Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Accomplished Artists Are Students

When we’re young and starting out in the arts, we acknowledge that we don’t know everything, that mentors are a godsend and that constant learning is a part of becoming the best actor, director, musician, technician, dancer or singer we can be. As skills (and accolades) increase, however, artists sometimes can lose site of those truths. We stop learning, fear competition and don't take the time to help others starting out.

I was encouraged last week at the Drama League Awards in New York to discover that some very accomplished and honored persons in the theater have not forgotten the importance of gleaning from those with whom they work.

Bartlett Sher, honored for excellence in directing (see list of winners below), spoke of a teacher who had influenced him, said that he and his cast and crew had learned a lot from each other and that “everything is passed on.” Patrick Stewart, star of Macbeth, was cited for serving as the team’s leader who poured into his fellow cast members. All the young actors in the production “want to be him and work with him again,” we were told.

Distinguished Performer winner Patti LuPone honored those who had helped make her performance possible:
Gypsy director Arthur Laurents as a director who allowed the cast to reinvent something that “wasn’t broke”
•the producers for their boldness in restaging a musical that had just been on Broadway five years ago
•the other actors for their ensemble skills

“I’m still a student, “LuPone said, “…awed by what I see on a stage.”

Somehow I think it’s that teachable spirit that allows Ms. LuPone and others like her to reach new heights in their ability to perform. It’s when we feel we have “arrived” and that we’re the one everyone else should be looking to for inspiration that we forget who the Master teacher is and from whom the talent comes in the first place.

Make a new commitment this week to learn from all those God has placed in your circle and to pass on His wisdom to those who view you as mentor.
“You'll only hear true and right words from my mouth;
not one syllable will be twisted or skewed.
You'll recognize this as true—you with open minds;
truth-ready minds will see it at once.
Prefer my life-disciplines over chasing after money,
and God-knowledge over a lucrative career.
For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth;
nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.” (Proverbs 8:8-11 THE MESSAGE)

Winners of the Drama League Awards:
Distinguished Production of a Play
August: Osage County
Distinguished Production of a Musical
A Catered Affair
Distinguished Revival—Play
Distinguished Revival—MusicalSouth Pacific
Distinguished Performance Award
Patti LuPone, Gypsy
Julia Hansen Award for Excellence in Directing
Bartlett Sher, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific
Unique Contribution to the Theatre
Ellen Stewart and LaMaMa E.T.C.
Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre
Paul Gemignani

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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 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. She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com 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 reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com


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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