Wednesday, January 28, 2015

You Can Take It with You After All

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Cast Members of Broadway's You Can't Take It With You 
Prepare Meals for New Yorkers at God's Love We Deliver 
By Lauren Yarger
It seems you can take it with you after all -- God's love, that is.

Six cast members from Broadway's You Can't Take It With You recently volunteered to help prepare meals at Gods Love We Deliver, New York's leading provider of individual meals to people who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves. The meal prep took place at the organization's temporary Brooklyn home on Flushing Avenue, where it has moved while its new SoHo building, made possible by a $5 million gift from designer Michael Kors, is constructed.

More than 26,000 meals are delivered each week to more than 2,600 clients, according to Emmett Findley, manager of communications, The organization is non-sectarian an. People of faith or no faith are served and welcome to serve, Findley said.

The castmates obviously took something else with them to the kitchen -- their obvious camaraderie. Julie Halston (Gay Wellington), Byron Jennings (Mr. Kirby), Anna Chulmsky (Alice Sycamore), Fran Krantz (Tony Kirby), Reg Rogers (Boris Kolenkhov) and Nick Corley (G-Man) ladeled up chicken mishroom soup into plastic containers which were stacked in crates and wheeled off by volunteers. Easy banter ensued; Chlumsky bopped to the beat of music playing; Halston mastered "swirling" and "burping" techniques with aplomb.

Press representatives and Press Agent Alana Karpoff of Jeffrey Richards Associates, who arranged for the cast to volunteer , also pitched in. Cast members increased their speed and switched jobs. One sobering thought that touched us all, however, was that no matter how many containers they filled, more still were needed. There are that many people in need.

For a review of the show (which closes Feb. 22), click here.


About God's Love We Deliver:

Meals are delivered in all five boroughs of New York City, Newark and Hudson County, New Jersey. All services are provided free of charge to clients, their children and to the senior caregivers of senior clients, without regard to income, without a waiting list. "Because we believe the combination of hunger and serious illness is a crisis, we deliver food within 24 – 48 hours of first being contacted." To volunteer, click here. For more information, visit https://www.glwd.org:
History:
In 1985, a hospice volunteer named Ganga Stone paid a visit to an AIDS patient that changed her life. The patient, Richard Sayles, was too ill to cook for himself. Ganga's compassion took hold, a meal was prepared and delivered on the next visit, and an epiphany was born: Something as basic as delivering a meal could bring dignity and recognition to a desperate situation.

Ganga's experience then drove her to a second epiphany. The severity of Richard's situation demanded something more than simply delivering food. It required preparing nutritionally-tailored meals that would support an individual's specific medical treatment. She researched his needs and was on her way again, with a new meal in hand, when she was stopped by a minister in the neighborhood who recognized her. He asked what she was doing, she told him, and he replied, "you're not just delivering food ... you're delivering God's love."

And Ganga said, "That's the name."

With Jane Best, an organization was founded. Within two years, 50 nutritionally-tailored meals were being delivered daily from an Upper West Side kitchen.

In 1995, through the generosity of individual donors, foundations, and corporations, God's Love purchased a kitchen and home in SoHo. It also published the first of what would be 15 widely-acknowledged nutritional guides. A decade later it was able to expand its mission to provide meals nutritionally tailored for those homebound and suffering from cancer, Alzheimer's, MS, and other debilitating diseases.

All of this has been made possible by the compassion and dedication of now nearly 8,000 volunteers who chop, prepare, and deliver these meals every year.

This they do, at dawn and at dusk, in the bitter cold and the sweltering heat; giving the gift of their hearts and their time to deliver 4,000 meals each weekday, to clients in all five boroughs, and New Jersey. No one has ever been turned away for any reason.

We always mention that over twelve million meals have been served since we began. A number that understandably dumbfounds Ganga and Jane, as we understandably are dumbfounded by the enormity of the task from which they never wavered. What began as an urgent response to the AIDS epidemic has grown to be an urgent response to all those who are too ill to cook for themselves. And everyday we still hear the echoes of a lone woman walking down a hallway, carrying dinner and a little company to a neighbor in need.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Wiesenthal Offers Special $20 Ticket Tonight

Tom Dugan. Photo: Carol Rosegg
Today marks National Holocaust Day, and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The Off-Broadway show Wiesenthal will play tonight's performance and is offering s special $20 ticket for patrons purchasing at the box office of the Acorn Theatre at Theater Row, 410 West 42nd St.

For a review of the show, visit http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/2015/01/off-broadway-review-wiesenthal.html

Most Broadway Shows Will Play Tonight

Most shows will perform evening performances tonight as scheduled, with the exception of Disney’s Aladdin and The Lion King. Theater goers should check official show websites to confirm that the specific show is playing. For questions about exchange or refund policies, contact point of purchase.

Monday, January 26, 2015

All Broadway Shows Cancelled Tonight (Jan. 26) Due to Storm -- Other Closings Too

As a result of the travel restrictions put in place by government authorities and additional safety precautions implemented due to severe weather, all Broadway performances tonight will be cancelled. 

Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of The Broadway League, stated, “Now that the storm has arrived, I’d like to reiterate that the safety and security of theatregoers and employees is everyone's primary concern. As a result of the 11 pm travel ban and other travel restrictions and safety precautions implemented by government authorities on behalf of the winter storm, evening performances will be cancelled tonight.  We will send out an official notice with information about tomorrow’s performances as soon as possible, or no later than 6 pm today.”

For information about exchanges, theater goers should contact their point of purchase. Check Broadway.org for updates.
OTHER CLOSINGS:
59E59 Theaters is closed Monday, Jan. 26 and will remain closed on Tuesday, Jan. 27. All Tuesday evening shows are cancelled. Tuesday evening ticket holders should contact their point of purchase, Ticket Central, on 212-279-4200. 59E59 Members should contact the Member: E:Line 212-753-5959 ext 104. Opening night festivities for The Road to Damascus will be rescheduled.

ALL FOR ONE THEATER  has canceled Another Medea tonight and Devil in a Box on Tuesday night. For updates go to wwwallforonetheater.org.

ALERTS:
MetroNorth: Extra trains will depart Grand Central Terminal between 1 and 4 pm with regular schedules between 4 and 5 pm and fewer trains than a regular rush hour between 5 and 8 pm.
Because of reduced ridership, some trains will be cancelled or combined. Check schedules at http://bit.ly/1arccwk and listen for announcements. Because of the expected severity of the storm, evening and overnight service may be further curtailed or suspended. For complete details and service updates during the storm, visit http://alert.mta.info/status/3,

Off-Broadway Review: Wiesenthal

Tom Dugan. Photo: Carol Rosegg

A Visit with the ‘Jewish James Bond’
By Lauren Yarger
The man who brought more than 1,100 Nazi war criminals to justice is brought to life Off-Broadway by Tom Dugan, who stars in Wiesenthal, the one-man play he penned about the Holocaust survivor-turned-human-rights activist.

Set on the eve of his retirement in 2003, Simon Wiesenthal packs up his office at the Jewish Documentation Center in Vienna, Austria (designed by Beowulf Boritt) and reflects on his life and successes in hunting down Nazi war criminals.  

Shame was a most dangerous force, he recalls, and he tells his story in the hope that hearing it will keep history from repeating itself.

He gives voice not only to the more than 6 million Jews who lost their lives, but also to an additional 5 million Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, Gypsies, disabled persons and others whom Hitler targeted for extinction.

The play, presented in 90 minutes without intermission, touches on Wiesenthal’s passions: his determination to bring Nazis to justice and his resolve to live a life of purpose and love with his family. This, he tells us, exacts the perfect revenge.

Directed by Jenny Sullivan, Dugan gives a solid performance, moved by his own passion for the subject.

"I am thrilled to make my New York debut with Wiesenthal," Dugan said. "My father was a WWII veteran who received The Bronze Battle Star and The Purple Heart. He liberated the Buchenwald Concentration Camp in 1945.  Although I was raised Irish Catholic, I later married a Jewish woman, and now we are raising our two boys in the Jewish faith, so Simon Wiesenthal's message of tolerance has a deep resonance for me considering my father's place in Jewish history and my future in the Jewish community.”

The play itself could use a few tweaks – it doesn’t touch on any of the controversy associated with Wiesenthal and there is an unnecessary tease about his “final question.” Also, some staging, obviously inserted to give the actor something to do, interrupts the flow.

Otherwise it is a great opportunity to learn more about history and about the “The Jewish James Bond” who helped shape it. Most compelling is a scene where Wiesenthal talks about Adolph Eichmann, an average man and bookkeeper, who became one of the major organizers of the Holocaust. A photo of the criminal is chillingly lighted (design by Joel E. Silver) while the actor speaks about the man who sent Jews on the trains to the death camps. Wiesenthal was instrumental in tracking down Eichmann at his Buenos Aires hideaway and bringing him to court, where he was tried, found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death.

The production recently posted a closing date of Feb. 22, so catch it while you can. As a special bonus, the producers of Wiesenthal invite survivors of the Holocaust to attend an upcoming performance as their guest, and offer a special $45 ticket for friends and family to share the experience with them. To arrange for tickets, e-mail wiesenthaltickets@gmail.com with your request at least one week prior to your preferred performance date (subject to availability).

Wiesenthal plays at the Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row, 410 W. 42nd St., NYC. Performances: Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm; Wednesday and Saturday at 2 and 8 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets: $69 http://www.wiesenthaltheplay.com; (212) 239-6200.

Christians might also like to know:
-- No content notes, but difficult material, so think older when thinking kids.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Broadway Theater Review: A Delicate Balance with Glenn Close and John Lithgow

John Lithgow and Glenn Close. Photo: Brigitte Lacombe
Finding Balance More Difficult Than Delicate in Albee’s Family Drama
By Lauren Yarger
If you like pondering unknowns and enjoy angst about keeping up appearances, then Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance, getting a limited-run revival on Broadway, is the play for you.

Spending almost three hours with some unlikable characters trying to find their balance in the midst of unrealistic circumstances didn’t tip the scales for me, however, even if this play did win the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1967 and despite the fact that it offers considerable star power with Glenn Close (in her return to Broadway for the first time in 20 years) and John Lithgow heading the cast.

Close and Lithgow portray Agnes and Tobias, a well-off suburban couple who appear to have the perfect life -- at least to those outside their opulent home, metaphorically designed by Santo Loquasto with rooms and passages just beyond view. Come inside, and things aren’t so perfect.

Tobias and Agnes don’t share a bed or really communicate about anything important. Tobias deals by drinking a lot and at one time, sought the solace from another woman. Agnes is the perfect wife, keeping the household functioning, even if disfunctionally. Her boozing, plain-spoken sister, Claire (Lindsay Duncan), has been staying with them and is a constant reminder that things aren’t perfect in the family manse. She and Tobias relate in way that continually upsets the balance between him and Agnes. Now, the couple’s daughter, Julia (Martha Plimpton), has announced she will be moving in too following her fourth failed marriage.

Additional angst ensues when long-time friends Harry (Bob Balaban) and Edna (Clare Higgins) drop by and announce their intention to move in because they have been driven from their own home by some unknown terror. They take up residence in Julia’s room and she resents being displaced. And speaking of fear, will Tobias be able to work up the courage to ask Harry and edna to leave? Home is where you belong, but where is home? And do years and years of marriage and friendship count for anything at all?

Albee raises these interesting questions, but these folks are so unlikable and their situations so bizarre -- they range from annoying conversations in snobby language (Dialogue Coaching by Deborah Hecht) to Claire’s zany yodeling while accompanying herself on the accordion to Julia’s death threats at gunpoint -- that it’s hard to engage or feel that the elements ever will stop rocking the scales to find a balance point where they can settle and focus.

It’s fun to see Close back on stage, but her dynamic presence doesn’t quite fit into the character of trapped Agnes, despite Costume Designer Ann Roth’s attempts to soften her with soft, flowing blouses. Lithgow, in contrast, is a mess in a mishmash of plaids and patterns – much like his character.

I kept wishing Close (who has wowed on stage and screen with numerous strong performances) and the talented Plimpton were playing roles that would challenge the depth of their abilities. Director Pam MacKinnon doesn’t even get a full turn from Duncan, whose role gets most of the laughs, or from London stage gem Higgins. These performances both seem acted, rather than felt.

Lithgow is solid, and moving as weak, puzzled Tobias, but the part doesn’t really give him far to go. Balaban, who entertains in films like “Waiting for Guffman,” gives the most cause for smile here. He elicits chuckles with just a look or by delivering lines in ways that otherwise wouldn’t strike us as funny.

Two hours and 45 minutes and two intermissions later, I felt as though the balance had been more difficult than delicate.

A Delicate Balance plays through Feb. 22 at the Golden Theatre, 252 West 45th St., NYC. Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm; Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; Matinees Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm. Tickets: $60 - $155: http://www.adelicatebalancebroadway.com.

Christians might also like to know:
-- Lord's name taken in vain 






Tuesday, January 13, 2015

You Can't Take It With You Volunteers for God's Love We Deliver

Richard Thomas. Photo: Joan Marcus
To carry over the holiday spirit into the new year, cast members from the You Can’t Take It With You Pulitzer Prize-winning revival by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman will be volunteering their time and working as a group at God’s Love We Deliver. The cast will be helping prepare meals in the kitchen on Tuesday, January 20th for a three-hour afternoon shift.

God's Love We Deliver is the New York City metropolitan area's leading provider of nutritious, individually-tailored meals to people who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves. Founded in 1985 when one woman began delivering food on her bicycle to a man dying from AIDS, God's Love now cooks 5,000 meals each weekday, delivering them to clients living with life-altering illnesses in all five boroughs of New York City, Newark and Hudson County, New Jersey. All of our services are provided free of charge to our clients, their children and to the senior caregivers of our senior clients, without regard to income, and we have never maintained a waiting list. Because we believe the combination of hunger and serious illness is a crisis, we deliver food within 24 – 48 hours of first being contacted. Visit www.glwd.org for more information.

With over 26,000 meals delivered each week, the kitchen staff relies on volunteers to help prepare these meals for over 2,600 clients. Some of the tasks that the You Can’t Take It With You cast may be doing include chopping onions, wrapping rolls, peeling potatoes and making meatballs.

---

You Can’t Take It With You recently welcomed Emmy Award-nominated TV and film star Anna Chlumsky (“Veep”, My Girl) and Emmy Award-winning screen and stage star Richard Thomas (“The Waltons”, “The Americans”, Race) who took over the roles of Alice Sycamore and Paul Sycamore, respectively on Tuesday, January 6th, 2015.

While Anna Chlumsky is making Broadway debut in this role, Richard Thomas is reuniting with James Earl Jones who last appeared on stage together in their Broadway debuts in 1958’s Sunrise at Campobellowhen Thomas was seven.

You Can’t Take It With You began previews on Tuesday, August 26th, 2014, opened on Sunday, September 28th, 2014 at the Longacre Theatre (220 West 48th Street) and extended its initial limited run to Sunday, February 22nd 2015. Tickets are sold on Telecharge.com or by calling 212-239-6200.

The production is directed by six-time Tony Award nominee Scott Ellis (The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Curtains, 1776). Anna Chlumsky and Richard Thomas joined the cast on Tuesday, January 6th joining Tony Award and Outer Critics’ Circle winner James Earl Jones (Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, Fences, The Great White Hope) as Martin Vanderhof, Tony Award winner Elizabeth Ashley (Take Her, She’s Mine, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Gore Vidal’s The Best Man) as The Grand Duchess Olga, Tony Award nomineeAnnaleigh Ashford (Kinky Boots, Wicked, “Masters of Sex”) as Essie Carmichael, Tony Award nomineeJohanna Day (Proof, August: Osage County) as Mrs. Kirby, three-time Drama Desk nominee Julie Halston (Anything Goes, The Divine Sister) as Gay Wellington, Byron Jennings (The Merchant of Venice, Inherit the Wind) as Mr. Kirby, Patrick Kerr (Stage Kiss, The Ritz) as Mr. De Pinna, Fran Kranz(Death of a Salesman) as Tony Kirby, Tony Award nominee Kristine Nielsen (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) as Penelope Sycamore, Tony Award nominee Reg Rogers (Holiday, The Royal Family) as Boris Kolenkhov, Will Brill (Act One) as Ed Carmichael, Nick Corley (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) as a G-Man, Theatre World Award winner Crystal A. Dickinson (Clybourne Park) as Rheba, Austin Durant(War Horse) as a G-Man, Marc Damon Johnson (Lucky Guy) as Donald, Karl Kenzler (Mary Poppins) as Henderson, and Joe Tapper (Witnessed By The World) as a G-Man.


The design team includes: scenic design by Tony Award nominee David Rockwell (Kinky Boots, Hairspray), costume design by 2014 special Tony Award recipient Jane Greenwood (Act One, Waiting for Godot), lighting design by two-time Tony Award winner Donald Holder (South Pacific, The Lion King), sound design by Jon Weston (The Bridges of Madison County), and hair and wig design by Tom Watson(Act One, Waiting for Godot). Three-time Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown (The Bridges of Madison County, The Last Five Years, Parade) composed original music for the production.

You Can’t Take It With You is produced by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Jam Theatricals, Dominion Pictures, Gutterman & Winkler, Daryl Roth, Terry Schnuck, Jane Bergère, Caiola Productions, Rebecca Gold, LaRuffa & Hinderliter, Larry Magid, Gabrielle Palitz, Spisto & Kierstead, SunnySpot Productions, VenuWorks Theatricals, Jessica Genick and Will Trice.

www.youcanttakeitwithyoubroadway.com

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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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