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Disastrous economy doesn't hurt New Line Theatre

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 22, 2009 - While some local theater companies barely hung on through the recession-hit 2008-09 performance season, New Line Theatre had its best year ever. At the close of the season in August, New Line tallied up a record 6,646 patrons and $119,045 in income — the highest in its 18 years of operation.

New Line’s opening production, “Hair,” attracted many repeat patrons, at least one of whom turned up for 10 performances. According to New Line Artistic Director Scott Miller, the theater draws people who are not only seeking entertainment but looking for the meaning in current events.

“We try to produce shows that are relevant to our audiences' lives, and I think people appreciate that. I'm always told that audiences just want escape; I think that's wrong — I think they want connection,” Miller said.

Appealing to pocketbooks may have also contributed to the theater company’s success. New this past season were half-off discounts on Thursday nights for educators and military personnel, and New Line continued its selection of free seats for college students and lower prices for all patrons on Thursdays.

New Line's 19th season opens with “Love Kills,” which runs Oct. 1-24 at the Washington University South Campus Theatre, 6501 Clayton Road, just east of Big Bend.

Nancy Larson is a freelance writer who is watching over the area theater scene for the Beacon. 

Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.