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".

1 comment:

Rich Swingle said...

Thanks for posting this, Lauren!

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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 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 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 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. She is a former vice preseint 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 (event manager for the annual awards ceremony), The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and the Drama League. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She also is a member of the Episcopal Actors' Guild, the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts and The O'Neill Theatre Center..

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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