Saturday, October 29, 2011

Theater Review: Relatively Speaking

Enjoying These Three One-Acts is All Relative
By Lauren Yarger
A who's-who stellar cast entertains in three one-act plays linked together by a theme of relationships with relatives, but enjoying them is, well, relative.

The first piece, Talk Therapy, by Ethan Coen, pits a mental patient (Danny Hoch) against his doctor (Jason Kravits) in a verbal match where identities and why the in-institution therapy sessions continue over time are up for grabs, both by the characters and the audience.

Hoch and Kravits are quite good as the intelligent, angry postal worker and his frustrated, intimidated therapist, respectively, and there's excellent attention to detail for the characters by director John Turturro who directs all of the night's plays, but the play is full of holes, not filled, even after the set (Santo Loquasto, design) breaks away to reveal another scene featuring the patient's bickering parents (Allen Lewis Rickman and Katherine Borowitz). This play ends abruptly leaving the audience to wonder whether that was the first act of something or the end of the first play.

Titles of the plays projected onto the curtain (Kenneth Posner, lighting design) provide the answer and next up is George is Dead by Elaine May.

This longer play serves as a vehicle for the welcome return to the stage of Marlo Thomas, sporting a blonde "do" and looking fabulous as Doreen, a shallow and pampered socialite who shows up on the doorstep of her former nanny's daughter, Carla (Lisa Emery). Doreen is unable to cope with the death of her husband, George, at a skiing lodge and thinks nothing of intruding on Carla for help. Carla's not excited to see her, however. Her own marriage to Michael (Grant Shaud) is on the rocks and her nanny mother (Patricia O'Connell) always loved her charge more than her daughter.

Thomas is a hoot as the hapless, insensitive, selfish Doreen. One scene in which she escapes her reality by watching classic comedies on TV would be even funnier if one of the opening themes we hear playing were from "That Girl." Emery is a nice foil for Thomas and her frenzied preparation of crackers and cheese to the specifications of her demanding guest will probably always cause me to chuckle at the sight of a saltine. The play structure itself is flawed, though, and ends on a less than satusfying note.

The showcase of the evening is the final play, Honeymoon Hotel by Woody Allen. Jerry Spector (Steve Guttenberg) and Nina Roth (Ari Graynor), in her wedding dress, then in a revealing negligee, (Donna Zakowska, costume design) flee a wedding ceremony and escape to a tacky hotel's bridal suite. Their blissful plans of pizza and an evening alone on the round bed are shattered, however, when friends and family follow them from the wedding. A drole Julie Kavner and Mark Linn-Baker play Nina's parents; Bill Army plays Jerry's son, Paul, and a very funny Caroline Aaron plays Paul's disapproving mother, Judy.

Also showing up at the hotel are Rabbi Baumel (Richard Libertini), who after imbibing a bit too much, keeps shifting from wedding talk to eulogies for the guests, as well as the pizza delivery guy (Hoch) and others played by Shaud and Kravits. It's funny in that bizarre Woody Allen way, but its ending isn't more satisfying than those offered by the first two plays. Enjoyment level of these plays really is relative -- compared to each other, the first play doesn't fare too well; compared to other plays on Broadway, the trio here seems flawed and guilty of underusing some great talent on the stage.

Relatively Speaking is presented at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 West 47th St., NYC. Discounted tickets are available by clicking here.

Christians might also like to know:
--Sexual dialogue
--God's name taken in vain

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit Opens Friday at Discovery Times Square

Discovery Exhibition Premieres Largest Collection of Holy Land Artifacts Featuring 10 Dead Sea Scrolls,  Biblical Era Items
By Lauren Yarger
Just previewed the most fascinating exhibit opening this Friday at Discovery Times Square: Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Times.

Take in hundreds of artifacts, watch videos, touch a part of the Western Wall in Jerusalem and be amazed at some of the earliest surviving copies of scripture.

The exhibit, made possible with the cooperation of The Israeli Antiquities Authority, which shares some of the nation's treasures, is comprehensive and contains something of interest for everyone.

I enjoyed viewing in person the scrolls, which during my studies after having been an atheist who scoffed at Christianity and the bible, were a part of what helped show me the truth of God's word. Other interesting artifacts, like a kitchen pantry, a bath tub, glass items, jewelry and coins prove that the ancient times don't seem all that different from today. There's even an ancient official's stamp with the name of Netanyahu, which sat on the desk of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before being included in the Discovery display.
Very moving, also, is a three-ton stone from the Western Wall (left). Visitors are encouraged to leave notes of prayer which will be sent to the actual wall in Jerusalem, which can be viewed in live time on a video screen nearby.

The scrolls themselves are displayed on a circular kind of table. They are enclosed in a climate controlled viewing area with information, a translation and high-resolution photos providing better detail displayed on the surface. Audio tours also are available.

Highlights include:
  • --The earliest known copy of Psalms (this scroll is the most substantial, including as many as 51 psalms. The text names King David as author of the Psalms)
--A scroll with portions of the last six chapters of Leviticus, including the precepts commanding observance of the New Year Festival (Rosh Hashanah) and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).
--Scroll fragments containing a portion of Deuteronomy 32 known as the "Song of Moses," a poem Moses recites on the eve of his death. Some 32 copies, representing nearly every chapter of the book, were discovered in total.
--A Pottery Four-Horned Altar from Hazar (around 10 CE) with ash spots remaining from incense burned in it. (The exhibit uses CE for Common Era instead of the less politically correct Before Christ/After Christ BC/AD designations).
For the kids, there is an interactive scroll with the Ten Commandments (as well as plenty of video stimulation. They will enjoy watching restorers trying to remove Scotch Tape, incredibly used to hold the scroll fragments together after they first were discovered). Exhibition areas also offer quotes from non-biblical ancient texts, displays of Judaic and Islamic art and artifacts and the six ossuaries, found in a tomb in Jerusalem, possibly inscribed with the names "Jesus," "Mary," "Joseph" which got so much media attention when they were discovered recently.

The exhibit, opens Friday at Discovery Times Square, 226 West 44th St., NYC. and continues through April 15. It then  moves to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia in May. Tickets are $25 for adults, $22.50 for seniors and $19.50 for children. Hours are 10 am to 8 pm, with the last entry 60 minutes prior to closing. For more information, visit

Discovery Times Square  is New York City’s first large-scale exhibition center presenting visitors with limited-run, educational and immersive exhibit experiences while exploring the world’s defining cultures, art, history and events. More than a museum, DTS has featured a renowned line-up of exhibitions including Titanic:The Artifact Exhibition, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Workshop, King Tut,Pompeii The Exhibit, and Harry Potter: The Exhibition.

This exhibition is created by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) from the collections of the Israel National Treasures and produced by Discovery Times Square and The Franklin Institute. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Risa Levitt Kohn (Professor at San Diego State University) and Debora Ben Ami (Iron Age collection curator at the IAA). Planning and design by Ralph Appelbaum Associates, New York, NY and consultation by noted Dead Sea Scrolls expert, Dr. Lawrence Schiffman (Vice-Provost of Undergraduate Education, Yeshiva University).
Some Frequently Asked Questions About the Dead Sea Scrolls

What are the Dead Sea Scrolls?
Ancient manuscripts that were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in 11 caves near Khirbet Qumran, on the northwestern shores of the Dead Sea in Israel.

How many scrolls were found?

Over 100,000 fragments of text were discovered, and scholars have pieced these together into over 900 separate documents.

What is the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls?

The Dead Sea Scrolls are widely acknowledged to be among the greatest archaeological treasures linking us to the ancient Middle East, and to the formative years of Judaism and Christianity. Over 200 biblical manuscripts are more than a thousand years older than any previously known copies of the Hebrew Bible. In addition, there are scrolls that appear to represent a distinct form of Judaism that did not survive the Roman destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE. These "sectarian scrolls" reveal a fascinating stage of transition between the ancient religion of the Bible and Rabbinic Judaism, as well as the faith that would become the world's largest, Christianity.
What material are Dead Sea Scrolls made of?

The majority of the scrolls are written on leather parchment, but there are also some texts written on papyrus (reed paper). One scroll, known as the Copper Scroll is inscribed upon copper.

Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?

Many, but by no means all scholars believe the scrolls were created by the Essene sect, a group of Jews who broke away from mainstream Judaism to live a communal life in the desert. When the Romans invaded their community around 68 CE, the Essenes hid the manuscripts in nearby caves. The ruins of Qumran, near the base of the caves, are believed by many to be the communal quarters of the Essenes. However, some scholars believe the Essenes were not the only authors of the scrolls; they assume that some of the manuscripts were written in Jerusalem and later deposited in the caves at Qumran when the Romans threatened Jerusalem.

What kind of texts are the Dead Sea Scrolls?

The manuscripts fall into three major categories: biblical, apocryphal, and sectarian. The biblical manuscripts comprise some 200 copies of biblical books, representing the earliest evidence for the biblical text in the world. Among the apocryphal manuscripts (works that were not included in the biblical canon) are works that had previously been known only in translation, or that had not been known at all. The sectarian manuscripts reflect a wide variety of literary genres: biblical commentary, religious legal writings, liturgical (prayer) texts, and compositions that predict a coming apocalypse.

Where are the Dead Sea Scrolls now?

The majority of the scrolls are housed in Israel under the care and custody of the Israel Antiquities Authority (eight manuscripts at the Shrine of the Book and all others at the IAA State Collections). There are also some scrolls in Jordan and in Europe.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Theater Review: Man and Boy

Langella's Fascinating to Watch, but Another Title Might Be 'Man, Oh Boy'
By Lauren Yarger
When talented Frank Langella plays bad, he's good, even when he's in a play that isn't all that great. That's true of his latest appearance on Broadway as a sleasy, uncaring financier in Roundabout Theatre Company's production of Terence Rattigan's Man and Boy.

Langella is Gregor Antonescu, the man credited with saving Europe after World War I, who now is avoiding the press seeking details about a failed merger that could lead to his collapse and a crash of the stock market. He decides to hide out at the basement Greenwich Village home of his estranged anti-capitalist, socialist son Basil (Adam Driver).

Basil inexplicably lets his father meet with his cronies: trusted right hand Sven Johnson (Michael Siberry), accountant David Beeston (Brian Hutchinson), who has found discrepancies in the merger figures, and Mark Herries (Zach Grenier), head of American Electric, part of the merger. Also dropping by is Gregor's wife, the Countess Antonescu (Francesca Faridany), from whose foundation he embezzles funds. During most of this, Basil takes a nap in the bedroom, which is cut away stage left next to the living area of the apartment ( Derek McLane, set design). Eventually, a couple of other people nap in the bedroom too, though why we need to see this isn't clear.

Langella, directed by Maria Aitken, creates a pretty unlikable character who thinks nothing of disrupting his son's life, then shows disdain for Basil's career as a piano player in a club, for his choice in liquor and in women, stopping only to rearrange the furniture to suit his own purpose. We come to understand why Basil washed his hands of his father and changed his last name following his coming of age party back in the old country. Before it's all over, there is some question as to who really is the "man" and who is the "boy."

With the current  economy in a mess and some fearful politicians and people blaming Wall Street for an uncertain future, the play's topic is just as timely now as it was in 1934 when it is set (on Saturday when I attended, the noise of protesters occupying Times Square and sirens indicative of more than 100 arrests made that day could be heard outside the theater during the performance, providing an obvious current application.)

But, man, oh, boy, the play feels more like a draft than a finished piece. The character of Basil's girlfriend, Carol Penn (Virginia Kull), doesn't seem to contribute much to the action except for giving us a gratuitous nude scene to open the play. She never returns after she leaves fairly early in act one. Basil, whose loathing of his father we come to understand, suddenly cares about him and is all concerned about helping him. Why? We don't know. Sven, asked to perform a ridiculous favor for Gregor, inexplicably does. The Countess, asked to do a favor, inexplicably doesn't. And beyond these plot questions, the dialogue can be rather dry and tedious at times, making us wish we could join the nappers up there on the bed. Resist the temptation, though, because it is worth watching Langella in action, He snarls with such panache that he makes us feel sorry for the cigarette Gregor holds in his sleasy hand.

Man and Boy plays through Nov. 27 at American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St, NYC. Tickets: 212-719-1300 or

Christians might also like to know:
Lord's name taken in vain
Suicide storyline

Theater Review: The Mountaintop

Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett.  Photo Credit: Joan Marcus.
Performances Go to the Top, but the Play about Civil Rights Leader's Last Night Misses the Promised Land
By Lauren Yarger
The idea is interesting: a look at the night before the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Performances by Samuel L. Jackson (in his Broadway debut) as the beloved civil rights leader, though portrayed here in an unfamiliar light, and Angela Bassett as the hotel maid with whom he converses are good too -- very strong. The Mountaintop,  Katori Hall's bizarre play, which inexplicably won the Olivier for Best Play in 2010, is not exactly good, though, and falls short of the Promised Land.

It's April 3, 1968 and King, fighting a cold and exhaustion, retires to his shabby room at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis (David Gallo, set and production design) to work on a speech tentatively called "Why America is Going to Hell." Bringing him some coffee through a raging thunder storm is maid Camae (Bassett), who shares some cigarettes, and some advice with the preacher.

Directed by Kenny Leon, Bassett brings a lot of humor to the role of the foul-mouthed woman who attracts the eye of King. He likes her style, and she speaks her mind on everything from berating King about cheating on his wife to what he should include in his next speech, like a line that says "F*** the white man." (The audience roared, though this kind of humor is lost on me).

When he's not smoking, drinking or leering at Camae (we have to wonder whether his estate is very happy with this play), King chastises the maid for her blasphemous comments and does offer some wise words about how the nation can fight a war in Viet Nam or spend money to put a man on the moon instead of taking care of so many of its people in need. But just as we are thinking that the sexually-charged banter is one of the most bizarre set ups we've ever seen to give the author an excuse to write a play, it gets even weirder, though I am unable to provide details without including spoilers.

There is a terrific scene where the set splits away to offer video projections and a monologue by Bassett about the path of civil rights throughout history. The original music is by Branford Marsalis, though I must truthfully admit that I don't recall noticing it during the play.

The Mountaintop, which has been playing to sell-out audiences at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 West 45th St., plays a limited engagement through Jan. 15. Tickets are available by clicking here. In addition, prime tickets to The Mountaintop will be reserved for every performance, even in cases when the show is otherwise sold-out, for the low price of $34.50 with 20 Same-Day Reserve tickets available when the box office opens at 10 am (noon on Sundays) for that day’s performance(s).  They can be purchased with cash or a credit card on a first-come, first-served basis.  There is a limit of two Same-Day Reserve tickets per person.

Christians might also like to know:
Language (including the "n" word)
Lord's name taken in vain
During the course of the conversation there is some problematic theology interjected including :
    God is a black woman; God beats people; angels lived previously as humans.

New Victory Taps into US Dance Premiere

Untapped! is an eclectic mash-up of tap, acrobatics, funk and rock by the Australian dance troupe, Raw Metal Dance Company, which will run at The New Victory Theater from Nov. 11-27.
Featuring five dancers, a beat boxer named “Dr. Rhythm,” and a live rock band to amp up the concert-like vibe, Untapped! has toured to sell-out crowds in Australia, Asia and Europe, and now brings its urban style to the US for the first time. Raw Metal Dance Company has performed at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts in Brisbane, Adelaide Fringe, the Singapore Dance Festival and Holland Dance.

Untapped!, which features dancers Andrew Fee, Reece Hopkins, Daniel Sintes, Matthew Sintes and Sam Windsor, is directed and designed by Andrew Fee, who along with the RAW Metal Dance cast, created the show’s choreography. Lighting is by Troy Kelly, sound is designed by Jamie Taylor and costumes are designed by Lucy Chambers.

Ticket Information
Tickets for Untapped! at The New Victory Theater (209 West 42nd St.) cost $25, $18, $12 and $9 for Members and $38, $28, $18 and $14 for Non-members based on seat locations. Theater-goers who buy tickets for three or more New Vic shows qualify for free Membership benefits, including up to 35-percent savings.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit, call 646-223-3010; Sunday – Wednesday, 11 am to 5 pm; Thursday – Saturday, 11 am to 7 pm, or stop by The New Victory Theater Box Office (209 West 42nd Street); Sunday & Monday 11 am to5 pm; Tuesday-Saturday noon to 7 pm.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

So You Want to be a Producer?

The Commercial Theater Institute (CTI) reveals its complete season line-up for 2011-2012. With over a dozen different courses, the season includes new seminars, new cities, and returning favorites thatare committed to training and developing emerging producers at every level.

Behind the Scenes: Six Nights at the Theatre with CTI
Oct. 11-Nov. 15
Students can learn about producingin the theatre by experiencing the magic of live theatre and joining CTIfor six nights of theatre followed by six exclusive post show experiences. On six consecutive Tuesdays, students have the opportunity to attend acombination of new Broadway and Off-Broadway productions and then willhave the chance to engage in an intimate and interactive post show discussion/talk-backwith members of the cast and/or creative team. The following schedule issubject to change and detailed information can be found on the website.
        October11th: Relatively Speaking (8:00 pm: Brooks Atkinson Theatre)
        October18th: Chinglish (7:00 pm: Longacre Theatre)
        October25th: We Live Here (7:00 pm: MTC City Center Stage 1)
        November1st: Godspell (8:00 pm: Circle in the Square)
        November8th: Seminar (8:00 pm: John Golden Theatre)
        November15th: The Blue Flower (7:00 pm: 2econd Stage Theatre)

Other New Courses

14- Week (Plus 2 Extra Weeks!)
Jan. 9- April 23
Due to its growing popularity this intensive program, presenting a comprehensive look at numerous aspects of the theatrical producing in the commercial arena, has been extended for two extra weeks.

Ft. Lauderdale One-Day Seminar: The Business Behind the Show
Jan. 27
CTI is headed to Florida, to help potential investors and theatre fans explore the journey from development to opening night.
New Ways to Attend: Webinars

CTI courses available online: The2011-2012 season will offer three webinars.
Investor Relations: Finding,Soliciting, and Fussing 
Dec. 16

“Show me the money.”  How to find it?  How to make every investment a positive experience forthose involved?  This one-day seminar will review specific strategiesfor how to identify financial sources, how to develop and present an investmentproposition ... and ultimately how to communicate, inform and involve investorsas the project unfolds.

Marketing, Measurement &Analysis: (Webinar Simulcast)
Feb. 10, 2012
In an era when the ability to understandthe demographics of customers and their ticket buying behavior becomes increasingly crucial, this course teaches how to more deeply mine available data.

Sales Tactics: What To Do? When To Do It? What to Spend?
May 4, 2012
There are an overwhelming numberof industry-wide marketing efforts that producers use to sell tickets andpromote their shows, but how do you identify which ones will work bestfor you? How much do you have to invest in order to see results? Do sometactics work better for musicals than plays? This course will outline traditionalstrategies, new industry initiatives, and out of the box ideas.

New Ways To Save
Registrants now have the opportunity to sign up early and save on select courses. Signing up 30 days in advance for specific one-day and weekend seminars can save 20 percent off the regular course price.

Additional details and registration information for all courses can be found at

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Share Your Godspell Memories

The cast at a recent rehearsal.

For the past 40 years, GODSPELL's message of community and hope has united people from all over the world. Now, people can take part in that community by sharing their memories at, a new online community where fans can record videos, watch other fan videos and connect with each other in celebration of the highly-anticipated Broadway revival of GODSPELL.
The website offers a user-friendly platform that allows fans to easily record and upload their personal video memories of the legendary rock musical.

"It's remarkable how many people have such fond and vivid memories of GODSPELL," said producer Ken Davenport.  "For some, it was perhaps the first show they ever saw.  For others, it was the first show they performed in.  And for others, it's something as simple as the beauty of Stephen Schwartz's iconic score that resonates with them.  Now that we're only two weeks away from our first preview performance, we thought, wouldn't it be great if there was a place for all of these fans to connect and share with one another?  So we came up with and I'm really looking forward to seeing and hearing what this show has meant to people from all over the world."
Directed by Daniel Goldstein and choreographed by Tony Award nominee Christopher Gattelli (South Pacific), GODSPELL begins preview performances at Circle in the Square Theatre (1633 Broadway at 50th Street) on Thursday, October 13, 2011. Opening Night is Monday, November 7 (7 p.m.).

GODSPELL stars an incredible and diverse company of 10 young actors, lead by Hunter Parrish as Jesus and Wallace Smith as Judas, and co-starring Uzo Aduba, Nick Blaemire, Celisse Henderson, Morgan James, Telly Leung, Lindsay Mendez, Anna Maria Perez de Tagle and George Salazar. Understudies are Joaquina Kalukango, Eric Michael Krop, Corey Mach and Julia Mattison.

The revival reunites Daniel Goldstein -- making his Broadway directorial debut -- and members of the design team from his critically-acclaimed 2006 Paper Mill Playhouse conception in a new production that has been completely re-imagined for the Circle in the Square, one of Broadway's most intimate, unique and versatile houses.

Conceived and originally directed by John-Michael Tebelak with music and new lyrics by Academy and Grammy Award winner Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin), GODSPELL has continued to electrify audiences throughout the country since its original New York premiere in May 1971.

GODSPELL's Tony-nominated score features instantly recognizable hits including "Day by Day," "Turn Back, O Man," "Learn Your Lessons Well, "Prepare Ye the Way," "Light of the World" and many more.

One of the most popular musicals in the world, GODSPELL originally ran for more than 2,600 performances in New York and spawned successful touring productions in major U.S. cities, a 1973 motion picture adaptation and countless international engagements for the past 40 years.

The new Broadway revival of GODSPELL is produced by Ken Davenport, Hunter Arnold, Broadway Across America, Luigi Caiola, Rose Caiola, Edgar Lansbury, Mike McClernon, The Tolchin Family, Guillermo Wiechers & Juan Torres and The People of Godspell. Associate producers include Dennis Grimaldi Production, Todd Miller, Pivot Entertainment Group, Chris Welch and Cedric Yau.

GODSPELL features scenic design by David Korins (Passing Strange), costume design by Miranda Hoffman (Well), lighting design by David Weiner (The Normal Heart), sound design by Andrew Keister (Company), orchestrations by Michael Holland (Hurricane) and musical direction by Charlie Alterman (Next to Normal).

Visit GODSPELL online at

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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

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She was 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 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


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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