Monday, May 11, 2009

Review: Everyday Rapture


A Rapturous Treatment of a Walk Away from Religious Roots

By Lauren Yarger
Faced with choosing to believe that either she is a speck of dust or that the world was created especially for her, actress Sherie Rene Scott chose the latter and pens her journey away from her “half” Mennonite roots to Broadway fame in Everyday Rapture, playing Off-Broadway at Second Stage Theatre.

Scott shares her experiences with the audience in a script co-written with Dick Scanlan and offers a number of songs (music direction by Carmel Dean). She’s backed up by singers Lindsay Mendez and Betsy Wolf on a set designed by Christine Jones that evokes thoughts of a cosmic connect-the-dots (lighting by Kevin Adams).

A rabbi (or was it a Muslim or a Buddhist, she wonders) tells her to carry the two opposing approaches to life written out on sheets of paper carried in both hip pockets. She embraces the idea, seeing it as a way to avoid having to choose between them as she searches for a way to “be one with God while a lot of people clapped.”

Torn between her desire from a very early age to be a star and an upbringing that frowns on prideful pursuits (the only cool thing about being Mennonite, she tells us, is that you’re supposed to be non-judgmental), Scott gets her first chance to perform for patients at a hospital. “No matter what God said, I was going to modulate,” she says. A series of photos and depictions of Jesus are projected on a screen while Scott sings “You Made Me Love You, I Didn’t want to Do it…”

Her friend, Jerome, tells her he thinks she has what it takes to make it big. Fueled by his encouragement and disillusioned by hateful anti-gay protests by people from her church at his funeral, Scott heads off to New York when it’s time for her Rumpsringa (a Mennonite tradition where those coming of age are allowed to experience life outside of the sheltered community). There she meets a street magician named Ray who gets her pregnant, but sends her money for an abortion when she returns to Kansas. She comes to a realization that keeping the two slips of paper in her pockets doesn’t allow her to avoid making a choice. “You do have to choose,” she says. “It’s either or. I chose life. My own.”

She goes on to achieve success on Broadway and reaches out to an awkward boy who posts a video on YouTube of him lip syncing to her rendition of “My Strongest Suit” from Aida (her turn as Amneris in the original Broadway recording is one of my favorite listens). She becomes increasingly frustrated, however, when her plans to reach out to the boy result in his refusing to believe that the person contacting him really is the Broadway star. This sequence, where we get to hear the song, while a talented Eamon Foley acts out the boy’s outrageous moves behind the frame of a video screen is one of the most engaging in the production. It’s weakened by a refocus of attention on Scott, however.

Through the course of her journey, Scott shifts from worship of Jesus to Judy Garland to Fred Rogers (of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood) and finally to her young son. She tells him not to search for a four-leaf clover because she doesn’t believe in luck. She believes people make their own luck – until he finds one on his first attempt. She takes this as a sign that her son is lucky and when the family cat eats the treasure, she curses and tries to strangle the animal, because she wants her son to be lucky, not a speck of dust.

She concludes with thoughts about how the Mennonites always taught she should be prepared for the Rapture (the return of Christ), but she has found, instead, that by embracing a world created for her, she experiences a rapture every day.

“May your Rumspringa last forever,” she says.

Everyday Rapture plays at Second Stage Theatre, 307 West 43rd St. at 8th Avenue, NYC, through June 14. For tickets, visit http://2st.com/seasonShow.php?show=6.

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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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