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“I Love My Wife takes you back to the final spurts of the musky 70s with a jazzy tale of wife-swapping, sex and romance, and explores how maybe all that free love came with a hidden cost – and we ain’t talkin’ about herpes.” – Paul Friswold, The Riverfront Times
“A very funny show. . . enjoyable and a nice start to New Line’s 20th season.”
– Harry Hamm, KMOX
“New Line's presentation of this perfectly charming adult comedy is superbly cast and directed, and well worth your time and attention.” – Chris Gibson, BroadwayWorld.com
“This is a production that nobody who cares about musical theatre should miss, because if there ever is another local production, the passionate advocacy of the current production will be hard to match.” – Gerry Kowarsky, Two on the Aisle
“Miller's anthropological twist on musical theater gives New Line a distinctive point of view, brainy and bold. I Love My Wife is an apt addition to that repertoire.”
– Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Then we'd be free, sexually free,
Free to let each urge
We suppress freely surge
And our inhibitions melt;
Free, sexually free,
Free to cast our seed
On a stone if the need
For a stone should be felt.
Free, sexually free,
Free to follow love,
Though it lead to above
Or below thy neighbor's belt.
See what it is to be
Satisfied and unfrustrated,
Free and at liberty
To be loved and stimulated.
– "Sexually Free" from I Love My Wife
New Line Theatre opened its 20th Anniversary Season with the 70s jazz musical I LOVE MY WIFE, as part of the American Arts Experience Festival. This intimate, hilarious little four-character concept musical is a wacky comedy about sex, love, marriage, and wife-swapping, all set to a cool jazz score, with songs like "Married Couple Seeks Married Couple," "Sexually Free," "By Threes," and the unashamedly romantic "I Love My Wife." At its core, this is a story about searching for meaningful human connection in the midst of massive cultural change, a theme as relevant now as it was thirty years ago.
I LOVE MY WIFE is a snapshot of America in 1977, at the end of the Sexual Revolution, a character study of our country and our ongoing love-hate relationship with all things carnal. Hair announced the Sexual Revolution in full swing, and The Rocky Horror Show exposed all its warts, but I Love My Wife shows us how it ended, not with a bang but with a whimper. As great as Free Love sounded, it really wasn’t what most Americans wanted. By the end of the 1970s, Cosmopolitan magazine reported that “so many readers wrote negatively about the Sexual Revolution – expressing longings for vanished intimacy and the now elusive joys of romance and commitment – that we began to sense there might be a sexual, counter-revolution under way in America.” In 1982, New York magazine published an article called, “Is Sex Dead?” Esquire published “The End of Sex,” which said, “As it has turned out, the Sexual Revolution, in slaying some loathsome old dragons, has created some formidable new ones.” The show explores the confusion of the Eisenhower generation when faced with all these temptations. Too old to be hippies and too young to be old fogies, these would-be swingers sincerely attempt to try on the counterculture lifestyle, eventually leading all four into the same bed.
The Sexual Revolution was an outgrowth of the 1960s counterculture, and it cast aside traditional sexual restraints and began a decade or more of alternative eroticism, experimentation, and promiscuity. In part facilitated by the development of the Pill and other contraceptives, Americans in the 1970s broke many sexual taboos, including interracial dating, open homosexuality, communal living, casual nudity, and "dirty talk." Surveys during the 1970s reported that by the age of nineteen, four-fifths of all males and two-thirds of all females had had sex, quite a change from earlier decades. Fashion designers promoted a new sensuality, producing miniskirts, hot pants, halter tops, impossibly tight jeans, and other formfitting clothes designed to accentuate both men's and women's sexuality. But by the end of the 1970s, Cosmopolitan magazine reported that “So many readers wrote negatively about the Sexual Revolution – expressing longings for vanished intimacy and the now elusive joys of romance and commitment – that we began to sense there might be a sexual, counter-revolution under way in America.” In 1982, New York magazine published an article called, “Is Sex Dead?” Esquire published “The End of Sex,” which said, “As it has turned out, the Sexual Revolution, in slaying some loathsome old dragons, has created some formidable new ones.”
I LOVE MY WIFE boasts a real jazz score by Cy Coleman (Sweet Charity, City of Angels, Barnum, The Will Rogers Follies, The Life), and a smart, sophisticated book and lyrics by Michael Stewart (Hello, Dolly!, Barnum, Mack and Mabel), "officially" based on the French play Viens Chez-moi, J'Habite Chez une Copine (Come to My Place, I Live with My Girlfriend) by Luis Regio and Didier Kaminka, but the show really takes far more (uncredited) inspiration from the iconic 1969 film Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice (which was briefly turned into a sitcom in 1974).
The cast of New Line Theatre's production of I LOVE MY WIFE included Todd Schaefer (Alvin), Emily Berry (Cleo), Jeffrey M. Wright (Wally), Sarah Armstrong (Monica), Zachary Allen Farmer (Harvey), Troy Turnipseed (Quentin), and Joel Hackbarth (Stanley). The show was directed by Scott Miller and Alison Helmer, with costumes by Thom Crain, scenic design by Todd Schaefer, and lighting by Kenneth Zinkl.
New Line's I Love My Wife
to explore more? We recommend:
The controversial 1969 film Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, on which I Love My Wife is (unofficially and loosely) based
Jonathan Ward's fascianting web article, Come in My Mouth: The Story of the Adult Musicals of the '70s
Wikipedia's article on the Sexual Revolution
A glossary of all the pop culture and drug references in the song "Everybody Today is Turning On" from I Love My Wife
The very cool Super Seventies RockSite, chock full of 70s pop culture
The outstanding book The Century of Sex: Playboy's History of the Sexual Revolution, 1900-1999
The seminal (pun intended) 1970s books on sex, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask, The Joy of Sex, and Fear of Flying
The fascinating documentary Inside Deep Throat, about America and sex in the 70s
More info on the American Arts Experience Festival.