Saturday, September 4, 2010

James Barbour Among Those to Participate in Annual Broadway Blessing

Service will be held 7 pm Monday, Sept. 13 at St. John the Divine
James Barbour (right), Carol Hall, Anthony Newfield, Catherine Russell, Charles West, The Broadway Blessing Choir, Project Dance and other distinguished guests will be among the performing artists taking part in the 14th annual Broadway Blessing, 7 pm Monday, Sept. 13 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC.

The interfaith service of song, dance and story has been bringing the theatre community together every September since 1997 to ask God’s blessing on the new season.

This year’s event is dedicated to Lynn Redgrave (1943 – 2010) who delivered a moving theatre reflection at last year’s Blessing, talking about her faith, her career and her battle with breast cancer, and offering a joyous recitation of Psalm 23. This year, the audience will sing that Psalm in her honor.

The evening will celebrate the 50th anniversary of two American classics: The Fantasticks and To Kill A Mockingbird.

The Fantasticks, which opened Off Broadway in 1960, has become the longest-running production in the history of the American stage and one of the most frequently produced musicals in the world. Charles West, a member of the cast, will sing “Try To Remember.” West has appeared on Broadway in The Scarlet Pimpernel, Show Boat and Cyrano The Musical.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, published in 1960, remains as relevant today as it did a half century ago. Broadway Blessing welcomes actor Anthony Newfield, who recently played the role of Atticus Finch at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts in California. Newfield’s recent Broadway credits include The Royal Family and Waiting for Godot.

The Broadway Blessing Choir under the direction of Bruce Neswick, director, cathedral music, will perform a number of hits from Broadway musicals from 1960, in keeping with the 50th anniversary theme, followed by an audience “sing-a-long”. The Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, Dean and The Rev. Thomas Miller, canon for liturgy & art from the Cathedral will be joined by Rabbi Jill Hausman of The Actors' Temple and The Right Rev. Andrew St. John, rector of the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration (The Little Church Around the Corner), as officiants in the 75-minute program.

Founded and produced by theater and religion writer Retta Blaney, Broadway Blessing was conceived as a service of song, dance and story to seek God's grace on the new theatre season. Past participants have included Marian Seldes, Frances Sternhagen, Boyd Gaines, Edward Herrmann, Anna Manahan, KT Sullivan, Mary-Mitchell Campbell, J. Mark McVey, Tituss Burgess, Kathleen Chalfant, Billy Porter, Elizabeth Swados, Ken Prymus, Three Mo’ Tenors and Broadway Inspirational Voices.

Broadway Blessing is free; reservations are not needed. For more information visit http://www.stjohndivine.org/.

Broadway Blessing is made possible by the generous support of the Church of the Transfiguration (Little Church Around the Corner) and many wonderful friends. he cathedral is located at 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, at 112th Street.

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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.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

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.

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All material is copyright 2008- 2017 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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