Monday, March 31, 2014

Robert Lopez, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Fran Drescher will announce Drama Desk Nominations

Academy Award® winners Robert Lopez (Book of Mormon) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez ("Let It Go" from "Frozen") and two-time Emmy® and Golden Globe® Nominee Fran Drescher (Cinderella; "The Nanny") will announce the nominations for the 59th Annual Drama Desk Awards.

The announcements will be made Friday, April 25 at 54 Below. The news conference and the awards show, hosted by Laura Benanti June 1 at Town Hall, will be live-streamed on www.TheaterMania.com. Tickets to the 59th Annual Drama Desk Awards are available to the general public atwww.dramadeskawards.com.

The Drama Desk was founded in 1949 to explore key issues in the theater and to bring together critics and writers in an organization to support the ongoing development of theater in New York. The organization began presenting its awards in 1955, and it is the only critics' organization to honor achievement in the theater with competition among Broadway, Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions in the same categories.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Broadway Theater Review: Rocky

Margo Seibert and Andy Karl. Photo:Matthew Murphy
Stage Adaptation of Rocky Packs a Knockout Punch
By Lauren Yarger
Rocky the musical? If you are a fan of the 1976 movie starring Sylvester Stallone and Talia Shire like I am, you probably were putting on your boxing gloves and ready to challenge anyone who was going to mess with the story when you heard they were turning it into a Broadway musical. I know I was.

But I should have knownn I could trust Director Alex Timbers. I have loved everything this guy has helmed from Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, to  Here Lies Love to Peter and the Starcatcher, so I should have know that if anyone could make Rocky go 15 round son the stage, it would be he. He doesn't disappoint.

Stallone himself co-wrote the book with Thomas Meehan and they have added depth and dimension to some  characters while sticking close to the original film script, And the staging, with video design by Don Scully and  and scenic design by Christopher Barreco is a knockout. And that's before you hear the score by Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime) with orchestrations Stephen Trask and Doug Besterman that incorporate just enough of the "Rocky" themes from the movie to satisfy.

Andy Karl stars as Rocky Balboa, a down-on-his-luck, second-rate heavyweight boxer from Phillie who gets by being a strongman for mobster Gazzo (Eric Anderson). He gets a second chance when world heavyweight champ, Apollo Creed (Terence Archie), selects him for a gimmicky bout for the crown -- mostly because of Rock'y's catchy nickname: The Italian Stallion. Karl sounds a lot like Stallone and looks like him in costumes designed by David Zinn.

Rocky begins his training (yes, the eggs and the stairs are in there, movie fans, and even bring applause) and a romance with Adrian (Margo Seibert), the very shy, introverted sister of Paulie (Danny Mastrogiorgio), his meatpacking plant worker friend who looks and sounds a lot like Shire. ). Mastrogiorgio is the only miscast actor among the bunch. Helping Rocky train  is Mickey (Dakin Matthews), the crotchety, old manager of the gym who previously had thought Rocky was washed up. This championship bout is Mickey's ticket to the big time too.

And what a bout it is. The fighters parade down the house aisles in a theater that is transformed into the Philadelphia Spectrum, complete with  Flyers hockey banners and a Jumbotron. A portion of the audience relocates to stage seating and two audience sections stand cheering in the corners for their boxer. The rest of the audience is ringside as the staging moves out into the house and rotates. It's as nail-biting as the movie as the two boxers battle to stay standing through 15 rounds.

Choreography is by Steven Hoggett and Kelly Devine.Slow-motion technique and video projections designed by Don Scully and Pablo N. Molina and other special effects design by Jeremy Chernick enhance the storytelling.

The fresh book gives us insight into the relationship between Adrian and her brother and parents, as do some songs that Seibert gets to belt. We also find out that Rocky, Paulie and Adrian have known each other since grade school, which also gives further insight into the relationships. Stallone and Meehan even give us a few more female characters in the form of a couple of friends for Adrian and Gloria (Jennifer Mudge), a female interest for Paulie though their relationship isn't quite clear.

Though song lyrics by Lynn Ahrens provide helpful back story, other songs, like "My Nose Ain't Broken," contain hokey, silly phrasing with Rocky singing about the fact that his nose "works nice," "don't need no stitches" and "don't need no ice....." Karl was just under some notes the night I attended, as well.

Overall, a surprisingly satisfying night at the theater.

Yo! See it at the Winter Garden Theatre, 1634 Broadway, NYC.  http://www.rockybroadway.com.

Christians might also like to know:
-- Language
-- God's name taken i vain

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Broadway Theater Review: All the Way


Bryan Cranston Photo: Evgenia Eliseeva

History Comes to Life and LBJ is Larger Than Life
By Lauren Yarger
Almost three hours about reluctant President Lyndon Baines Johnson breezes by in Robert Schenkkan's play starring a sure-to-be-Tony-nominated Bryan Cranston (TV's "Breaking Bad") in a riveting Broadway debut.

Bill Rauch directs the drama, set just after the assassination of John F. Kennedy and through Johnson's re-election bid. The seats of congress surround the stage (Christopher Acebo, design) and projections behind them (Shawn Sagady, design) change the location of the action. LBJ doesn't want to be president, but he proves himself worthy of the Oval office as he steps up to take on the nation's civil rights battle.

"What's the point of being president if you can't so what's right?" he asks.

He enlists Hubert Humphrey (Robert Petkoff) to help him negotiate with Martin Luther King (Brandon R. Dirden), solicits the support of Washington Post Publisher Katherine Graham (Betsy Aidem, who also plays Lady Bird) and does political battle with a host of contemporary political characters played in multiple roles by a large ensemble cast.

"If you get in my way, I'll crush you," the no-longer second fiddle politician says.

The ensemble includes Eric Lenox Abrams, J. Bernard Calloway, Rob Campbell, Brandon J. Dirden, James Eckhouse, Peter Jay Fernandez, Christopher Gurr, William Jackson Harper, Michael McKean, John McMartin, Christopher Liam Moore, Robert Petkoff, Ethan Phillips, Richard Poe ,Roslyn Ruff, Susannah Schulman, Bill Timoney and Steve Vinovich.

Standing out as the one person LBJ can't manipulate -- and for a solid performance -- is Michael McKean as FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Also standing out from the crowd, because of his uncanny resemblance to the real governor, is Rob Campbell as George Wallace. Dirden sounds like King and Aidem, with some hair and wig design by Paul Huntley and costuming by Deborah M. Dryden, looks like the first lady.

It's heavy on the male perspective (as 1960s politics was -- and well, the same could be said of 2014 politics, I suppose). Aidem gives Lady Bird dignity, but we don't fully understand why she's OK with his infidelity. King's wife, Coretta (Ruff), also gets to look wounded over her husband's betrayal, but the women stay behind a facade just like real political wives were expected to do in 1964 -- or 2014.

The 2014 audience, following recent stories of Christian bakery owners told by courts they have to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, react to references in the play about state's being left to decide who gets served at cafe counters. Also getting a laugh is the assurance that the FBI has been integrated because two black agents are allowed to drive the director.

A derogatory remark about women, however, got no reaction from the audience. A joke about men referring to unattractive women with no personalities as "nice" got a roar, however. Some things haven't changed.....

Rauch ads some nice touches that kept me from brooding too long, however. Some staging has separate conversations taking place at the same time on stage with seamless continuity as characters step in and out of them. Phone conversations begin on the phone, then somehow become one-on-one conversations. And in perhaps some of the best direction I've seen in a long time, LBJ and MLK start out as opposites, then gravitate toward each other until they are giving practically the same message.

All the Way is a chance to see history come to life and to witness a memorable performance by Cranston that could go down in the history books itself, if he get a Tony nod.

All the Way  plays at  the Neil Simon Theatre, 250 West 52nd St., NYC, until June 29. http://allthewaybroadway.com/.

Christians might also like to know:
-- Sexual dialogue
--Language
-- God's name taken in vain

Broadway Theater Review: The Bridges of Madison County




Tweaked Book Provides Bridge to Background of Characters
By Lauren Yarger
Marsha Norman's book for the stage musical of The Bridges of Madison County gives us a better understanding of the characters everyone knows from Robert James Waller's bestselling novel and the movie based on it starring miscast Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood.

Add to the book a score and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown (Parade, The Last Five Years, 13, Songs for a New World), not to mention the likes of Kelli O'Hara, Stevhen Pasquale and Hunter Foster lending their considerable singing voices, and we have quite an impressive musical trying to find a place on a Broadway stage.

Helping it are is of the Great White Way's freshest directors, Bartlett Sher. It all plays out against a vast Iowa backdrop that echoes the emotions of the characters, thanks to excellent lighting design by Donald Holder. Brown's lyrics, given almost operatic spans, help tell the story and explore the thoughts of the characters as they sing.

O'Hara is Francesca, a war bride who never has quite fit into the simple farming life she has shared with husband, Bud (Foster) after the soldier brought her home as his wife after meeting her in Italy. They've raised two children, Carolyn (Caitlin Kinnunen) and Michael (Derek Klena), but for Francesca, there's always been something missing. She discovers what she has been longing for in Robert (Pasquale), a National Geographic photographer, who has come to shoot the famous bridges of Madison County for the magazine. They meet when Francesca's family is away at a neighboring state fair, and fall in love.

They have an affair, then grapple with what to do before the family returns. Robert has never been one to settle down and urges her to come away with him. Francesca has always wanted to travel and is bored on the farm, but can't quite come to grips with leaving her children, or hurting Bud, who always has been kind, if not exciting.

Their liaison doesn't go unnoticed by neighbors Marge (a delightful Cass Morgan) and Charlie (Michael X. Martin, who's a perfect straight man) and added to their dilemma is the question of how one or both of them would be able to stay in the wholesome, close-knit community not tolerant of scandal.

Norman's fully developed characters make us care about them and her exposition gives us a clear picture of why the characters -- all of them, not just the main ones -- are the way they are and how they feel -- something neither the film nor the original book did as well. The addition of Robert's ex wife, Marian (Whitney Bashor) who gets a song too, "Another Life," lets us see what Robert left behind and why it didn't work as he begins his relationship with Francesca.

Thankfully, we also get to hear Foster (Urinetown) sing as Norman keeps us up to date on what's happening with him and the kids through flashbacks,  scenes at the fair and phone calls home. Bud is more present in this version than any of the others -- and that seems right to understand Francesca's tie to him.

Overall, I liked it -- more than I expected to, though there's room for improvement. The two-hour-and 40-minute run time is a bit on the long side and could easily be remedied by cutting the ending which seems to go on forever trying to put in everything that happens in the original story. If you're going to make changes to the book any way, why not eliminate a bummer of an ending?  There are some odd direction choices, too. Sher has the cast taking seats on the edges of the action, which works in reminding us that Francesca and Robert have others -- yes a whole community -- to consider as they puzzle about their relationship, but doesn't work so much when a lone guitar player is left on stage to watch the couple get intimate in bed....

Kelli O'Hara and Steven Pasquale. Photo by Joan Marcus
The music is well bodied and layered and O'Hara, who has one of the finest sopranos on Broadway (Sher directed her in Light in the Piazza and South Pacific), is always a delight to hear. Pasquale, making his Broadway musical debut, takes his place as a silver-voiced leading men. Catherine Zuber designs the costumes that put us in the period, though no one looks sweaty enough. I have been to the the bridges of Madison County in the middle of summer, and let me tell you, it's HOT.

The Bridges of Madison County plays at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 West 45th St., NYC through May 18. http://www.broadway.com/shows/bridges-madison-county/

Christians might also like to know:
--Lord's name taken in vain
--Sexually suggestive lyrics
-- Nudity

Friday, March 14, 2014

John Glover Joins Drama Desk Panel on Shakespeare


Distinguished American actor John Glover (Witch/A Porter/Murderer 3 in Lincoln Center’s Macbeth) will join Drama Desk’s “Why Shakespeare? Why Now?” panel Friday, April 4 (11:45 am to 2:30 pm) at Sardi's..

He joins previously announced panelists actors Michael Pennington and Scott Shepherd and directors Daniel Sullivan and Julie Taymor—in the lively discussion exploring the reasons why New York’s current theater season has such a distinctive Shakespearean flavor. Carol Rocamora, an educator, critic, playwright, translator, and Drama Desk member, will be the moderator.

New York’s theater season has offered a numbe rof Shakespeare productions. Shakespeare’s Globe productions of Twelfth Night, or What You Will and Richard III (in repertory at the Belasco Theater), Lincoln Center Theater’s Macbeth, the Bard’s The Comedy of Errors (Shakespeare in the Park), King Lear and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (both by Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn), and the Wooster Group’s Cry, Trojans! (Troilus & Cressida).

The luncheon will be followed by the panel discussion. Tickets—$50 for Drama Desk members and $60 for non-members—may be purchased in advance, online at DramaDesk.org, or directly at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/932325. To order by phone, call 212-352-3101.

Drama Desk Awards, given annually in a number of categories, are the only major New York theater honors for which productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway compete against one another in the same category. Barbara Siegel is chairperson of the Drama Desk nominating committee. Theatermania.com will present the 59th Annual Drama Desk Awards June 1 at The Town Hall.   

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Laura Benanti Will Host the Drama Desk Awards

Photo: (© David Gordon)
Drama Desk and Tony Award winner Laura Benanti (Gypsy, Women On The Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) will host the 59th annual Drama Desk Awards.

For the third consecutive year, TheaterMania will present the awards ceremony and Joey Parnes Productions will produce and manage the show. TheaterMani CEO Gretchen Shugart is the managing executive producer of awards, which will be written by Bill Rosenfield and directed by Jack Cummings III (co-founder and artistic director of Transport Group). The awards will be presented at 8 pm Sunday, June 1 at Town Hall, 123 West 43rd St., NYC.

"I am thrilled to bring my particular brand of idiocy to what is usually a very classy affair. #ForThePeopleByThePeople," Benanti said.

The nominations announcement news conference will be held 11 am Friday, April 25 at 54 Below and will be live-streamed on www.TheaterMania.com.

Tickets to the 59th Annual Drama Desk Awards are available at www.dramadeskawards.com.

The Drama Desk was founded in 1949 to explore key issues in the theater and to bring together critics and writers in an organization to support the ongoing development of theater in New York. The organization began presenting its awards in 1955, and it is the only critics' organization to honor achievement in the theater with competition among Broadway, Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions in the same categories.

The 2013-2014 Drama Desk Nominating Committee is composed of: Barbara Siegel, Chairperson, (Author and Freelance Critic); Morgan Jenness (Dramaturg; Columbia & Pace University Professor); Samuel L. Leiter (Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Theatre, CUNY); Sandy MacDonald (freelance; TheaterNewsOnline.com); Chad McArver (Lighting and Set Designer; Professor, Fordham University); Martha Wade Steketee (Editor and Contributor, Chance Magazine; UrbanExcavations.com); and James Wilson (Theatre Professor, CUNY; Co-Editor of JADT).

The 2013-2014 Board of Directors of the Drama Desk is composed of: President Isa Goldberg (The Broadway Channel), Leslie (Hoban) Blake (City Arts; Two on the Aisle), Charles Wright (A+E Networks), Richard Ridge (Broadway World), Arlene Epstein (South Shore Record & Herald Community Newspapers), Elysa Gardner (USA Today), Randy Gener (USA Editor, Critical Stages; Contributor, NPR), John Istel (Freelance), Edward Karam (offoffonline.com), David Kaufman (Author & Freelance), William Wolf (Adjunct Professor, NYU &wolfentertainmentguide.com), Lauren Yarger, reflectionsinthelight.com, BroadwayWorld and www.theaterlife.com.

In addition to Shugart, Robert R. Blume and David S. Stone, in association with Renee McCurry, are producers of the awards.

Friday, March 7, 2014

League of Professional Theatre Women Present Awards, Hold Auction

Tyne Daly
The League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW), a not-for-profit organization committed to promoting visibility and increasing opportunities for women in the professional theatre, is pleased to recognize the talents of six outstanding women: Zoe Caldwell, Judith Dolan, Joanna Sherman, Sondra Gorney, Meiyin Wang and Katherine Kovner. 

The awards will be presented at the League’s 2014 Awards Celebration and Big Mingle Reception 6:30 pm Monday, March 10 at The Irene Diamond Stage (The Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd St., NYC. Tickets are $100 for members, $135 for non-members, $250 for a VIP ticket which includes premium seating:
www.brownpapertickets.com/event/567322<http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/567322.

In connection to the awards, LPTW is running an online auction. Tyne Daly is the Auction Celebrity Chair; Pat Addiss and Mari Lyn Henry are the Co-Chairs. The auction runs through March 13 at 11:59 pm. Special prizes include tickets to the new Broadway production of Terrence McNally’s Mothers and Sons and a backstage tour and meeting with star Daly after the show. Also, Kinky Boots tickets with a backstage tour, restaurants, getaways, art, and other unique experiences.

Four-time Tony Award©-winner Caldwell will be presented with The Lifetime Achievement Award by Tony Award©-winner Audra McDonald.

The Ruth Morley Design Award was initiated in 1998 in honor of costume designer Ruth Morley, one of the profession's leading designers for theatre and film who also served on the LPTW Board of Directors. It is given annually to an outstanding female theatre designer in the field of costumes, scenery, lighting, or special effects. This year the award will be presented by Gregory Boyd to Judith Dolan, Tony Award©-winning costume designer.

A one-time special award will honor actor, author and League member Sondra Gorney for her dedication to the values and the mission of the League of Professional Theatre Women. It will be presented by Mary Miko.

In April 1999, the LPTW received a bequest from the Lucille Lortel estate to establish a fund which would be given annually to “an aspiring woman in any discipline of theatre who is showing great creative promise and deserves recognition and encouragement.” This year's award will be given to Katherine Kovner, artistic director of The Playwrights Realm.

The Lee Reynolds Award, in memory of producer and League member Lee Reynolds, is given annually to a woman or women active in any aspect of theatre whose work through the medium of theatre has helped to illuminate the possibilities for social, cultural or political change. Joanna Sherman, artistic director of Bond Street Theatre, will be presented with the award by Cynthia P. Schneider.

The Abady Award is given in memory of Josephine R. Abady, a stage and artistic director, and leader of the nonprofit theatre movement in the United States. The award is given annually to a woman emerging theatre artist who has created work of cultural diversity. This year's recipient is Meiyin Wang, director of the Devised Theater initiative and co-director of the Under the Radar Festival at The Public Theater. She will be presented with the award by Susan Feldman.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Off-Broadway Theater Review: Stage Kiss -- Playwrights Horizons

Jessica Hecht and Dominic Fumusa. Photo: Joan Marcus
Art Imitates Life Imitating Art Imitating Life in Laugh-A-Minute Stage Kiss
By Lauren Yarger
Watching Stage Kiss, a new play from Pulitzer-Prize finalist Sarah Ruhl (Dear Elizabeth, In the Next Room, Dead Man's Cell Phone), made me want to seek out the playwright and give her a big kiss on both cheeks. I haven't laughed that much at a play since last year's Tony Award winner Vonya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang.

In fact, there is a lot to smile about in this play.

To start off, it's just funny. An actress known in the program only as She ( a commanding Jessica Hecht) gets a part in a really awful play:

"I want to kiss you all day!

"And I you—"

"Until I am breathless with desire. The way I was when I was eighteen. Do you remember the lake?"

"I think I hear your husband."

"Hang it all!"

"Oh, darling. How can we have been apart this long?"

"I do not know. I do not know....."

If that isn't bad enough, the man who has been cast as her lover in the overly melodramatic play is none other then He (Dominic Fumusa), her former lover in real life. The two try to be all professional and try to keep their growing passion a secret from the befuddled, passive-aggressive director (a riotous Patrick Kerr) and her steady, dependable banker husband (Daniel Jenkins), but the stage kisses called for in the script make it very difficult. The idea of having her passionate lover pull out of the role, leaving Her at the mercy of his nervous, gay understudy, Kevin (Michael Cyril Creighton), who comes in for some hysterically funny open-mouth landings for his kisses, just isn't an option, however. (Creighton is a hoot.)

The two finally succumb to their passions and move into His cramped, dive of an apartment, much to the distress of Her husband and daughter, Angela (Emma Galvin), and His gullible girl fiend from the Midwest, Laurie (Clea Alsip).

The happy endings of theater don't necessarily translate to real life, however, and some difficult choices and surprises await.

Though there is a lot of humor infused throughout the script (and kudos to Ruhl for being able to write bad dialogue for the awful plays withing the play -- it's harder than you think), there also is a lot of insight and Director Rebecca Taichman strikes a nice balance between the two. The characters aren't He and She by accident. They really are You and Me and express that something in all of us that longs to be loved and wants what we can't have.

Neil Patel designs the set, which does double duty as locations for the characters lives and the sets for the plays. In a nice effect, one of the sets fades away as new direction is found for a life.

A few tweaks might tighten the two-hour-and-10-minute production, especially in the second act. And a broken ankle suddenly doesn't seem to be broken at one point as the victim is able to walk around on it without a cast or any type of support. Other than that, this is one fun show. Check out the photo booth and the Kiss Wall in the lobby which add to the atmosphere. 

Stage Kiss plays at Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd St., NYC, has been extended through Apri 6. http://www.playwrightshorizons.org/shows/plays/stage-kiss/

Christians might also like to know:
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Sexual dialogue
-- Two women kiss
-- Two men kiss
-- Language

Quick-Hit Off-Broadway Theater Review: Murder for Two

Joe Kinosian and Brett Ryback. Photo: Joan Marcus
Murder for Two
Directed by Scott Schwartz
Book and Music by Joe Kinosian
Book and Lyrics by Kennel Blair
Starring Joe Kinosian and Brett Ryback
New World Stages 

What's It All About?
A murder who dun it, done by two actors. Joe Kinosian and Brett Ryback play all the suspects -- in this farce reminiscent of The 39 Steps and A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, just on a smaller scale. The show's slogan, "They put the laughter in manslaughter" will give you some of idea.... The main set piece is a piano which gets played by both (sometimes in duet) as they relate the facts of a zany murder that has taken place at what supposed to have been a surprise birthday party for victim. Kinosian, with enending energy and over-the-top comic chops, plays most of the suspects, including the victim's wife, a ballet star and a 12-member boys choir. Ryback plays a police officer trying to solve the case to earn his detectives badge.

What are the Highlights? 
It's a silly, fun 90 minutes without intermission. Fun interaction with the audience.

What Are the Lowlights?
Slow-moving  and a bit confusing at first, it finds its stride as the plot thickens.

More Information: 
Murder for Two plays at New World Stages Stage 5, 340 West 50th St., NYC. http://murderfortwomusical.com.

Christians might also like to know:
-- Sexual actions


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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.

Copyright

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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