Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Off-Broadway Theater Review: When We Were Young and Unafraid



When We Young and Unafraid
By Sarah Treem
Directed by Pam McKinnon
MTC

What's It All About?
It's 1972 and single mom Agnes (Cherry Jones) is trying to get her daughter, Penny (Morgan Saylor), to stop worrying about trying to get into Yale and go to the prom. Penny's idea about the perfect boy might be different, but her mother just doesn't get it.

Or maybe she does. Agnes has been running a safe house for battered women who arrive in the dead of night at the bed and breakfast on coastal Seattle. Mary Anne (Zoe Kazan) is one of the women seeking shelter there, but she might just bring more trouble than she's worth. She doesn't listen to Agnes' rules and contacts her violently abusive husband. She also ha "boy-catching" advice for Penny who has her eye on the school's football star.

Adding to the drama are Paul (Patch Darragh), a guest at the B and B who is interested in Mary Anne and Hannah (Cherise Boothe), a feminist looking for work as a handywoman on her way to a commune of lesbians convinced that men need to be eliminated from the equations.

What Are the Highlights?
Jones gives a moving, deep portrayal of a woman not sure how to do what is best for her daughter or for the women who end up in her care. "If you're going to go back," she challenges Mary Anne, "Tell me in person and to my face." She also isn't sure how to cope with the changing times, or with Hannah's obvious interest in her. McKinnon skillfully coaxes complexity in each role even the minor ones of Paul, who isn't who he seems to be, and Hannah, who surprises us with stability and strength. Kazan simultaneously appeals to our sympathy with Mary Anne's vulnerability and frustrates us with the character's stupid choices. Treems's story is engrossing.

What Are the Lowlights?
None, except that the subject matter is difficult. I enjoyed it. It gives an interesting perspective on women's issues before Roe s. Wade.

More Information:
When We Were Young and Unafraid plays through Aug. 10 at Manhattan Theatre Club at New York City Center Stage I, 131 West 55th St., NYC. The show is recommended for ages 12 and up. whenwewereyoungandunafraid.com.

Christians might also like to know:
-- Lord's name taken in vain
-- Abortion
-- Explicit dialogue
-- Sexual activity
-- Language
-- Homosexuality


Friday, July 25, 2014

Amazing Grace Musical to Have World Premiere in Chicago Before Heading to Broadway

Josh Young performs "Testimony" from Amazing Grace on June 23 at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place. in Chicago.  Photo: Amy Boyle Photography.

Casting is complete for the world premiere of Amazing Grace, the new musical with music and lyrics by Christopher Smith. (For a feature on Smith during the show's development at Goodspeed, click here).

Following the run at Chicago’s Bank of America Theatre, the production plans a Broadway transfer with dates and a theater to be announced.

As previously announced, Amazing Grace will star Tony Award nominee® Josh Young (Jesus Christ Superstar), as John Newton, writer of the hymn. The story (with a book by Smith and Arthur Giron) follows the willful and musically talented young Englishman who finds himself torn between following in the footsteps of his father – a slave trader – and embracing the more compassionate views of his childhood sweetheart (played by Erin Mackey). Click here to hear some of the music.

The musical is directed by Gabriel Barre (Andrew Lippas’ The Wild Party) and choreographed by Tony Award® winner Christopher Gattelli (Newsies). Also starring are Tom Hewitt,, Chuck Cooper, Chris Hoch Stanley Bahorek, Harriett D. Foy and Laiona Michelle. The ensemble will feature Marija Abney, Leslie Becker, Sara Brophy, Rheaume Crenshaw, Miquel Edson, Mike Evariste,Sean Ewing, Rachael Ferrera, Savannah Frazier, Christopher Gurr, Abdur-Rahim Jackson, Allen Kendall, Elizabeth Ward Land, Michael Dean Morgan, Oneika Phillips, Clifton Samuels, Gavriel Savit, Dan Sharkey, Bret Shuford, Evan Alexander Smith, Uyoata Udi, Charles E. Wallace, Toni Elizabeth White and Hollie E. Wright.

Amazing Grace begins performances at Chicago’s Bank of America Theatre, 18 West Monroe, Thursday, Oct. 9 and opens on Sunday, Oct. 19. The run is scheduled through Sunday, Nov. 2. The show is produced by Carolyn Rossi Copeland and presented by Broadway In Chicago.

Tickets: Group tickets for 10 or more are now on sale by calling (312) 977-1710. Individual tickets go on sale to the general public Aug. 1. For more information, visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.

More information about some of the team:
JOSH YOUNG (John Newton) Josh originated and currently stars in the role of "Che" in the first national tour of the Tony® Nominated Broadway revival of Evita. He received a 2012 Tony® Award nomination and Theatre World Award for his critically acclaimed Broadway debut as "Judas" in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar, directed by Des McAnuff. He appeared in two seasons at The Stratford Shakespeare Festival where his credits include: "Judas" in Jesus Christ Superstar, "Connie Rivers" in Grapes of Wrath, and "Che" in Evita directed by Gary Griffin, earning Broadway World Awards for each. Josh also appeared as "Marius" in the US National Tour of Les Miserables and "Tony" in the International Tour of West Side Story. He's been involved in new works with NYC's Roundabout Theatre Company, The Transport Group and The New York Musical Theater Festival. Josh is the co-founder of Cutting-Edge Composers (cuttingedgecomposers.com), a concert and weekly web series on broadwayworld.com, created to give exposure to musical theatre's next generation of songwriters. BFA Syracuse University. Tweet @joshpaulyoung.

ERIN MACKEY (Mary Catlett) was last seen on Broadway in Chaplin: The Musical as Oona O'Neill. Other Broadway credits include Anything Goes (Hope), Sondheim on Sondheim and Wicked (Glinda). She recently appeared at Lincoln Center in the NY Philharmonic's concert production of Sweeney Todd as Johanna, which will be broadcast on PBS later in 2014, and as Nellie Forbush in Paper Mill’s South Pacific

CHRISTOPHER SMITH (Book, Music, and Lyrics) wrote his first musical at the age of 17, which was performed at the University of Delaware when Chris was a senior in high school. He began working on Amazing Grace after time spent as a police officer and a Youth Outreach and Education Director in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. When a chance stroll through the church school library led him to pick up a book about John Newton, a person he hardly knew, Chris became convinced that Newton’s story could bridge the gap between ordinary experience and deep struggles of the soul.

ARTHUR GIRON (Book)’s plays include Edith Stein, Boy Dies Dancing Mambo, Money, Innocent Pleasures, Dirty Jokes, Becoming Memories, Flight, A Dream of Wealth, Moving Bodies, The Golden Guitar, Memories of Our Women, The Coffee Trees, Emilie's Voltaire, and St. Francis in Egypt, in addition to many one-actsAmong Arthur’s recent New York productions are The Coffee Trees (Beckett Theatre) and Emilie's Voltaire (Beckett Theatre). His prizes include the Los Angeles Critics' Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Writing (Twice) and the Galileo Prize. In addition, he has been awarded three commissions from The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation as well as commissions from the Metropolitan Opera Guild and the New York Shakespeare Festival. He is the former Head of the Graduate Playwriting program at Carnegie-Mellon University and a Founding Member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre in NYC.

CAROLYN ROSSI COPELAND (Executive Producer). Most recently Carolyn was lead producer for Freud’s Last Session Off Broadway (for a review, click here.) Carolyn also produced Freud’s Last Session in Chicago for 8 months at The Mercury Theatre starring Mike Nussbaum. Freud’s Last Session continues to be performed in the United States and around the world. 

 Copeland has been producing theater since 1979 when she founded The Lamb’s Theatre Company in the heart of Times Square. As Producing Director she led The Lamb’s into an award winning and financially successful enterprise. She was dedicated to producing new American Musical and Plays musicals and gave birth to such shows as Smoke on the MountainGifts of the Magi, the revival of Godspell, Johnny Pye and the FoolkillerJohn and JenThe Prince and the Pauper, and The Roads to Home written and directed by Horton Foote. The Lambs Theatre was the home of the PBS radio show “Prairie Home Companion” starring Garrison Keillor. Carolyn oversaw a complete renovation of the theatre and the creation of a second space known as The Lamb’s Little Theatre (www.lambstheatre.org for list of all productions). In 1998 Carolyn was sought out by Madison Square Garden/Radio City Entertainment to oversee the historic remount of The Scarlet Pimpernel on Broadway and following its success she became the Vice President for Creative Affairs for Radio City Entertainment (RCE). At RCE she oversaw The Christmas Carol at the world famous Madison Square Garden Theatre, The Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall and developed new performance opportunities for the world famous Rockettes. She opened her own production company which has served as a producer for The Gaylord Group at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and currently is the executive producer for Strouse IP, the company that controls and manages the works of the great American composer Charles Strouse.  www.crcproductions.org

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Broadway: Revisiting the Phantom of the Opera

Norm Lewis as the Phantom of the Opera. Photo: Matthew Murphy

The Phantom of the Opera
By Gaston Leroux
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by Charles Hart (with additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe)
Book by Richard Stilgoe and Andrew Lloyd Webber
Directed by Harold Prince

Sometimes It’s Worth Going Back to a Classic Musical
By Lauren Yarger
When you see as many theater productions as I do, there has to be a special reason to see one more than once. One musical that recently got me back again – and I have seen it quite a few times actually – is The Phantom of the Opera.

Phantom is the longest-running show in Broadway history and the most successful stage musical of all time. It has been running over at the Majestic Theatre for almost three decades and is nearing its 11,000 performances. You might also have seen it one of the times the tour has stopped at The Bushnell.

The score has been a favorite of mine since I first heard Andrew Lloyd Webber’s haunting tunes (sung by Michael Crawford as Broadway’s first Phantom with Sarah Brightman as Christine.) I loved the swelling organ with a rock beat, the unbelievably high notes hit by Christine and the sad, yet surprisingly sexy Phantom. It brought Gaston Leroux’s tale of a disfigured man who hides underground at the Paris Opera House, haunting its inhabitants and falling in love with ingénue Christine Daae to life for me in a way the novel never did.

The production, directed by Hal Prince, with its opulent opera settings (Production Design by Maria Björnson) and thousands of candles lighting the way as the Phantom brings Christine to his lair via a boat on an underground river changed the face of musical theater on Broadway for years. 

I went back and saw it on a number of occasions, mostly to take out-of-towners to experience a Broadway show. On some occasions, I felt like it lived up to that original production. One production, probably about 10 years ago, was terrible. I thought the entire cast and crew should be fired. It looked like an amateur high school production.

So what prompted me to go see the musical again? The casting of Norm Lewis, one of my favorite singing voices on Broadway, as the Phantom. In 1990, Tony Award nominee Robert Guillaume (another favorite actor and singing voice) played the role when he succeeded Michael Crawford in the Los Angeles production, but Lewis was to be the first African-American to play the role on Broadway. Joining him is Sierra Boggess as Christine. He took over the role in May.

I went with a lot of excitement. Favorite show plus favorite actor equals great experience, right? Well, yes, but maybe night quite as much as I expected. I enjoyed seeing the show again – it is much cleaned up since that awful production 10 years ago. It seemed to me that some little bits had been added to give minor characters something extra to do. The 27-piece orchestra (large by some modern standards) still sounded great on the opening number in particular, but I felt that arrangements (Orchestrations by David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber) let me hear individual instruments rather than a blend (Sound Design by Mick Potter).

Vocal arrangements also left me hearing single notes rather than crescendos of individual voices coming together as one (Musical Direction and Supervision by David Caddick). I also was disappointed to hear some of the Phantom’s songs rekeyed, though Lewis sings them well (I still got goosebumps on “Anywhere you go let me go too” from “All I Ask of You.”

Overall I liked Lewis, but he didn’t wow me as the Phantom. He didn’t seduce me like some other Phantoms have (or like Lewis did when he played Porgy a couple of seasons ago in in Porgy and Bess, for which he earned Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards). Lewis is one of Broadway’s solid leading men, however, and is always worth seeing. He also starred as Javert in the 2006 Broadway reimagining of Les Misérables and played the role in the original record-breaking West End production of Les Misérables and the all-star 25th Anniversary Concert at London’s 02 Arena.

Boggess, who returns to the role (she was one of the youngest actresses ever to play Christine Daaé, which she originated in the hit, revised Las Vegas production in 2006) gives a really nice – and different—characterization. Usually the young soprano is portrayed as naïve and unaware of the depth of the Phantom’s feelings toward her, but this Christine is stronger, more aware and truly torn between the Phantom, for whom she obviously has compassion, and Raoul, her true love. Well done.

For me, this time around, the stand-out performance was a bit of a surprise, given my pre-performance assumption that I would be blown away by Lewis. Instead, I loved Jeremy Hays as Raoul. Beautiful voice, charming good looks and a nice take on the childhood friend of Christine’s who falls in love with the grown-up woman. The character can sometimes seem undeveloped and a bit wimpy, but not here. I totally was rooting for him.
If you haven’t seen this staple of the theater, this production might be the one. Certainly, it’s the choice if you find yourself in New York with out-of-town guests.

Phantom Fun Facts:
  • The Phantom Of The Opera became the longest-running show in Broadway history on January 9, 2006 with its 7,486th performance, surpassing the previous record-holder Cats, also by Andrew Lloyd Webber and also produced by Cameron Mackintosh
  • On Jan. 26, 2013, the New York production reached another historic, unprecedented milestone: becoming the first and only Broadway show ever to celebrate 25 Years. Previously, in February 2012, it became the first and only Broadway show ever to reach milestone performance 10,000. 
  • Since its debut on January 26, 1988, the Broadway production has grossed over $950 million with total attendance nearing 16 million. Even now, it is consistently among Broadway’s highest-grossing shows and remains a box office champ. Earlier this year, the production shattered the house record at The Majestic by having its best weekly gross in its entire 26-year history.
  • With worldwide grosses estimated at more than $5.6 billion, Phantom is the most successful entertainment venture of all time, with revenues higher than any film or stage play in history, including Titanic, Star Wars and far surpassing the world’s highest-grossing film Avatar (at $2.8 billion). Worldwide, more than 65,000 performances have been seen by 130 million people in 29 countries and 150 cities in 13 languages. There are seven productions around the world.\
  • The musical has won more than 70 major theater awards, including seven 1988 Tony Awards (including Best Musical) and three Olivier Awards in the West End. The original cast recording, with over 40 million copies sold worldwide, is the best-selling cast recording of all time. Since September 2010, thousands of high school and college student productions of Phantom have been licensed through R and H Theatricals.
Phantom plays at the Majestic Theatre, 247 West 44th St., NYC. Performances are Monday evenings at 8, Tuesday evenings at 7, Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8, with matinees Thursdays and Saturdays at 2. www.PhantomBroadway.com.

Christians might also like to know:
-- No production notes, but I recommend it for older children.

**Note: The press representative for Phantom informs me that even though it sounded like it to me, none of the music has been written in a different key for Lewis. The only musical difference, he said,  (aside from sound design) is the addition of a trio in the Graveyard scene. While on the original London cast recording, it was never performed in its entirety until it was put in for Norm and Sierra’s opening night. (essentially it was a Phantom/Christine duet, with Raoul entering later without singing).

Sunday, July 6, 2014

At the O'Neill Homecoming

This Weekend is Homecoming for alums of the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. I was a Fellow at the National Critic Institute in 2008 and enjoyed spending the day Saturday, highlighted by a tour of Eugene O'Neill's boyhood home, Monte Cristo, and capped off by seeing I'm Gonna Pray for You So Hard by Halley Feiffer, one of the plays being presented as part of the National Playwrights Festival. For a full schedule visit http://www.theoneill.org/.
-- Lauren Yarger
The Whilte House on the grounds of the O'Neill

The beautiful grounds -- there will be a barbecue there tonight.

National Critics Institute Chris Jones interviews NY Post Columnist Michael Riedel, who said the upcoming Broadway show Finding Neverland will probably lend itself to his famous brand of ridicule because of the personalities involved.
The room at Monte Cristo which virtually is the setting for A Long Day's Journey into Night.

With Newsday's Linda Winer and NTI Associate Director Mark Charney.

Broadway Theater Review: Holler If Ya Hear Me

The Boom Box: Rappers Words, Music Lend Themselves to a New Version of Juke Box Musical
By Lauren Yarger
Instead of songs of Abba, Jersey Boys, Carole King or other composers from the Juke Box era forming the foundation for a plot to bring them together (and some do it better than others), Todd Kriedler uses the words and music of a more recent chart topper, the late hiphop/rap star Tupac Shakur, to tell a story of inner-city life in Holler If Ya Hear Me.

He and Director Kenny Leon (who won the Tony for his work on last season’s revival of Raisin in the Sun) bring the Juke Box Musical into a new time zone and create the “Boom Box Musical,” if you will, with tunes more modern than Mamma Mia, Jersey Boys or Carole King. While the two former musicals succeed because of the strength of their books, most in the genre don’t satisfy because the stories so obviously are just a means to presenting 20 to 30 popular tunes.

Holler If You Hear Me lands somewhere in the middle. This music is hardly the sing-along variety. Shakur’s lyrics express real, sometimes harsh emotions. The music is driving, with a loud beat befitting the tough streets of the Midwestern industrial city where the action (and choreography by Wayne Cilento) takes place. Shakur himself was a victim on the violence depicted (he was killed in a drive-by shooting 1996, though this story is not biographical). The plot is fairly predictable here, however, and characters fit neatly into stereotypes so that the action can move quickly from song to song.

A quick synopsis -- much like the plot:
John (Saul Williams, Slam) returns from a stint in prison to find that his girl, Corinne (Saycon Sengbloh) is now with his best friend, Vertus (Christopher Jackson). He tries to start over with a job at the Griffin, the local auto body shop owned by a father and his son, Griffy (Ben Thompson), who hopes one day everyone will be able to get along. There’s a gang taking over, however, and they kill Vertus’ younger brother, Benny (Donald Webber, Jr.) and threaten his mother, Mrs. Weston (Tonya Pinkins, who shines), if he doesn’t meet their demands.

All of the folks in the hood seem unable to resist becoming involved in the violence. Mrs. Weston begs her son to change his life so she can avoid having to bury another son. Also reminding the neighbors about the Good News is a Street Preacher (John Earl Jelks). The neighborhood folks all care for him in his homeless state and their care for him demonstrates what might be possible on the block if everyone can band together and resist the temptation to seek vengeance.

A large ensemble completes the cast which performs 21 musical numbers including “My Block,” “I Ain’t Mad at Cha,” “If I Die 2Nite,” “Thugz Mansion,” “Ghetto Gospel,” “Dear Mama” and the title song. The stage (designed by Edward Pierce based on original concepts by David Gallo) is stark, with minimal props. Projections (by Zachary G. Borovay) help set locations, but most impressive is the lighting designed by Mike Baldassari who expertly creates mood. When characters are down, it’s darker. When they are angry, lights become brash and move with the pounding beat of the music (which puts some of Shukar’s poems to notes and is supervised here by Daryl Waters).

Stadium seating is used to eliminate more than 500 seats on the orchestra level of the gigantic Palace Theatre to move the audience closer to the stage and to create a more intimate atmosphere. The typical Broadway crowd hasn’t yet embraced the hiphop/rap mix, however, so even with fewer seats, tickets aren’t flying out the box office and there were plenty available on all levels the evening I attended.

It’s worth the trip, though, especially if you are fan of the music – the audience members who were in seats were bopping along with the beat. All of them – young, old, black, brown, white, male, female – so  2Pac’s music still has appeal. And a couple of the tunes sound like actual Broadway-type ballads rather than what you might expect to come out of a boom box.


Holler If Ya Hear Me runs at the Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway at 47th St., NYC. http://hollerifyahearme.com/. CLOSING ANNOUNCED FOR JULY 20.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Much Ado About Nothing -- Shakespeare in the Park

The cast of The Public Theater’s free Shakespeare in the Park production of Much Ado About Nothing. Photo: Joan Marcus
Much Ado About Nothing
By William Shakespeare
The Public Theater
Shakespeare in the Park
THROUGH JULY 6

Cast:

Lily Rabe…. Beatrice
Hamish Linklater….Benedick
Steel Burkhardt…. Balthasar
Austin Durant…. Friar Francis, Sexton
John Glover…. Leonato
David Manis…. Antonio, Verges
Kathryn Meisle…. Ursula
Ismenia Mendes….Hero
Brian Stokes Mitchell…. Don Pedro
John Pankow…. Dogberry
Pedro Pascal…. Don John
Eric Sheffer Stevens…. Borachio
Zoë Winters…. Margaret
Caudiio.... Jack Cutmore-Scott
Matt Bittner, Alex Breaux, Paco Lozano, and Matthew Russell…. Ensemble

Enjoying the Stars Under the Stars at Central Park
By Lauren Yarger
Lily Rabe is Beatrice and Hamish Linklater is Benedick in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, thei first of two free offerings by the Public Theater at Central Park’s Delacorte Theatre this summer.

Other big names joining the cast are John Glover and Brian Stokes Mitchell

I hate re-telling Shakespeare plots in reviews since you either are familiar with them already, or will need Spark notes to follow if you’re not, so let this brief synopsis suffice (there’s also one in the program should you venture to the park):

It’s turn-of-the-century Sicily where Don Pedro, prince of Aragon, (Mitchell) visits his friend and governor of Messina, Leonato (Glover) along with two of his offers, Benedick and Claudio (Jack Cutmore-Scott). Claudio falls in love with Leonato’s daughter, Hero (Ismenia Mendes) while Bendick falls into scathing banter with long-time thorn-in-his-side Beatrice, Leonato’s insulting, quit witted niece.  

While acquaintances scheme to make Beatrice and Benedick fall in love, Hero and Claudio’s marriage is threatened when Don Pedro’s treacherous illegitimate brother, Don John (Pedro Pascal), plots to besmirch Hero’s reputation. Betrayal, false death and a helpful Friar (Austiin Durant) -- not unlike the plot of Romeo and Juliet -- ensue, but with more comedic results as everyone makes a big ado about nothing.

This production, directed by Jack O’Brien, who plays up bits for minor characters for humor, is light and fun and takes place on an imposing set designed by John Lee Beatty including sundrenched stucco balconies, vines, vegetables and palm trees blending in with the greenery of Central Park. Jane Greenwood designs the simple costumes that place the production around late 19th century. A four-man band directed by Nathan Koce serenades with accordion, horns, strings and woodwinds as well as vocal solos.

Rabe is entertaining as the feisty Beatrice. While some of the dialogue sounds stilted and doesn’t flow easily for some of the other performers, sitting under the stars listening to the Bard isn’t a bad way to spend three hours in New York (except for those annoying helicopters that kept flying overhead).

Tickets to the Shakespeare in the Park shows are free. Virtual ticketing is done by lottery online at www.publictheater.org on the day of the show. You also can stand in line at the Delacorte the day of the show beginning at noon (but the line starts forming way before that). Supporter tickets also are available. For more information, call (212) 539-8734.


The next production will be King Lear, starring John Lithgow, beginning July 22.

FREE SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK TICKET INFORMATION 
FREE TICKETS to The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park are distributed, two per person (age 
5+), at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park beginning at noon on the day of each performance. In 
order to allow as many different people as possible to attend free Shakespeare in the Park this summer, 
visitors will be limited to receiving free tickets to two performances only of each production. There will 
continue to be a separate line for accessible tickets for senior citizens (65+) and patrons with disabilities.

VIRTUAL TICKETING LOTTERY FOR FREE TICKETS will be available at www.publictheater.org on the day of the show.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Get Up Close with Broadway Theaters, History on Walking Tour

By Lauren Yarger
Summer is almost here and I know many of you are headed into the Big Apple. Every year I get tons of emails from readers asking which shows they should see while they are in New York, where to stay, where to eat and what to do besides see good theater.

One option that combines theater with seeing the sites in the Broadway Up Close Walking Tours. 

I took the The ACT One Tour with affable and knowledgeable owner Tim Dolan, right. Armed with a tablet for photos to enhance the tour, we began at the Nederlander Theatre on 41st street between 7th and 8th avenues and visited a number of theaters between there and 45th Street in Times Square in about two hours (additional tours -- Act Two -- also are available. You can't possibly see all 42 theaters in one trip!).The tour not only gives you a chance to stop at some of New York's beautiful Broadway theaters (we even stopped inside the former Empire Theatre, left, now the lobby of a multi-plex movie theater) and saw photos Tim (an actor when he's not giving tours) took when he was granted a rare visit to the supposedly haunted apartment atop the Belasco Theatre (below, right, my personal favorite -- the Tiffany stained glass and wood trim in there are gorgeous.)


We learned amazing history about rooftop parties on competing theaters on 42nd Street (did you know there once was a farm up there?) The tours are scheduled to last two hours and 45 minutes and cover a half mile of terrain without a break or a chance to sit, so comfortable shoes are recommended.

Broadway Up Close Walking Tours doesn't operate with a set schedule. They customize tours based on  travel needs. Tours are $30 per person.  Private tours and group rates (15 or more)  are available upon request.Contact info@broadwayupclose.com; 917-841-0187; http://www.broadwayupclose.com/

The Lyric, formerly Foxwood.


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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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