fantasticks, I Do! I Do!, 110 in the Shade),
CELEBRATION tells a wild, adult
fable set on New Year’s Eve, centered on Orphan, an idealistic and cheerfully
optimistic young man, who reminds the wealthy and jaded old man William
Rosebud Rich of his younger self; Angel, a sweet but not so angelic erotic
dancer who longs to be Somebody; and the cynical Potemkin, who serves as
narrator, commentator, and instigator.
The cast of New Line’s CELEBRATION includes Kent Coffel as Potemkin,
Zachary Allen Farmer as Rich, Sean Michael as Orphan, Larissa White as Angel,
with Colin Dowd, Sarah Dowling. Christopher Lee, Todd Micali,
Nellie Mitchell, Michelle Sauer, and Kimi Short. The show will be directed by
Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor, with music direction by Sarah Nelson,
choreography by Michelle Sauer, scenic design by
Rob Lippert, costume design by Sarah Porter, sound design by Benjamin
Rosemann, and lighting design by Kenneth Zinkl.
Back in 1968, with the profits from their hits The Fantasticks and I
Do! I Do!, Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones opened the Portfolio Studio in New
York, where they could experiment with the modern musical as an art form, away
from the economic pressures of Broadway and off Broadway.
Their first experiment there was the ritual-based musical Celebration,
based on an ancient Sumerian ritual play (no kidding), with a villain
based on the widely despised Broadway producer David Merrick. The
team had been working on the show, off and on, since The Fantasticks
had opened in 1960, but kept putting it aside for other projects. Earlier
called Ratfink, then The Bone Room. Full of masks and symbolic
props, the show was inspired by legendary director Peter Brook’s work in England,
combining ritual or “holy” theatre with street theatre and populist theatre.
At the end of his introduction to
the published script, Jones wrote, in 1973, "We did Celebration
first at our Portfolio Studio. It felt good there. It belonged. When we moved
it into the Ambassador Theatre on Broadway, it didn't feel as good. It seemed
somewhat silly up there, not because it was less effective than a Broadway
musical, but because it wasn't a Broadway musical. Who knows? Perhaps we will
do it again someday. With revisions. And in a proper place."
Tom Jones has
given New Line the honor of finally premiering that revised Celebration
he envisioned all those years ago, right here in St. Louis.
Jones also wrote about the show itself. "Celebration is different. For one thing, it is mostly in
prose. For another, it requires a bit more explanation. It is 'different' from
other musicals. In fact, I'm not even sure it is a 'musical' at all. Not in
the usual sense of the word. It is a fable. It has ritual overtones. It is
based upon ancient ceremonies depicting the battle between Winter and Summer.
It was suggested by an editorial in the New York Times about the meaning of
the Winter Solstice. It annoyed the hell out of some people. It delighted
others. It ran for only 109 performances on Broadway. But it is done often
around the country and the world. And it has been phenomenally successful in
Scandinavia (where the Winter Solstice is something to be reckoned with.)"
CELEBRATION opened on Broadway in January 1969, and Clive Barnes wrote
in the New York Times, “Once upon a time – for this is a fable – a man
called Tom Jones and a man called Harvey Schmidt sat down and pondered. They
pondered and they pondered. They pondered on what was wrong with the Broadway
musical, and they decided (at least this would be my guess) that it lacked
simplicity, magic and uplift. Last night the curtain rose on their
Celebration, which might be thought of as unpretentiously pretentious
fairy tale for adults.”
CELEBRATION contains adult language and content, and some partial