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New Line Theatre brings Zorba to life in rarely produced musical

Kent Coffel as Zorba and Dominic Dowdy-Windsor as Nikos in New Line Theatre's production of "Zorba"
Jill Ritter Lindberg
Kent Coffel as Zorba and Dominic Dowdy-Windsor as Nikos in New Line Theatre's production of "Zorba"

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New Line Theatre continues its 26th season with “Zorba,” the musical by Jason Kander and Fred Ebb which is based on Nikos Kazantzakis’ 1946 novel “Zorba the Greek.” The production tells of the exploits of Nikos, a young man who has inherited a mine on the island of Crete after meeting an older man, Zorba, and the hijinks that ensue.

Kent Coffel who plays Zorba in New Line’s production told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh about the challenge of the role. “Trying to find this character who is really larger than life who’s passionate about everything and whatever he feels, he feels very strongly whether its anger or its happiness or whatever it is, he’s much larger than life.”

Scott Miller
Credit Joan Hildebrand Zobel
New Line Theatre artistic director Scott Miller

New Line artistic director Scott Miller talked about what made him to want to stage the show. “The point of it is that life has a lot of good stuff and a lot of bad stuff and happy stuff and sad stuff and if you really want to be happy you kind of have to embrace all of it. … It’s all part of life. And I love that message, I love the idea of that. You know, that life is just our time here; that it’s all it is and that we’ve got to live it and do the best we can."

Coffel observed that to play Zorba he had to acknowledge that the character is a lot different than he is. “I have to at all times remind myself to walk like Zorba, to carry myself like Zorba and to speak the way that he would speak and to take up more space than I as a person would do.”  

Miller explained that although the show has some dark moments, there are also a lot of laughs and it is the mix of the two that audiences find appealing. “I think that the story is potent at this particular moment,” said Miller. “And maybe it’s about all the craziness in our politics and all that, but there is something about grabbing onto life and just shaking it and having a blast with it. I think there is something therapeutic about that right now.”

Related Event

What: New Line Theatre Presents "Zorba" by John Kander and Fred Ebb
When: March 3-25 at 8:00 p.m. Thursday - Saturday
Where: Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, St. Louis, MO 63103
More information.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Mary Edwards is a producer for St. Louis Public Radio's broadcast program, "St. Louis Symphony."