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.

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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 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. 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 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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