Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lights are Bright on Broadway Awards Announced

Dan Gordon, author of Broadway's Irena's Vow and Radio City Rockette Cheryl Cutlip, founder of Project Dance, are recipients of the 2009 "The Lights Are Bright on Broadway" awards presented by Masterwork Productions, Inc. to individuals or organizations making a difference in the Broadway community through faith.
For the story, click here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Twelfth Night in the Park with Hathaway, Esparza, McDonald Begins Previews

The Public Theater's star-studded production of Twelfth Night under the stars in Central Park begins previews tonight.

Directed by Dan Sullivan, the Shakespeare in the Park production stars Michael Cumpsty, Clifton Duncan, Raúl Esparza, Herb Foster, Leslie Harrison, Anne Hathaway, Slate Holmgren, Kevin Kelly, David Kenner, Hamish Linklater, Dorien Makhloghi, Audra McDonald, David Pittu, Ray Rizzo, Jay O. Sanders, Stark Sands, Baylen Thomas, Zach Villa, Jon Patrick Walker, Julie White Charles Borland, Andrew Crowe, Steve Curtis, Christopher Layer, Robin LeMon and Julie Sharbutt

Twelfth Night will run June 10-July 12 at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park with an official press opening on Thursday, June 25 at 8 pm. Bank of America returns as lead sponsor of Shakespeare in the Park 2009. For additional information about Shakespeare in the Park, visit The Public Theater website at www.publictheater.org

Twelfth Night , one of Shakespeare’s most beloved romantic comedies, is a time-honored story of cross-dressing and mistaken identity that follows the romantic adventures of Viola and her identical twin Sebastian, both shipwrecked in the enchanted dukedom of Illyria.

This summer, The Public Theater will again offer a limited number of free tickets through a Virtual Line, available at www.publictheater.org. The process will be the same as last year where on the day of a show, users can log on to the virtual line anytime between midnight and 1 pm to register for tickets for that evening’s performance. After 1 pm that same day, users can log on to see if they have received tickets through the Virtual Line, which they can then claim at the Delacorte Theater Box Office between 4:30 and 7:30 pm. A valid photo ID is required for all Virtual Line pick-ups at the box office. The Public Theater will also be implementing a Senior Virtual Line this year which functions the same way as the regular virtual line but registrants must be 65 or older to be eligible.

Summer Supporter tickets for the show are available for a tax-deductible contribution of $170. These reserved seats are only available for a limited time to ensure that the highest number of free seats will be available to distribute to the general public on the day of the show. Summer Supporter tickets help to underwrite production expenses. Supporter tickets are available at The Public Theater Box Office at 425 Lafayette Street or online at www.publictheater.org.

Twelfth Night will feature original music by symphonic folk-rock band Hem, scenic design by John Lee Beatty, costume design by Jane Greenwood, lighting design by Peter Kaczorowski, sound design by Acme Sound Partners, fight direction by Rick Sordelet, and choreography by Mimi Lieber.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

June 14 Curtain for 4 Shows

Four Broadway shows are scheduled to close Sunday, June 14: Reasons to Be Pretty, Exit the King, Guys and Dolls and Joe Turner's Come and Gone.

Exit and Joe Turner had posted the closing date as the end of their limited runs; Reasons and Guys and Dolls have announced the closings following the Tonys where neither won awards.

Geoffrey Rush won the Tony for best actor in a play for Exit the King and Roger Robinson took home the featured actor Tony for Joe Turner's Come and Gone (so maybe a rush at the box office will result in extensions? We can only hope, as both are well worth seeing.)

Meanwhile, Accent on Youth and The Philanthropist will close as scheduled this month as well, on June 28.

Monday, June 8, 2009

2009 Tony Award Winners

Billy Eilliot, God of Carnage Win at 2009 Tonys
Billy Elliot and God of Carnage were the big winners at the 2009 Tony Awards, with most of the awards going as expected in the various other categories as well. Here's the complete list of the winners. To read a review for a show, click on the show listed at left under "Theater Reviews."

Best Musical

**Billy Elliot, The Musical
Next to Normal
Rock of Ages
Shrek The Musical

Best Book of a Musical

**Billy Elliot, The Musical Lee Hall
Next to Normal Brian Yorkey
Shrek The Musical David Lindsay-Abaire
[Title of Show] Hunter Bell

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

Billy Elliot, The Musical
Music: Elton John
Lyrics: Lee Hall
**Next to Normal
Music: Tom KittLyrics: Brian Yorkey
9 to 5: The Musical
Music & Lyrics: Dolly Parton
Shrek The Musical
Music: Jeanine Tesori
Lyrics: David Lindsay-Abaire

Jeff Daniels and James Gandolfini in God of Carnage. Photo Boneau Bryan-Brown.

Best Play

Dividing the Estate
Author: Horton Foote
**God of Carnage
Author: Yasmina Reza
Reasons to Be Pretty
Author: Neil LaBute
33 Variations
Author: Moisés Kaufman

Best Revival of a Play

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone
Mary Stuart
**The Norman Conquests
Waiting for Godot

Best Revival of a Musical

Guys and Dolls
Pal Joey

West Side Story

Best Special Theatrical Event

**Liza’s at The Palace
Slava’s Snowshow
Soul of Shaolin
You’re Welcome America. A Final Night with George W. Bush

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play

Jeff Daniels, God of Carnage
Raúl Esparza, Speed-the-Plow
James Gandolfini, God of Carnage
**Geoffrey Rush, Exit the King
Thomas Sadoski, Reasons to Be Pretty

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play

Hope Davis, God of Carnage
Jane Fonda, 33 Variations
**Marcia Gay Harden, God of Carnage
Janet McTeer, Mary Stuart
Harriet Walter, Mary Stuart

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical

**David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, and Kiril Kulish – Billy Elliot, The Musical
Gavin Creel, Hair
Brian d’Arcy James, Shrek The Musical
Constantine Maroulis, Rock of Ages
J. Robert Spencer, Next to Normal

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical

Stockard Channing, Pal Joey
Sutton Foster, Shrek The Musical
Allison Janney, 9 to 5: The Musical
**Alice Ripley, Next to Normal
Josefina Scaglione, West Side Story

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play

John Glover, Waiting for Godot
Zach Grenier, 33 Variations
Stephen Mangan, The Norman Conquests
Paul Ritter, The Norman Conquests
**Roger Robinson, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play

Hallie Foote, Dividing the Estate
Jessica Hynes, The Norman Conquests
Marin Ireland, Reasons to Be Pretty
**Angela Lansbury, Blithe Spirit
Amanda Root, The Norman Conquests

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical

David Bologna, Billy Elliot, The Musical
**Gregory Jbara, Billy Elliot, The Musical
Marc Kudisch, 9 to 5: The Musical
Christopher Sieber, Shrek The Musical
Will Swenson, Hair

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical

Jennifer Damiano, Next to Normal
Haydn Gwynne, Billy Elliot, The Musical
**Karen Olivo, West Side Story
Martha Plimpton, Pal Joey
Carole Shelley, Billy Elliot, The Musical

Best Scenic Design of a Play

Dale Ferguson, Exit the King
Rob Howell, The Norman Conquests
**Derek McLane, 33 Variations
Michael Yeargan, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Robert Brill, Guys and Dolls
**Ian MacNeil, Billy Elliot, The Musical
Scott Pask, Pal Joey
Mark Wendland, Next to Normal

Best Costume Design of a Play

Dale Ferguson, Exit the King
Jane Greenwood, Waiting for Godot
Martin Pakledinaz, Blithe Spirit
**Anthony Ward, Mary Stuart

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Gregory Gale, Rock of Ages
Nicky Gillibrand, Billy Elliot, The Musical
**Tim Hatley, Shrek The Musical
Michael McDonald, Hair

Best Lighting Design of a Play

David Hersey, Equus
David Lander, 33 Variations
**Brian MacDevitt, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone
Hugh Vanstone, Mary Stuart

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Kevin Adams, Hair
Kevin Adams, Next to Normal
Howell Binkley, West Side Story
**Rick Fisher, Billy Elliot, The Musical

Best Sound Design of a Play

Paul Arditti, Mary Stuart
**Gregory Clarke, Equus
Russell Goldsmith, Exit the King
Scott Lehrer and Leon Rothenberg, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone

Best Sound Design of a Musical

Acme Sound Partners, Hair
**Paul Arditti, Billy Elliot, The Musical
Peter Hylenski, Rock of Ages
Brian Ronan, Next to Normal

Best Direction of a Play

Phyllida Lloyd, Mary Stuart
Bartlett Sher, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone
**Matthew Warchus, God of Carnage
Matthew Warchus, The Norman Conquests

Best Direction of a Musical

**Stephen Daldry, Billy Elliot, The Musical
Michael Greif, Next to Normal
Kristin Hanggi, Rock of Ages
Diane Paulus, Hair

Best Choreography

Karole Armitage, Hair
Andy Blankenbuehler, 9 to 5: The Musical
**Peter Darling, Billy Elliot, The Musical
Randy Skinner, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas

Best Orchestrations (tie for winner)

Larry Blank, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas
**Martin Koch, Billy Elliot, The Musical
**Michael Starobin and Tom Kitt, Next to Normal
Danny Troob and John Clancy, Shrek The Musical

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Jerry Herman

Regional Theatre Tony Award
Signature Theatre, Arlington, Va.

Isabelle Stevenson Award
Phyllis Newman

Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre
Shirley Herz

** indicates winner in the category

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Review: King David

A Guest Review
By Rich Swingle
We saw our friend, David Sanborn's one-man musical, King David, Off-Broadway at The Promise Theatre.

The New York Times was right! It's a "first-rate" production. He does impersonations of one Hollywood superstar after the next. As fun as the impersonations were, there were moments where he was deeply emotionally connected. Despite having performed it since April (quite a nice run for these parts), there were times that his face was drenched with tears. At other times he's like a little kid playing in a sandbox.

In these days of so many distractions I always feel so rewarded by the intense focus and energy it takes to perform a one-man play. David made me appreciate it from another angle: I forget it takes focus and energy to follow a one-man play! We become so used to the artists providing all the details, but there's something akin to reading a novel that happens when the brain gets a chance to fill in some of the gaps in solo theatre.

David and his mother, Ellen, chose their cuts judiciously from Christian and Jewish translations of First and Second Samuel, and they've found a great dramatic arc from his confrontation with Goliath to the birth of Solomon. They've interspersed it all with Davidic psalms set to music which delightfully foreshadows the Sanborns' musical, Judah Ben Hur, advertised as coming to Broadway in the fall of 2010.

David and I recently saw Irena's Vow on Broadway. He took inspiration from how Irena's daughter came out and spoke after the play. David (Sanborn) came back after a robust applause to briefly tell how, like King David, his life had been impacted by G-d's relationship with man. He then went on to tell how his own father, Art, had been paralyzed at the same level as Christopher Reeve, but Art now runs six miles a day. Then he invited people to stick around in the lobby (don't miss this!), where they begged him to tell more details. He talked about the accident, the recovery, starting with the miraculous movement of a pinkie, to his three repetitions of one push-up, to his three reps of 50!

When I arrived in Singapore to perform in the world premiere of Judah Ben Hur in 2001 the accident was quite fresh. Everyone was abuzz about his near-drowning and the recovery. I was told that I would have no idea to see him that he had been completely paralyzed below the neck. Because I have experienced miraculous healing in my own body and in the lives of those I know well, I was on high alert. But it wasn't until I was in conversation with him that I discovered that was Art!

The whole story is told in Art's book: "Walking Miracle".

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Theater Year in Review

On the way to a show.

God's the Dramatic One....
By Lauren Yarger
No, this isn't a rehash of the shows making up the 2008-2009 Broadway season. It's a reflection of what God has done and what I have learned by reviewing those shows.

To say this has been an amazing year is an understatement. If in April 2008 you would have told me that a year from then, I would be a member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle and the American Theater Critics Association, I would have laughed at the absurdity of the thought.

God always has bigger plans for me than I can imagine, however, and He has been opening doors that might otherwise have been shut the whole journey. I find that through the experience, I have had a wonderful opportunity to be a witness for Him and to meet many terrific people who work in the theater industry. God really cares about them and He uses theater and all of the arts amazingly to spark conversation, get people thinking and to reach out with his love.

The theater encourages people and gives artists a chance to use the gifts God has bestowed on them to bring people together, care for each other and show people that they are a part of His extended family. He always seems to find ways to communicate His truths.

I’ve learned, or had confirmed, a lot of other things along the way too and I thought you might enjoy reading them here.

1. New Yorkers are friendly people. Nationwide, they suffer from a reputation that casts them as uncaring, rich snobs, but honestly, everyone I have met in the city has been terrific. If anyone ever needs help, New Yorkers are right there to lend a hand, whether it’s directing tourists to landmarks or to the right subway or helping someone who has tripped and fallen get back up on their feet to resume walking in the busy streets.

2. Broadway’s theaters are beautiful. Each one is different with wonderful architectural details inside and out. They really are treasures.

3. There are a lot of good shows on Broadway and off. Broadway produced more than 40 shows in the 2008-2009 season grossing $943.3 million. Off and Off-off-Broadway shows offered hundreds of more opportunities to see theater. Of the many shows I reviewed (I lost count), most I liked.

4. Press agents are very hard-working people. They seem to work all around the clock and somehow manage to get us all to the right seats at the right show on the right day, most of the time, showing up in person to do it. Amazing.

5. I drove into the city and lived to tell about it. I always have taken mass transit into the city. I’ll drive in any other city (except Washington, DC) but don’t ask me to drive into Manhattan. There’s just something about it that, well, makes me fear for my life. I did have to drive in twice this season and I survived, much to my surprise. But that doesn’t mean I want to do it again. Ever.

6. I can take the subway and not end up in Brooklyn. Prior to this season, I was a cab person for any trips within the city that are too far to walk. The Fringe Festival last summer converted me, very quickly, as it is almost impossible to make it from one venue to the next in time for shows without hopping on the subway. I didn’t end up in Brooklyn, like I had feared I would, even when on a Brooklyn-bound train. I’m now pretty adept at train hopping, and the website HopStop.com has become my best friend, though I still enjoy walking whenever it’s possible.

7. The number 10:22 makes me very happy. This means I have made the early train from Grand Central after a show and will get home at 1:30 am instead of 2:30 am. I love matinees, 90-minute shows with no intermission and Tuesday shows that start at 7.

8. There aren’t enough cheap places to eat in the Broadway district or enough places to sit.

9. The Nederlander Theater has the BEST women’s rest rooms.

10. Mentors are very important. I am blessed to have two: Retta Blaney and Andy Propst, for whom I give thanks daily and without whom, this past year would not have been possible.

Gracewell Prodiuctions

Gracewell Prodiuctions
Producing Inspiring Works in the Arts
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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 concept, "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. Shifting from reviewing to producing, Yarger owns Gracewell Productions, which produced the Table Reading Series at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT. She trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Intensive and other 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 wrote 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 was 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. She is a former vice president and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (producer of the annual awards ceremony) and a member of The League of Professional Theatre Women, serving as Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter. Yarger was a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly 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- 2022 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 or people of a certain race 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. 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 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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