Monday, July 23, 2012

Weather Postpones Into The Woods Preview Tonight

Glenn Close is the voice of the giant in the park production.
The first preview of Into the Woods at Central Park's Delacorte Theater has been postponed tonight due to weather. The first preview will now take place tomorrow at 8 pm.

Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s beloved musical is the second show of The Public’s 50th Anniversary season at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park and will run for five weeks through Saturday, Aug. 25.

Timothy Sheader directs with co-direction by Liam Steel.

The production will featureAmy Adams (Baker’s Wife); Jack Broderick (Narrator); Glenn Close (The Voice of the Giant); Gideon Glick (Jack);Cooper Grodin (Rapunzel’s Prince); Ellen Harvey (Cinderella’s Stepmother);Ivan Hernandez (Cinderella’s Prince, Wolf); Tina Johnson (Red Ridinghood’s Granny);Josh Lamon (Steward); Bethany Moore (Florinda); Jessie Mueller(Cinderella); Donna Murphy (The Witch); Denis O’Hare (The Baker);Jennifer Rias (Lucinda); Laura Shoop (Cinderella’s Mother); Tess Soltau (Rapunzel); Sarah Stiles (Little Red Ridinghood);Kristine Zbornik (Jack’s Mother); and Chip Zien (Mysterious Man). The non-Equity ensemble featuresVictoria Cook, Johnny Newcomb, Noah Radcliffe, and Eric R. Williams.


Tickets to Shakespeare in the Park are FREE and are distributed, two per person, at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park the day of the show. The Public Theater will again offer free tickets through a Virtual Ticketing lottery at on the day of the show. All performances are at 8 pm.

In addition to the ticket line at the Delacorte Theater and Virtual Ticketing online, a limited number of vouchers for specific performances will be distributed, while supplies last, at locations throughout NewYork’s five boroughs. Each person in line is allowed two vouchers and each voucher is good for one ticket for that evening’s performance. Vouchers must be exchanged for tickets at the Delacorte Theater Box Office that day from 4 to 7:30 pm.  Vouchers will be distributed, while supplies last, on Wednesday, July 25 in Manhattan at El Museo del Barrio (1230 5th Avenue); Friday, July 27 in Queens at The Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (16104 Jamaica Avenue);Saturday, July 28 in The Bronx at Lehman Stages at Lehman College (250 Bedford Park Boulevard West);Monday, July 30 in Brooklyn at Mark Morris dance Group in collaboration with 651 Arts Center (3 Lafayette Street);Tuesday, July 31 in Staten Island at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center (100 Richmond Terrace).

The Delacorte Theater in Central Park is accessible by entering at 81st Street and Central Park West or at 79th Street and Fifth Avenue.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Quick Hit Theater Review: Hell: Paradise Found

Hell: Paradise Found
Written and Directed by Seth Panitch
The University of Alabama
at 59 E 69 Theaters, New York

What's it About?
Well, what if our thoughts about who goes to heaven and hell were all backwards? In Panitch's tongue-in-cheek mix up of an afterlife, lawyer Simon Ackerman (Matt Lewis) finds himself being sized up for a position in hell by The Interviewer (Panitch). They don't accept just anyone there, it seems. Simon is confused, at first, thinking that as a religious man, he would naturally want to go to heaven, until he discovers that's God (Dianne Teague), archangel Gabriel (Peyton Conley) and the residents there are, well, very boring. It seems that heaven is the destination for those who don't think for themselves, who follow blindly, and who stop questioning because they are supposed to have faith. One might just want to spend eternity where "everyone else" who has thought for themselves and done something unique with their lives go.

The folks in hell, who gather at a bar happy hour to hear the likes of Frank Sinatra (Conley) and Elvis Presley (Lawson Hangartner) croon "Let's Fall in Love," are much more interesting. They include Vlad the Impaler (Chip Persons), Shakespeare (Conley), Don Juan (Hangartner) and Lizzie Borden (Alexandra Ficken) as well as a Sophia-Loren-wannabe Mother Theresa (Stacy Panitch) who is upset that Princess Diana's funeral got more viewership.

To help Simon choose the right eternal destination, The Interviewer shows movie highlights of the fall of Adam and Eve (Hongartner and Ficken) and Lucifer (Persons) where God kind of seems selfish and befuddled, Gabriel's in love with his own importance and Satan seems the most reasonable of them all.

What are the highlights:
It's clever and funny and doesn't take itself very seriously. The performances are good, particularly for a university group trying their legs Off-Broadway.

What are the lowlights:
There doesn't seem to be a point after the initial smile brought on by "let's think about how eternity would look if we shook everything up." It's not apparent that the play is trying to make the point that we've got it all wrong, which is good, because it would fail given a lot of theological errors which it incorporates (Satan has a soul; Eve wasn't tempted to eat the apple; God withholds knowledge to manipulate; Luicfer tells God off; God grants someone's prayer have sex on prom night; it's Lucifer's idea that God allow free will -- just to name a few), but it's not clear what the point is exactly. The joke seems to stretch a little thin, though, even at 90 minutes with no intermission.

More information:
The play runs through July 22 at 59 East 59th Street, NYC. The performance schedule is Tuesday – Thursday at 7:15 pm; Friday and Saturday at 8:15 pm; and Sunday at 3:15 pm. Tickets are $18 ($12.60 for 59E59 Members). To purchase tickets, call 212- 279-4200 or go to

Panitch is is Associate Professor of Acting and heads the MFA and Undergraduate Acting programs at the University of Alabama. Visit his page at

Christians might also like to know:
-- If you are looking for theologically sound, skip this one.
-- Sexual dialogue

Take in a Free Kids' Show While You are in New York

Austen Nash Boone stars in the title role of Theatreworks USA's Skippyjon Jones
Skippyjon Jones begins performances on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at Off-Broadway's Lucille Lortel Theatre (121 Christopher Street) and continues through Friday, Aug. 17.
Opening night is set for Wednesday, July 25 at 6:30 pm.

Skippyjon Jones wants to be the best Chihuahua ever! The only problem: he's actually a Siamese cat. Before you can say "holy guacamole," Skippyjon's wild imagination transforms him into El Skippito Friskito, the greatest sword fighter in Mexico!  
SKIPPYJON JONES is based on the popular picture book series of the same name by Judy Schachner.

Directed by Peter Flynn (Junie B. Jones, Henry & Mudge) and choreographed by Devanand Janki (Lortel nominee for Junie B. Jones and Henry & Mudge, Callaway nominee for The Yellow Brick Road), Skippyjon Jones features music by Eli Bolin ("Sesame Street") with book and lyrics by Kevin Del Aguila (Drama Desk nominee for Click, Clack, Moo; Altar Boyz).

Austen Nash Boone stars as Skippyjon Jones, Jose Restrepo as Mama Junebug/Polka Dot-ito/Alfredo Buzzito, Veronica Reyes as Jezebel/Poquito Tito, Gabrielle Ruiz as Ju-Ju Bee/Rosalita, and Graham Stevens as Jilly Boo/Don Diego. Melanie Beck and Marcelo Pereira are the understudies.
The production features scenic design by Rob Odorisio, costume design by Tracy Christensen (Lortel Award nominee for Seussical), lighting design by Jeff Croiter (Tony Winner for Peter and the Starcatcher) and Corey Pattak, and sound design by Carl Casella (Silence! The Musical). Orchestrations are by Frank Galgano and Matt Castle. Castle also serves as musical director.
Launched in 1989, the mission of Theatreworks USA's Free Summer Theatre Program is to provide New York City youth with their own theatre tradition that not only entertains, but also educates and fosters positive value and an appreciation for theatre.
More than 15,000 FREE tickets will be distributed to Skippyjon Jones this summer. This year's Honorary Chairs for the Free Summer Theatre Program are Tony Award winner Christian Borle, television and film actor Mark Consuelos, Emmy Award-winning television host Kathie Lee Gifford, and Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Tickets for SKIPPYJON JONES are FREE and are available on a first-come, first-served basis in-person at the Lucille Lortel Theatre Box Office (121 Christopher Street) on the day of the performance.  

Tickets for each day's performances will be distributed beginning one hour prior to the first performance of the day. There is a limit of four (4) tickets per adult per day.

SKIPPYJON JONES is a 60-minute, one-act musical recommended for children ages four and up. The weekly performance schedule is as follows:

         Monday through Friday -- 10:30 am and 1 pm
         Sunday -- 2 pm and 4:30 pm

SCHEDULE EXCEPTIONS: There are no 1 pm performances July 17-20, no 10:30 am performance on Wednesday, July 25, and no 4:30 pm performance on Sunday, Aug. 5. There are added 6 pm performances on Thursday, Aug. 2 and Thursday, Aug. 16. (No free tickets are available for the opening night benefit, Wednesday July 25 at 6:30 pm.)
Summer camps, youth programs and social service organizations can make reservations for groups of fifteen (15) or more by calling 212-627-7373.

Because Theatreworks USA accepts reservations from summer camps, individual tickets are extremely limited for the weekday daytime performances. Reservations cannot be made by the general public*. Availability is better for evening and weekend shows, which are entirely open to the public. Once all group tickets are distributed, any remaining patrons will be admitted at curtain time on a space-available basis.

For more information, please visit


If you want great reserved seats in the orchestra then make a donation to Free Summer Theatre! All donations are 100% tax-deductible and will go directly to offset program costs.For every $50 you donate, you are entitled to one reserved VIP seat for the performance of your choice. Limit 10 tickets per donor. No exchanges or refunds.  For more information, call 212-647-1100 ext. 126 or email
To purchase Opening Night benefit performance tickets, email

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Freud's Last Session's Time is Up Off Broadway

Freud's Last Session by Mark St. Germain will end its run this Sunday, July 22 at New World Stages, 340 West 50th St., NYC on the second anniversary of its debut. The production will have played a total of 775 performances and eight previews.

Freud's Last Session stars Mark H. Dold as C. S. Lewis and Martin Rayner as Sigmund Freud, under the direction of Tyler Marchant. The show is also currently playing to sellout houses at Chicago’s Mercury Theatre as well as at the famed Multiteatro in Buenos Aires and Sweden’s Stockholm City Theatre. Additional productions are set to open this season in London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Sydney, Madrid, Copenhagen, Philadelphia, Akron, and Sao Paulo.

The story centers on psychoanalyst Dr. Sigmund Freud, who invites the young, rising academic star C. S. Lewis to his home in London. Lewis, expecting to be called on the carpet for satirizing Freud in a recent book, soon realizes Freud has a much more significant agenda. On the day England enters World War II, Freud and Lewis clash on the existence of God, love, sex, and the meaning of life – only two weeks before Freud chooses to take his own. Not just a powerful debate, this is a profound and deeply touching play about two men who boldly addressed the greatest questions of all time. Mark St. Germain’s celebrated new play was suggested by the bestselling book "The Question of God" by Harvard’s Dr. Armand M. Nicholi, Jr.

FREUD'S LAST SESSIONis produced Off-Broadway by Carolyn Rossi Copeland, Robert Stillman and Jack Thomas. The performance schedule is Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings at 8 pm; Saturdays at 2 & 8 pm; and Sundays at 3 & 7 pm. The running time is 84 minutes with no intermission. Tickets are $66.50 and are available at 212-239-6200 or through A limited number of $23 Student Rush tickets (cash only, with valid student ID) are available at the box office day of performance.

For more information, visit

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Quick Hit Theater Review: Closer Than Ever

George Dvorsky, Christiane Noll, Sal Viviano and Jen Colella. Photo: Carol Rosegg.
Closer Than Ever
Music By David ShireLyrics By Richard Maltby, Jr.
Directed by Richard Maltby, Jr.
Choreography by Kurt Stamm
Music direction by Andrew Gerle
Starring George Dvorsky, Christiane Noll, Sal Viviano and Jen Colella
York Theatre at Saint Peter’s

What's it about?
A collection of songs about relationships, love and life. Each song is a little vignette, with the actors assuming characters. There is a wide range of topics with songs varying between upbeat ensemble pieces and poignant solo balads.

What are the highlights?
Christiane Noll is always a treat to hear on a New York stage and this is no exception. Her exception acting skills also add a lot to the character portrayals. Her rendition of "Patterns" is particularly moving. Maltby does an excellent job directing, setting mood quickly and efficiently. Each song is entertaining and the pace of the two-hour-and-15-minute show (with one intermission) is just right.

What are the lowlights?
Dvorsky was suffering from some voice strain the day I attended. It became progressively worse throughout the performance.

Other information:
Closer Than Ever plays Mondays & Tuesdays at 7 pm., Wednesdays through Fridays at 8 pm and Saturdays at 2:30 and 8 pm. Tickets are priced at $67.50 and are available at; 212-935-5820, or at person at the box office at the York Theatre at Saint Peter’s (Citicorp Building, entrance on East 54th Street, just east of Lexington Avenue), Monday through Friday (noon to 6 pm).

A Closer Conversation with Maltby & Shire, an intimate conversation with the award-winning Broadway songwriting duo, Richard Maltby, Jr. and David Shire, Saturday morning, July 14 at 11:30 am at The York Theatre at Saint Peter’s. These long time collaborators will discuss their legendary career including such highlights as the Broadway musicals, Baby and Big, the classic Off-Broadway revue Starting Here, Starting Now, and much more. Seating is limited. Admission is $20 and will include La Colombe coffee, orange juice, and appropriate morning snacks from PMS Kookies (This Chick Bakes).

Christians might also like to know:
-- Sexually suggestive lyrics
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Language

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

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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