Thursday, February 14, 2019

Off-Broadway Theater Reviews: The Convent, God Shows Up, A Man for All Seasons

By Lauren Yarger
A trinity of Off-Broadway plays puts God and faith center stage:

Amy Berryman, Samantha Soule and Wendy vanden Heuvel. Photo: Ahron R. Foster


The Convent
By Jessica Dickey
Directed by Daniel Talbott 
Through Feb. 17

Playwright Jessica Dickey's  The Amish Project, a very fictionalized retelling of the very real tragic killing of Amish school girls in Pennsylvania, really rubbed me the wrong way, and her latest offering about faith, The Convent,  a world-premiere production by Weathervane Productions and Rising Phoenix Repertory, in association with Rattlestick Playwrights Theater also irritates.

In this exploration of spiritual awareness and self-discovery, directed by Daniel Talbot, a group of women gathers at a convent for an annual retreat (the medieval  "convent"  in the south of France is a courtyard designed by Raul Abrego.)

They are (as far as I could gather from the loose character development for most):
  • Jill (Margaret Odette), who seemingly has it all with a successful career and husband
  • Bertie (Amy Berryman) and bored heiress Dimlin (Annabel Capper), friends who return to the retreat together every year
  • Wilma (Lisa Ramirez), a nun who has lost her faith
  • Tina (Brittany Anikka Liu), a naive, non-stop talker who survived being a child in a cult commune
  • and mysterious Patti (Samantha Soule) who seems to be there to cause trouble for Mother Abbess (Wendy vanden Heuvel)
The women all arrive at the convent fleeing something, looking for something, assured by the Abbess that they are welcome at the retreat regardless of the circumstances that have brought them there. In what is revealed to be a cultish experience, rather than the spiritual retreat you might expect at a convent, the women, donning blue, modern habits (Costume Design by Tristan Raines), are asked to select a nomen card and to adopt the medieval nun on it in a role-play of sorts. 

They have "prayer" rituals in which they ask for the many things they want; they drink a hallucinogenic and are encouraged to confront the spirit of the person blocking them from knowing their true selves (projections designed by Katherine Freer enhance the images the women see).  Before the weekend is over, most have discovered that their true selves are lesbians. They also smoke a lot, which is very unpleasant in the small theater. The most interesting interaction comes between the abbess and Patti and we kind of wish they could have been more the focus of this misguided (it tries to be humorous), uneven play which seemed very long at 95 minutes without intermission.

The Convent runs at the Mezzanine Theatre at A.R.T./New York Theatres, 502 West 53rd St., NYC. Tickets are on sale at

Additional credits: lighting design by Joel Moritz; sound design by Erin Bednarz; fight direction by Unkle Dave’s Fight-House. 

-- Language (a lot)
-- Lord's name taken in vain
-- Homosexuality
-- Sexual activity

Christopher Sutton .Photo: Andy Evan Cohen
God Shows Up
By Peter Filichia
Directed by Christopher Scott
The Playroom Theater
Through Feb. 21

TV evangelist host Thomas Isaac Rehan (an entertaining Christopher Sutton) gets a surprise guest on his show when God Shows Up in an absurdest play by Peter Filichia getting a limited run at the Playroom Theater Off-Broadway. 

God (Lou Liberatore) turns out to be a middle-aged, average-looking guy wearing jeans and a casual shirt (Costume design by Michael Piatkowski) -- a stark contrast to Rehan's perfectly coiffed and expensively suited appearance. In between hawking tacky items available to those willing to send in donations to the ministry of "The Interfaith Church for You" in exchange for blessings and prosperity," Rehan interviews God and gets a few surprise answers in the process.

The bible is outdated,  God tells us, and he didn't say a lot of what is recorded in there any way. Marriage to one person is unsustainable and that is why there is so much divorce, he says. Sex is supposed to be fun -- for everyone including homosexuals -- and he likes Dr. Ruth. And oh, by the way, he also is part female and his feminine counterpart (Maggie Bofill) shows up to complete the picture. Why haven't people heard from them for so long? Because they have been staying on another planet they created that has their act together much better than we do here on earth. When tragedy strikes, Rehan is no longer able to hide behind a his mask.

While the premise is pretty typical for most shows attempting to wrestle with religious subjects (traditional God, the bible are all wrong; Christians are stupid and hypocrites) playwright Peter Filichia interjects humor so we don't take the conclusions too seriously. The theater critic knows how to craft a script, so characters are well developed better than most in a brisk 80 minutes directed by Christopher Scott. The silly pitches for books and other items available for donation are over the top, but amusing. 

Designer Josh Iocavelli includes items from just about every religion known to man as decorations in to set the scene for the TV evangelist's office set. The running of silent clips of televangelists at the conclusion of the play seemed an unnecessary dig.

God Shows Up  plays a limited run at The Playroom Theater, 151 West 46th St., NYC, through Feb. 21. Performances are Thursday-Sunday at 7 pm with additional performances on Feb. 18, 19 and 20 at 7 pm. Click here for tickets.

Additional credits:
Joan Racho-Jansen (lighting design) and Andy Evan Cohen (projection and sound design).

-- Language
-- God's name taken in vain

Michael Countryman and Carolyn McCormick. Photo: Jeremy Daniel
A Man for All Seasons
By Robert Bolt
Directed by Christa Scott-Reed
Fellowship of the Performing Arts
Through Feb. 24

Now here's the "religious" show you want to catch on stage while you can: a very good staging by Fellowship of the Performing Arts of Robert Bolt's classic A Man for all Seasons, directed by Christa Scott-Reid.

In the age of Henry VIII (Trent Dawson), one man stands up for his faith in the midst of pressure to give in to a lustful king's desires. That man is Sir Thomas More (an excellent Michael Countryman) who is torn between his loyalty to his friend Henry, who wants a divorce from Catherine of Aragon so he can marry Anne Boleyn and set about getting a male heir for the kingdom, and his loyalty to God, the real head of  the church, who says divorce is not an option. 

More treads carefully in politics with the likes of the Duke of Norfolk (Kevyn Morrow) Cardinal Wolsey (John Ahlin), Richard Rich (David McElwee), Thomas Cromwell (Todd Cerveris) and Archbishop Cranmer (Sean Dugan) careful not to oppose the king publicly, but eventually, Henry demands an oath More cannot give. His family, including his loving wife, Alice (Carolyn McCormick, who gives layers to the character), urge him to abandon his principles, support the king and stay alive. Rounding out the cast are Harry Bouvy as the Common Man and Kim Wong as Margaret More.

The production is well done on Stephen C. Kemp's mood-creating set with strong performances across the boards. The tale, set in the 1500s seems unnervingly relevant in 2019 America where it becomes apparent that not much in organized religion or politics has changed.

A Man for All Seasons runs at the Acorn Theatre, 410 West 42nd St., NYC through Feb. 24. 

Additional credits:
Costume Design by Theresa Squire; Lighting Design by Aaron Porter; Original Music and Sound Design by John Gromada; Dialect Coaching by Claude-Hill Sparks

-- No notes, but recommended for 12 and up

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Off-Broadway Review: A Number and 'Night Mother

Carla Brandberg and Erin Cronican in 'Night Mother. Photo by Russ Rowland.

Brandon Walker and Michael Stephen Clay in A Number. Photo by Russ Rowland
A Number 
By Caryl Churchill
Directed by Erin Cronican

'Night Mother
By Marsha Norman
Directed by Brandon Walker

Presented in rep by
The Seeing Place
Through Jan. 20

By Lauren Yarger
The Seeing Place presents two hard-hitting two-handers in rep in an intriguing study of  parent/child relationships.

In Caryl Churchhill's  A Number, Bernard (Brandon Walker) discovers that his father, Salter  (Michael Stephen Clay) -- or at least the man he thinks of as his father -- has been harboring some pretty dark secrets about their relationship. In fact, Bernard discovers he is one of "a number" of genetically cloned individuals who Salter had created to replace his biological son. Clay is intriguing as the father confronted in a pack of lies -- and emotions --  while Walker portrays a number of the clones confronting Salter. Just how are we connected to those we love?

In Marsha Norman's Pulitzer-Prize and Tony-Award-winning play 'Night Mother, a difficult, but loving mother-daughter relationship seems like any we might experience until we realize that the clock is ticking (literally) in what are the last minutes of life for Jessie (Erin Cronican), who plans to commit suicide right after she gives her mother (Carla Brandberg) her weekly manicure. . .
Brandberg is engaging, personifying both a woman oblivious to her daughter's emotions as well as a mother who loves her daughter and who is at a loss to help. Cronican's matter-of-fact delivery of Jessie's gut-wrenching lines adds to the building terror as we  -- and Mama -- realize she's serious about ending it all.

It's a nice pairing of works nicely presented on a set that works for both.

Additonal credits:
Lighting Design by Joyce Liao. Sound Design by Brandon Walker. Scenic and Costume Design by Erin Cronican. Stage Management by Mackenzie McGuire.

More info:
Tickets are $30 to $40 at the Paradise Factory 64 East 4th Street, NYC (enter the theater by walking down the short flight of stairs outside the building which leads to the lower level. )

-- Some language and mature themes

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Off-Broadway Theater Review: Williston

Kate Grimes and Robert LuPone. Photo: Jeremy Daniel
By Adam Seidel
Directed by Valentina Fratti
Miranda Theatre Company
Through Nov. 10

By Lauren Yarger
Something's not quite right in the small town of Williston, North Dakota.

That much is obvious just from the fact that oil company deal closers Barb (Kate Grimes) and Larry (Robert LuPone) are expected to share quarters in a trailer camp setting (drably designed Graham Kindred, who also designs the lighting). And how is it that their parent company didn't let them know that they were sending a new numbers guy, Tom (Drew Ledbetter) to bring in the lease on one of the largest and possibly most productive tracts of land? After all, the killer team of Barb and Larry has been working for years on "Indian Jim," the Native American holdout who is reluctant to allow drilling on his land.

Playwright Adam Seidel crafts a nifty three-hander where everything and everyone is not as it seems. A greedy corporate message takes a back seat in this work to the interaction among characters. We think we might know them. They may even think they know themselves, but when push comes to shove, .what they are willing to do to get ahead, make a buck and grab some power surprises all.

Deftly directed by Valentina Fratti, the actors are given the freedom to unwrap layers. Fratti keeps the action moving around the small stage to mimic the ever-changing status of the characters and their relationships to each other.  We even experience a meeting where six other people are unseen.

Grimes goes deep as the seasoned woman who knows how to hold her own and get ahead in a man's world. There are hints at more than just a business relationship between her and long-time collaborator, Larry. LuPone portrays a tough guy on the outside, but stuns with the revelation of a scared vulnerable man just under the surface.  Ledbetter strikes a nice balance between his character's innocent newbie facade and the ruthless power grabber who hides waiting for a chance to strike without mercy.

Just how far are people willing to go? In Williston, pretty far...

The limited run plays at IATI Theatre, 64 E 4th St., NYC, through Nov. 10 There is a clever surprise takeaway at the conclusion of the 90-minute production.

Additional Credits: costume design by Matsy Stinson, sound design by Margaret Montagna.

-- Language (lots of it)
-- Lord's name taken in vain (lots of times)

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Broadway Theater Review: The Waverly Gallery -- TOP PICK

Lucas Hedges, Elaine May, Joan Allen, David Cromer, Michael Cera. Photo: Brigitte Lacombe
The Waverly Gallery
By Kenneth Lonergan
Directed by Lila Neugebauer
Golden Theatre

By Lauren Yarger
The Waverly Gallery in Greenwich Village has seen better days, It's not longer a vital part of the art landscape. No one comes in or thinks what it has to offer is important. The same can be said for its owner, elderly Gladys Green, played with astonishing alacrity and pathos by Elaine May, who no doubt will be nominated for a Tony.

With her mind and hearing fading, Gladys spends her days at the gallery passing time waiting for someone to come in and buy the less than exciting art displayed on its walls. When she's not there, she lives in an apartment behind the shop. As her health deteriorates, the anxiety of her family increases, especially as she repeats family stories ad nauseam and keeps messing with her hearing aid settings so the family has to incessantly yell or adjust them for her. Her grandson, Daniel (Lucas Hedges, who snagged an Oscar nomination for his role in playwright Kenneth Lonergan's film "Manchester by the Sea," making a noteworthy Broadway debut) lives next door and increasingly spends sleepless nights as his grandmother rings his bell to check in or ask for help.

Daughter Ellen Fine (a fabulous Joan Allen) knows what needs to happen. Her mother can't be on her own and must move in with her and her husband, Howard (a jovial David Cromer getting some time on stage instead of off stage where he has distinguished himself as one of Broadway's finest directors). She dreads it, though, and doesn't think she will survive the arrangement.  The family gets a little help from Don Bowman (Michael Cera), an awkward guy from Boston who fancies himself a talented artist. Gladys offers him a place to stay and his dream come true: a show in a Greenwich Village gallery. Don helps look after Gladys a bit, but disaster strikes when the building owner decides to turn the gallery into a restaurant and gives Gladys her notice.

The story is told through the eyes of Daniel, who steps out of the action (with excellent lighting by Brian MacDevitt)  to serve as a narrator from time to time. His rapport with the audience is not severed when he returns to the action and we cannot help but appreciate his subtle humor.

David Zinn's set creates a feeling of imposing doom as a second story of brick towers above the gallery location with exterior walls blocking escape. Director Lila Neugebauer expertly guides time passages and our heart breaks as Gladys deteriorates. Allen's performance as the daughter torn between loves, duty and despair is gut-wrenching. May's fear as she realizes what is happening to her -- then when she doesn't understand any more what is happening to her -- is palpable. The 86-year-old gives a bold, extraordinary performance that should not be missed.

May's iconic show An Evening With Mike Nichols and Elaine May played the Golden Theatre  in 1960. She is a Grammy Award winner and an Academy and Golden Globe Award nominee (and like I said, be will be adding Tony-Award nominee to that in May...)

Lonergan's script is a delight. He packs an amazing amount of character development, engaging dialogue and emotion in to just two hours and 10 minutes. It deserved its Pulitzer Prize nomination in 2000.

More information:
The Waverly Gallery plays at the John Golden Theatre, 252 W, 45th St., NYC.

Additional Credits:
Ann Roth (Costume Design), Leon Rothenberg (Sound Design), Tal Yarden (Projection Design) and Luc Verschueren and Campbell Young Associates (Hair and Makeup Design).

--God's name taken in vain

Listen to my review on the radio at

Broadway Theater Review: The Ferryman

The company. Photo: Joan Marcus
The Ferryman
© 2018 Joan Mar
The Ferryman
By Jez Butterworth
Directed by Sam Mendes.
Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre

By Lauren Yarger
It's 1981 in Northern Ireland and the happy Carney clan has gathered for the harvest, but the local priest (Charles Dale) and an ominous visitor  from the IRA (Stuart Graham) threaten their happy celebrations. The family finally discovers what happened to their beloved Seamus, who disappeared more 20 years ago, leaving behind his wife, Caitlyn (Laura Donnelly) and son, Oison (Rob Malone). 

They stayed on with Seamus's brother Quinn (Paddy Considine) and his invalid wife, Mary (Genevieve O'Reilly) and their seven children (one of whom is a baby who charms the entire audience). Filling out the household, in which playwright Jez Butterworth evokes the best of the eclectic family of You Can't Take It with You, are humorous Uncle Pat (an engaging Mark Lambert), not to be confused with Aunt Pat (Dearbhla Molloy) and Aunt Maggie Far Away (Fionnula Flanagan), the elderly aunt who entertains the children with her adventures in other times and places as she fades in and out of dementia while parked just off the action in her wheelchair. 

A slow-witted Englishman named Tom Kettle (Justin Edwards) and some visiting Corcoran cousins, including Shane (Tom Glynn-Carney), who might have ties with Seamas's disappearance, add to the tension -- and the crowd on stage. Rounding out the ensemble are Dean Ashton, Glynis Bell, Peter Bradbury, Trevor Harrison Braun, Sean Frank Coffey, Will Coombs, Gina Costigan,  Fra Fee, Carly Gold, Cooper Gomes, Holly Gould, Carla Langley, Matilda Lawler, Conor MacNeill, Michael McArthur, Willow McCarthy, Colin McPhillamy, Bella May Mordus, Griffin Osborne, Brooklyn Shuck, Glenn Speers, Rafael West Vallés, and Niall Wright.

Sam Mendes directs the Royal Court Theatre production with excellence, setting an undercurrent of unrest despite the seemingly happy existence of the family, marked by singing, dancing (choreography by Scarlett Mackmin) and cute animals trained by William Berloni. But inside, dark secrets threaten to cloud the external. The ferryman, after all, is a reference to Caron, the mythologcal transporter of souls across the River Styx. A surprise twist at the end of the three-hour, 15 minute run will have you gasping.

Rob Howell helps create the atmosphere with scenic and costume design, aided by Peter Mumford;s lighting design), Nick Powell's sound design and original music.

More information:
The Ferryman opened at The Royal Court in May 2017 and was the fastest selling play in the theater’s history. The sold-out show transferred to the Gielgud Theatre in London’s West End. In London, The Ferryman won three 2018 Olivier Awards, including Best New Play (marking Butterworth’s second Olivier win), Best Actress Donnelly and Best Director  Mendes (marking his fourth Olivier win). 

The Ferryman runs at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 W. 45th St., NYC.

Additional credits:
Tim Hoare (associate director), Benjamin Endsley Klein (resident director), Campbell Young Associates (hair, wigs and makeup design), Terry King (UK fight director), Thomas Schall (US fight director), Majella Hurley (UK dialect coach), and Deborah Hecht (US dialect coach).

-- Language
-- Violence
-- God's name taken in vain

Listen to my review of The Ferryman on radio:

Monday, September 24, 2018

New Victory Theatre Will Present Stage Version of Sendak's 'Where the Wild Things Are'

The Maurice Sendak Foundation announced that it has commissioned the first major and only full-length stage play adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are. 

This stage adaptation follows a 1984 opera and 2009 film based on the classic children’s story. The New Victory Theater (a project of The New 42nd Street),New York City's premier performing arts nonprofit entirely devoted to kids and families, has committed to produce the play, marking its first foray into original production. The creative team for the production is in formation and will be announced at a later date.

The Foundation commissioned Sendak’s dear friend and collaborator, Arthur Yorinks, to write the script.

The Foundation remains steadfast in preserving Maurice Sendak’s artistic legacy and will remaster and reissue Sendak’s books with publishing partner HarperCollins in the coming years. Earlier this month, HarperCollins published Presto and Zesto in Limboland, a book discovered years after Sendak’s passing, co-authored by Arthur Yorinks. This is the third book collaboration for Yorinks and Sendak, predated by The Miami Giant (1995) and Mommy? (2006).

The University of Connecticut will house all Sendak’s book art in the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection by March 2019. Construction on an archive attached to Sendak’s Connecticut home has also been completed and will open to the public, by appointment only, in late 2019. This archive will house the rest of Sendak’s art. Additionally, the Sendak Fellowship & Workshop that has been a part of the Foundation since Sendak was alive will continue in 2019, taking place on the grounds of his home.

For more information on The Maurice Sendak Foundation visit For more information on Yorinks visit

The New Victory Theatre is located at 209 West 42nd St., NYC. 

Friday, September 7, 2018

New York City Children’s Theater Announces 22nd Season

In its 22nd season, New York City Children’s Theater (NYCCT) will premiere three theater productions for families that celebrate the power of imagination
Join NYCCT for three original, entertaining and enriching theater productions and along the way you'll help a friend who has trouble falling asleep, learn why some fairy tales never get old and live out your dreams without leaving your room.
Our 2018-19 season will also include classes, story time events and more!
Stanley always has trouble falling asleep - even counting sheep doesn't help! When he receives an invitation to visit the Kingdom of Pillowland, he sets off on an exciting adventure with his friends Finn, Quinn and you!

From the company that brought you Please Bring Balloons comes a new interactive play for your youngest theatergoers based on the hit song by Laurie Berkner.

Written by Barbara Zinn Krieger (Ballerina Swan)
Devised by Jonathan Shmidt Chapman (Up and Away)
Directed by Khalia Davis (Judy Moody and Stink: The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt)
Based on the song by Laurie Berkner

The Pete at The Flea Theater | 20 Thomas Street, NYC 10007

Select Sundays through April 14th at 10am and 12pm.

Best for ages 2-5 | Tickets: $25.00

The Emperor’s New Clothes and More Magical Stories by Hans Christian Andersen
A normal day at the park becomes so much more when a young girl gets swept away into four of Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tales: The Princess and the Pea, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Nightingale and The Ugly Duckling.

The company that brought you Interstellar Cinderellainvites you to discover why some fairy tales never get old.

Adapted for the Stage by Barbara Zinn Krieger (Interstellar Cinderella, Wanda’s Monster)
Devised and Directed by Adrienne Kapstein (War Horse, Wanda’s Monster)
Original Music by Charles Greenberg (Young Charles Dickens)

Playing at Theatre Row, a program of Building for the Arts NY, Inc.
410 West 42nd Street, NYC 10036

November 24th - December 22nd
Saturdays and Sundays at 11am and 2pm

Best for ages 5-8 | Tickets starting at $29.25

This is Sadie
What do you do when you get up before your parents on a Saturday morning? If you’re six-year-old Sadie, you take your favorite stuffed animal on a world-wide adventure, without ever leaving your bedroom!

From the company that brought you Ballerina Swan and the Nutcracker comes a new dance/theater show that celebrates the power of imagination!

Choreographed by Stephanie Klemons (Hamilton)
Scenario by Barbara Zinn Krieger (Ballerina Swan and the Nutcracker)
Based on the book by Sara O’Leary

Playing at Theatre Row, a program of Building for the Arts NY, Inc.
410 West 42nd Street, NYC 10036

March 30th - April 21st
Saturdays and Sundays at 11am and 2pm

Best for ages 3-8 | Tickets starting at $29.25

“Our beloved Artistic Director and Founder, Barbara Zinn Krieger, has worked with fantastic, established artists to create three world premiere productions that promise to delight families this season. Our shows will demonstrate to young theatergoers that curiosity, collaboration and a sense of wonder are all tools that can help change their world.” - Andrew Frank, Executive Director
Engage with Us:
Join us for pre-show activities in the lobby before every performance and take a picture with the cast after every performance!
Talk about the show with the cast and/or members of the creative team after select performances. See which performances include talkbacks here:
Engage with NYCCT on social media: Facebook,InstagramTwitterPinterestYoutube
#NYCCT | #IfYouImagine | #ImaginewithNYCCT 
Sensory Friendly Performances:
December 9th at 11am | The Emperor’s New Clothes…
April 13th at 11am | This is Sadie
For more information on sensory friendly performances, visit:
Group Sales:
Save 15% or more by bringing 10 or more people to a show! Visit or email for more information.
Also Happening This Season at NYCCT:
Boogie Woogie Books
Come play, sing and boogie woogie with New York City Children’s Theater!
Children up to 5 years of age and their grown ups will explore children’s books through live music, songs, movement and imaginative play in these 45-minute fun-filled classes!
Fall Session | September 22nd - November 17th
Spring Session | January 12th - March 16th
Park Avenue United Methodist Church 106 East 86th St, New York, NY 10028
To register, visit or call 646-250-1178
Story Time at Strand Books  
Join us throughout the year for a reading of a children’s book complimented by a craft and/or music class.

Pillowland | Saturday, September 15th at 11am
Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales | Saturday, November 17th at 11am
This is Sadie | Saturday, March 16th at 11am
Harvey, the Child Mime | Saturday, June 15th at 11am

Middle School Playwriting Competition

Now in its 5th Year!

NYCCT is seeking short plays from some of the most talented playwrights in New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut: Middle School Students!                 
Five (5) grand prize winners will receive a staged reading of their play, performed by professional actors at Theatre Row in May 2019, as well as another weekend of staged readings with Broadway pros in CT sponsored by The New Paradigm Theatre. Every entry will receive feedback from a theater professional.

For more information on the competition, please visit:       

About New York City Children’s Theater:
New York City Children’s Theater programs cultivate children’s growth in the areas of emotional intelligence, community building and responsible decision-making. The result is empathetic, creative and independent thinkers who make a positive impact on their world.
In 1996, New York City Children’s Theater began as the family theater and education program of the Tony Award-winning Vineyard Theatre. It became an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2001.

For more than 20 years, our local and nationally recognized arts-in-education programs and professional theater productions have served over 300,000 children and adults across all five boroughs and surrounding communities in the tri-state area.
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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 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. Her play "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

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

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

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women.

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 Episcopal Actors' Guild.

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.


All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


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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