Friday, May 22, 2009

Fun at the Outer Critics Circle Awards

I enjoyed a very well planned and written Outer Critics Circle awards program at Sardi's last week. The winners already had been announced (for the list of winners, click here), so this was a chance to mingle with them as they received their scrolls.

First, I owe a large hug to whomever did the seating arrangements. I had a front-row seat next to the delightful Elyse Sommer of Curtain Up and at the same table as Best Actress in a Musical co-winner Josefina Scaglione. (Angela Lansbury was supposed to be at our table, but another commitment forced her to change her arrival time to just before she was presented with the award for best featured actress in a play for Blithe Spirit. )

I loved the more intimate setting, and most of the winners seemed to sense it as they shared more personal thoughts when they accepted their awards. One them came through: that we all are involved in the theater because we love it and we have lots of fun doing what we do.

Presenter Tyne Daly adopted a mock British accent, feigning intimidation form the cast of The Norman Conquests who also presented. The three young boys who star as Billy Elliot received a special award for their performance. All were darling, every bit young men whose egos appeared unaffected by their catapult into the limelight this year, as they thanked their director Stephen Daltry, who also took home an award for Best Direction of a Musical. He most graciously thanked the boys for their part in the project and then walked over to their table where he embraced each in heartfelt appreciation. Very touching.

Pulitzer-prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage accepted her award for Best Play, Ruined, saying it was a blessing to be part of this theater season and to have been able to touch so many people with her moving tale set in war-torn Africa.

Scaglione, who is just as lively in person as when she's causing Tony to fall in love with her in West Side Story, dedicated her award to her country (Argentina) and to her family.

Perhaps the highlights was hearing Lansbury joke about "an old ham like me" needing to play a character like Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit. She joked about people coming to the theater to see Jessica Fletcher, the character she is famous for playing for years on television's "Murder She Wrote." She also made some gracious and heart-felt remarks thanking us critics for writing about theater so people will come.

Overall, it was a very pleasing get together and reaffirmed my feeling that it's a blessing to be part of this group of talented critics, with whom I also enjoyed getting to visit.

For photos from the event, click here.

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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. 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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