by Adrienne Heutel
St. Louis’ New Line Theatre was selected to receive a $5,000 grant from the Grateful Dead last year, which is being used to help cover production costs for the company’s 2013 season.
The money comes from the Rex Foundation, a nonprofit founded by members and friends of the Grateful Dead in 1983. The foundation, named for the band’s road manager who passed away in 1976, supports communities in the arts, sciences and education. Since 1984, $8.7 million raised in benefit concerts has been given to more than 1,000 recipients.
“They called out of the blue and said they were considering New Line Theatre for the Grateful Dead Grant,” says New Line founder and artistic director Scott Miller. Since there is no application process for Rex Foundation, recipients are hand-picked, often without their knowledge. “They have an orchestra that does Grateful Dead covers, and one of the members came from St. Louis,” Miller says. This person suggested that a grant be given to an organization in STL, and New Line Theatre made the cut. The benefit concert for the 2012 grants happened on December 1, with a $5,000 portion of proceeds going to New Line.
One of the foundation’s main goals is to support individuality in the arts, and New Line is definitely outside of the box when it comes to musical theater. Miller says the company’s aim is to provide “musicals for people who don’t like musicals.” New Line puts on performances that Stages St. Louis and The Muny wouldn’t dream of doing. Although there is a risk in putting on such fierce, provocative shows, St. Louis supports and attends New Line’s productions regularly.
New Line Theatre is currently rehearsing for its upcoming show “Next to Normal,” which opens Feb. 28 and runs through March 23. This production has been on Broadway and won a Tony for best score (by Tom Kitt, composer of High Fidelity) and Pulitzer Prize for best drama—kicking off what Miller anticipates being a wonderful 22nd season in 2013.