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Love Kills

Love Kills is a gripping and fascinating evening in the hands of director Scott Miller and New Line Theatre. . . Love Kills is not a comforting evening, not by a long shot. Identify too much with one couple or the other and you're bound to feel bad about yourself. But Jarrow keeps feeding you moments in which you want the four of them to achieve everything they desire, even when the characters are at cross-purposes. The end result is much like navigating love – how do you give yourself to someone else and hold on to yourself at the same time? Life is long; if you're lucky, long enough to figure it out.” – Paul Friswold, The Riverfront Times

"Watching their story unfold through a raw punk-flavored rock score and fine acting on the parts of all four cast members is sublime. The bad boy of musical theatre is gloriously back! . . . Scott Miller directs with passionate intensity, and it’s among the finest work I’ve seen from this company, which is saying a lot.” – Andrea Braun, KDHX-FM

“[Scott] Miller, who's also the artistic director of New Line, likes to color outside the lines, and his determination here reveals his passion for bringing fresh and challenging new musicals to the St. Louis region. This might be considered a risky choice, but I'm glad he and the company were willing to take it on, because I might not have gotten the chance to experience it otherwise. . . If you’re looking for something outside the norm, then you should definitely check out New Line’s production of Love Kills.” – Chris Gibson, BroadwayWorld.com

Love Kills, directed by Scott Miller, is performed without an intermission, but you won't even notice because the story is engaging and moves along at a quick pace. It will leave you with plenty to talk about: What would you do in the name of love?” – Gabe Hartwig, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


      You stare at the newspaper pictures
      They shock like a kick in the crotch
      But I know you like what you're seeing
      I know you love to watch

      It's like watching a movie
      And we're the stars of the movie
      And it's a comedy movie
      And it's terribly funny
      And it's terribly funny how...

      Now the roads all run with blood
      From the people we killed
      And the countryside could flood
      With all that we spilled
      Cause we did it all for love
      And we'd be doing it still...
      That's the funny thing.

In this time of frequent public shootings and escalating violence on American streets, in a time of accelerating medical advances in the study of crime and the human brain – and the discovery of actual physical defects that disable impulse control and empathy – in a time when violence is so random, how do we make sense of it all?

New Line's 19th season opened in October 2009 with the world premiere of Kyle Jarrow's daring new rock musical LOVE KILLS, based on real life murderers Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate. With a cast of just four actors, the show takes us back to Nebraska in 1958, and we witness as the world closes in on these wo teenage lovers who are charged with committing eleven murders in the course of a week. Under pressure to confess by dawn, facts blur and loyalties shift, and they have to ask themselves: how far will you go for someone you love?

For inquiries about production rights for Love Kills, contact the show's author Kyle Jarrow.

Today in 2009, we may be re-fighting the great cultural and political battle between the 1950s (conservatism) and the 1960s (liberalism) for the last time, winner take all. But in 1958 that battle was raging for the first time, and Charlie was at the heart of it...

Taylor Pietz and Philip Leveling as Caril and Charlie in New Line Theatre's "Love Kills," 2009From the truTV website: "Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate embarked on a murder spree that horrified the country. This was the country that had elected Eisenhower and Nixon for a second term in 1956 and where the FBI's J. Edgar Hoover was firmly entrenched as the national policeman. This was also a country that was undergoing unsettling cultural changes. Frightening and offensive symbols of rebellion emerged and thrived: Elvis Presley, James Dean and the whole rock 'n roll culture focused on a new generation that challenged the status quo of the sterile 1950s. The country that uncomfortably watched James Dean’s Rebel Without A Cause in 1956 suddenly saw a Dean-like figure in Charles Starkweather to make them really uncomfortable. What was the world coming to? Were the violence and the alienation of Starkweather just the beginning of some uncontrollable trend that would destroy the fabric of society?"

The Omaha World-Herald published this editorial shortly after the arrests: “If Charles Starkweather were a case apart, a biological accident, a monstrous freak of nature, then today all Americans could take a deep breath of relief and give thanks that his mad career of murder had been brought to an end. But although his crimes were of a violence beyond precedent, nevertheless there was a certain flavor to the Starkweather story which brought back to mind a thousand others which have been told in recent years to an unbelieving America. The sideburns, the tight blue jeans, the black leather jacket – those have become almost the uniform of juvenile hoodlums. And the snarling contempt for discipline, the blazing hate for restraint, have become a familiar refrain in police stations and juvenile courts throughout the land. To a greater degree than ever before, influences are pulling some youngsters away from the orbit of the home, the school, and the church, and into the asphalt jungle. That is the problem.”

In his book Starkweather: Portrait of a Mass Murderer, William Allen wrote, "Examples of multiple murders are much easier to list now than in 1958 – the names Speck, Whitman, DeSalvo, Coril, Manson come immediately to mind, and there are others. And it may be significant that almost all of them spent at least a portion of their adolescence in the fifties."

New York Musical Theatre FestivalThe New York Times says "Kyle Jarrow is New York's hipster playwright," and Curtain Up wrote, "Jarrow's writing is messy, giddy, and poignant, and at its best, all three at once. Most importantly, Jarrow's work continues to prove that he is not afraid of playing with fire." The New York Sun wrote, "Kyle Jarrow's songs are dangerously catchy." The New Yorker said "Mr. Jarrow is the kind of writer that likes to provoke people."

Love Kills was produced for six performances at the 2007 New York Musical Theatre Festival in an earlier form.

The New Line cast included Philip Leveling as Charlie Starkweather, Taylor Pietz as Caril Ann Fugate, Zachary Allen Farmer as Sheriff Merle Karnopp, and Alison Helmer as Gertrude Karnopp. The show was directed by Scott Miller, with a set by Frank Bradley, lighting by Kenneth Zinkl, and costumes by Darren Hansen.

New Line is very proud to have presented the world premiere of this brilliant new work.






Notice how Matt Reedy's LOVE KILLS poster borrows from the iconic Sun Records label.

Want to explore more? We recommend:

The official Love Kills webpage on the author's website

Director Scott Miller's background and analysis essay about the show

An interview with Kyle Jarrow about Love Kills and his other work

Several articles from the Lincoln Journal-Star about the murders

The best book about the murders, Waste Land: The Savage Odyssey Of Charles Starkweather And Caril Ann Fugate and another good book, Starkweather: Inside the Mind of a Teenage Killer

A poetry collection called Starkweather Dreams about Charlie and Caril

The documentary Murder By Proxy: How America Went Posal, about spree killing in America

Bruce Springsteen's song about Charlie, "Nebraska" -- and the lyrics

A web article putting the murders in historical context

An excellent video thesis project, Murder Week: The Story of Charles Starkweather, part one and part two

The truTV webpage about Charlie and Caril and their crimes, including lots of photographs

New Line's webages for three other shows set wihtin a year or two of this story, painting very different pictures of this moment in American cultural history:

The Nervous Set (written in 1959)

The Fantasticks (written in 1959)

Grease (set in 1959)

Films inspired by the Starkweather murders:



Natural Born Killers

Murder in the Heartland

The Sadist

True Romance

Wild At Heart


The films Charlie watched in the days before the murders:

The Parson and the Outlaw

Escape from San Quentin

Man in the Shadow

Last of the Badmen

Pickup Alley

The Domino Kid

Details of a 2006 multiple murder case, with eerie parallels to the Starkweather murders, this time also committed by two teenage lovers who had repeatedly watched Natural Born Killers

The New York Musical Theatre Festival where Love Kills was first seen

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