Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Moose Murders Experience

Anna Kirkland, Ali Bernstein, Dennis DelBene and Cory Boughton (Photo by Samantha Mercado Tudda)
The Real Mystery is How This Play Ended up on Broadway in the First Place
By Lauren Yarger
Moose Murders played one official performance when it opened on Broadway in 1983. Critics were merciless.

Frank Rich called it “A show so preposterous that it made minor celebrities out of everyone who witnessed it”. John Simon said it seemed as if the play were staged by “a blind director repeatedly kicked in the groin”. Moose Murders is so notorious that the New York Times has called it “the standard of awfulness against which all Broadway flops are judged.”

So I jumped at the opportunity to see a revival of it, given a self-described "shameless" revision by playwright Arthur Bicknell, and presented by the Beautiful Soup Collective, which "re-visits lost works that never reached their pinnacles" (a.k.a. "flops”). I mean, there are only a handful of people who ever saw the production before it closed after its single performance (click here for an article about the show and the revision written by the Post's Michael Riedel for some background:

I wasn't alone. Half of the house at last night's opening was press. The revival of Moose Murders had achieved "hot ticket" status.

So what did I think? The thought that most came to mind was, "How did this play ever get produced on Broadway in the first place?" The second thought that kept coming to mind was, "This is the revised script? How indescribably bad must the original have been?"

Before I expound on the horrors of the show, let me start with a couple of positive statements. First, I think Bicknell is a very brave man to have attempted to revisit the play, especially after the trouncing he received when it premiered. He's led a life out of the NY theater scene since then and really had no reason (or reasonable motivation) to relive the experience. I know I wouldn't have. So hats off to someone willing to overcome a major setback and try to make it better. I would have even more kudos to give him had he not canceled his travel plans to New York for last night's opening at the last minute (citing personal reasons). This forced the cancellation of a pre-show event with him discussing the play with the "flop wall" at Joe Allen's Restaurant in the background. Now that could have been a lot of fun.

I also want to take a hat off to the director and cast of the show (see who they are below). They give their all. They throw everything they have into presenting the play -- and the characters -- for what they are. They are very professional without belittling or mocking the sometimes really mindblowingly awful lines they have to say or the incomprehensible plot they have to enact. And I kind of like that Beautiful Soup exists, How else would I -- or anyone who truly would be interested to -- see the worst flop in Broadway's history on a New York stage again?

Orlando Iriarte (Photo by Samantha Mercado Tudda)
A personal shoutout also is in order for Press Agent John Capo who handles publicity for the show. Never have I had a production photo of an ax-wielding moose delivered to my inbox with such professionalism.

Now, to the show itself. I'll do my best to give you some idea of what takes place without giving away any spoilers. I'm not sure anyone knows what really is going on here, though.

Arriving at The Wild Moose lodge in the Adirondacks are the Holloway family: matriarch Hedda (Anna Kirkland), husband, Sidney (Dennis DelBene), son Stinky (Jordan Tierney), daughter Gay ( a delightful Caroline Rosenbum), daughter Lauraine (Ali Bernstein) and her husband, Nelson (Cory Boughton). Ostensibly, they are there for a final family time with Sidney, whom they expect to die soon. You see, he is a vegetable, wrapped in bandages following a fire and a three-story fall from a window. Really, however, a number of the family members have murder on their minds, and feel they are in a perfect setting: this is the lodge where a famous murder took place and where there is a legend of a "butcher moose" on the loose.

Perhaps some of us audience members also had murder on our minds, but I wouldn't have been adverse to any or all of the family members being knocked off once we got to know them a little. Hedda is a cold, uncaring, harsh woman who forgets her own son's name -- and to take care of wheelchair-bound Sidney. That duty is left to chainsmoking nurse Dagmar (Noelle Stewart), who parks him under a tent on the lawn in the rain.

Stinky appears to be brain damaged from years of drug use and has a really fervent, intensely disturbing Oedipus complex. He can't keep his hands off his mother. Gay tap dances all the time, trying to call attention to herself while impersonating Shirley Temple (she's dressed in an appropriate lollipop-looking getup by Costume Designer DelBene) and other child stars, complete with frequent dying scenes.

Lauraine inexplicably expounds on the greatness of her mother, clinging to her physically, while ignoring Nelson, who seems to be the least nutty fruit to fall from this family tree.

Interrupting plans for the quiet family time are entertainers Snooks and Howie Keene (Brittany Velotta and Steven Carl McCasland), who recently were fired from their gig at the lodge by former caretaker Joe Buffalo Dance (Orlando Iriarte). They refuse to leave. Not sure exactly why, but perhaps it's because a no-talent duo would find it difficult to get a job elsewhere. And Howie's being blind doesn't help. (Howie is the brunt of and source of so many bad blind jokes, I finally made myself deaf to shut them out).

There are numerous, ridiculous plot twists, and if ever a play should forfeit the second act, this is it. Let's just say that at one point, a rather large moose head suddenly disappears. This work is so flawed, however, that because none of the characters notices that a rather large moose head is missing, initially it's impossible to tell whether this is connected with the the plot, or perhaps has nothing to do with anything and is just the result of a prop taking an untimely tumble during one of the may frequent blackouts during which more dialogue is heard....

At another climactic moment, when most of those on stage are murdering or being murdered, Hedda, inexplicably, is wounded on the floor. Has she been strangled, stabbed, shot (all of which have been used in the plot so far)? When asked whether she's injured, she replies, " I’m sorry. Yes! It’s my back. I can hardly move. Could you help dislodge my son?"

OK, I did laugh out loud at that preposterous line. In fact, I also chuckled at most of the lines delivered by Stinky --because Tierney did a great job of mastering the brain-dead, clueless dialogue almost always ending with a hippie-sounding ". . . man." And also because I was sitting next to my son, who was horrified by the incestuous affection Stinky lavished on his mother.

Kirkland also delivered the night's only line to receive a guffaw from the audience because they related:

"It’s a wonder how he’s managed to stay unconscious through all of this . . . Should we envy him?"

The creative team:

Director.... Steven Carl McCasland (founding artistic director of Beautiful Soup Collective)
Assistant Director... Sienna Metzgar
Scenic and Costume Designer... Dennis DelBene
Lighting Design... Steven Carl McCasland
Fight Director.... Christopher Stokes

Information: Through Feb. 10 at the Connelly Theatre, 220 East 4th St., NYC. Tickets: $25 - $30 A portion of proceeds will benefit The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

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

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cirque du Soleil's Totem Adds Performances at Citi Field

Cirque du Soleil has announced that it has extended the upcoming engagement of its all-new big top production to visit New York, TOTEM, for 12 additional performances through April 21. The production premieres March 14 under the trademark blue-and-yellow big top at Citi Field (Lot C), home of the New York Mets.

Written and directed by internationally renowned multidisciplinary artist Robert Lepage, TOTEM traces the fascinating journey of the human species from its original amphibian state to its ultimate desire to fly. Inspired by many founding myths, TOTEM illustrates, through a visual and acrobatic language, the evolutionary progress of species. Somewhere between science and legend TOTEM explores the ties that bind Man to other species, his dreams and his infinite potential.

Due to strong demand, a dozen new performances have been added to the New York City schedule of TOTEM. Tickets for all performances (March 14 – April 21) can be purchased online at

TOTEM Additional New York City Performances
• Wednesday, March 27 at 8pm
• Thursday, March 28 at 7pm
• Wednesday, April 3 at 8pm
• Thursday, April 4 at 7pm
• Friday, April 5 at 3:30pm
• Wednesday, April 10 at 8pm
• Thursday, April 11 at 2pm and 7pm
• Friday, April 12 at 4pm
• Wednesday, April 17 at 8pm
• Thursday, April 18 at 2pm and 7 pm
• Friday, April 19 at 4pm

*For complete TOTEM performance schedule (March 14 – April 21), visit

A new home at Citi Field – Lot C
With Cirque du Soleil’s big top all-new location at Citi Field, TOTEM ticket-buyers throughout the entire city and tri-state area will have a wide range of fast and easy transportation options for getting to the big top whether driving or public transportation, including just a 16 minute ride from midtown Penn Station by subway. For transportation options visit:

For more information about Cirque du Soleil, visit

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Quick Hit Theater Review: The Wonderful Wizard of Song

The Wonderful Wizard of Song: The Music of Harold Arlen
Starring the 3 Crooners
Featuring Antoinette Henry
Original Concept by Same Arlen, George Bugatti and Nigel Wright
Written by George Bugatti
Directed by Gene Castle (who also provides musical staging)
Presented by Yellow Brick Productions in association with Shea Arender, Steve Colucci and Jerry Rosenberg
St. Luke's Theatre

What's it All About?
The music of Harold Arlen -- the guy who wrote the tunes for 31 movie musicals including "The Wizard of Oz."  The 3 Crooners (George Bugatti, Marcus Goldhaber and Joe Shepherd) along with a really terrific Antoinette Henry sing some 25 songs accompanied on piano (Andrew Smithson, musical direction) and offer some history and background in between.  There are a bunch of favorites, like "Get Happy," "Accentuate the Positive," "Paper Moon," "Stormy Weather," "That Old Black Magic," and of course "Over the Rainbow," which wraps up a nice medley of Oz tunes. Video projections add some nice glimpses into Arlen's life and home movies (Josh Iacovelli, set design; Marc Heller, sound design).

What are the highights?
It's an entertaining, just-under-90-minute revue of some great songs. The dialogue doesn't overshadow, but seems to accent the presentation. Henry is the vocal standout here, giving a moving rendition of "Blues in the Night" and looking fabulous in Amy Pedigo-Otto's costuming. Instrumental arrangement of the songs by Steve Rawlings, Arty Schroeck and Chris Hoffman is pleasing on the ear.

What are the Lowlights?
Some of the harmonies could use some work.

More information:
The Wonderful Wizard of Song is a labor of love for Bugatti who has written, directed and performed in the various versions of the show all over the country. Recently, Bugatti starred with The Rochester Symphony in "Over The Rainbow" produced by Todd Gershwin and Dan Chilewich. George is also co-founder, along with Sam Arlen, of The Harold Arlen Foundation/American Songbook Foundation.

Performances: Mondays at 7 pm, Wednesdays at 2 pm and Thursdays at 8 pm. Tickets: $69.50 and $39.50:; 212-239-6200. More info:

Christians might also like to know:
-- No content notes. Enjoy.

Theater Review: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Guest Review
By Misti Wills
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was last revived in a less than stirring production starring Ashley Judd in 2003.  The current production marks the straight play direction by musical director Rob Ashford and stars Scarlett Johansson as Maggie, Ciaran Hinds as Big Daddy, and Benjamin Walker as Brick. The real star of this production however, is Debra Monk as Big Mama. 

Cat can be described in one word: mendacity.  Everyone is lying about something, especially their relationships.  Big Daddy doesn’t “like” his wife Big Mama, His son Brick “can’t stand” his wife Maggie, his other son Gooper pretends to like his father and his wife Mae, though we suspect this apple also doesn’t fall far from the tree.   
Set in a gorgeously designed bedroom with sheer draped fabric curtains and high ceiling fans on a wealthy estate in the south (Christopher Oram, scenic design), the story of unhappiness unfolds.  Brick and Maggie have a loveless marriage because Brick’s best friend Skipper took his life when Brick hung up on him during a phone call where he confessed feelings outside of friendship. Before this,   Maggie suspected their relationship had crossed a line and she slept with Skipper for revenge. 
Brick is unable to forgive himself or her and spends the entire play drinking his life away.  He is stuck in many ways, especially since he got injured while running the night before and his foot is broken in a cast, leaving him only able to walk with a crutch.  Maggie is desperate to have a baby but Brick refuses to sleep with her and she is left to badger him to give in to her needs.   He simply tells her that if she feels like a “cat on a hot tin roof”, why not just jump off?  Neither, though clearly miserable, refuses to leave their marriage for either society’s sake or some sense of duty.

Big Daddy’s birthday is being celebrated and we find out that they thought he had cancer but the tests have come back negative and he only has a spastic colon.  Everyone except Big Daddy and Mama know the truth however, that in fact he does have cancer and it is terminal.The doctor later breaks the news to Big Mama with the support of everyone in the family except for Big Daddy. After verbally abusing everyone in the family, Big Daddy insults Big Mama in front of everyone and then is left alone for a talk with his favorite son, Brick. 
Brick and Big Daddy have a long discussion where they display a close relationship, despite their tense talk. Big Daddy favors Brick over Gooper and wants to know why Brick is drinking his life away. He finally gets the truth out from Brick about what happened with Skipper. In a drunken rage, Brick retaliates by telling Big Daddy the truth about his cancer.   
After all has been revealed, Gooper tries to get Big Mama to sign papers giving he and Mae and their five "no-neck" children the estate. She refuses and only wants to talk to Brick.  Brick tells Gooper to take it all, but Maggie wants to fight for their rights to the property too.  Big Daddy returns and in a moment of brilliant desperation, Maggie tells him she is pregnant with Brick’s child and he will have another heir.  The final moments of the play are Maggie and Brick in a rough embrace where we are not sure if they will try to make her lie come true or not.   
Johansson carries off the longing of Maggie to be loved and find her place, though it never quite reaches a deeper desperation stage.  Her chemistry with Brick is often off, mostly due to some awkward staging moments (Rob Ashford directs) trying to help him up when he can’t reach his crutches.  She misses the moments of where her longing could be excruciating like when he is close enough to touch her or undresses in front of her.     
Walker, last seen in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, has the stoniness of Brick and shows us the inheritance of verbal abuse he’s received, but also never quite connects deeply with the material. Of course, it’s difficult to connect when the action that is written is to simply drink and try to move without a crutch.  Walker's obvious physical prowess also makes it difficult to believe that this man can’t lift himself up without the use of a crutch. He has a beautiful scene with Big Daddy when the truth comes out about what happened with Skipper.  He says very clearly that he never struggled with homosexual feelings, though we are left wondering. 
Hinds (TV's "Game of Thrones") plays the southern tyrant with calculated ease.  Unlike other Big Daddy’s I’ve witnessed, he doesn’t shout while verbally abusing everyone but uses a steely calculated gaze and intimidating physique that could make all of the no-neck children terrified. His rapport with the amazing Debra Monk is stellar. They clearly are expert players here not missing a beat or intention in William’s language. Monk's response to his abuse is incredible -- she is at once ashamed and takes it in and yet also shows strength rising up in her to become someone new when he is gone. Her love for him is present in spite of the abuse and we can’t help but cheer for her.
All in all, the evening is an enjoyable one, presenting a clean production of a classic story.  Will it be remembered for years to come? Probably not, but it’s a roof worth staying on for three hours at the Richard Rodgers stage.
Cat plays through March 30 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 West 46th St., NYC. Tickets: 800-745-3000, 877-250-2929;
Christians also might like to know:
-- Nudity
-- Language
-- God’s name taken in vain
-- Show posts a MATURE advisory
Misti Wills is an accomplished director, actress, adjunct professor of theater and member of The League of Professional Theatre Women.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Freud's Couch Opens for Business in LA

 JUDD HIRSCH as Sigmund Freud and TOM CAVANAGH as
C. S. Lewis in Mark St. Germain's FREUD'S LAST SESSION at The Broad Stage.
Photo: Carol Rosegg
Freud's Last Session by Mark St. Germain opens in Los Angeles tonight starring Judd Hirsch as Sigmund Freud and Tom Cavanagh as C. S. Lewis under the direction of Tyler Marchant, who helmed the original New York production.

Presented by The Broad Stage and Carolyn Rossi Copeland, Robert Stillman and Jack Thomas, Freud's Last Session will play a strictly limited engagement through Feb. 10 at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica.

The Off-Broadway premiere engagement opened on July 22, 2010 and ran for two years (read the review here). The show is also currently playing to sold-out houses in Buenos Aires, Stockholm and Anchorage. Additional productions are set to open this season in London, Mexico City, Sydney, Madrid, Sao Paulo, Singapore, Vancouver, Copenhagen, Phoenix, Cincinnati, and Tucson.

The play centers on legendary 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. St. Germain’s play was suggested by the bestselling book "The Question of God" by Harvard’s Dr. Armand M. Nicholi, Jr.

The playing schedule for Freud's Last Session  is Tuesday through Friday evenings at 7:30, Saturdays at 4 and 8 pm, Sundays at 1 and 5 pm. The running time is 74 minutes with no intermission. Tickets are available through or by calling 310-434-3200. The Broad Stage is located at 1310 11th St. inside the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center. For more information, visit

Get $20 Tickets to Off-Broadway Shows 20 Minutes Before Curtain

The Off Broadway Alliance will again sponsor "20at20," the bi-annual celebration of Off Broadway, Jan. 22 through Feb. 10. $20 tickets for 40 Off-Broadway plays and musicals will be available to theatre-goers 20 minutes prior to curtain.

Now in its seventh year, 20at20 has become one of New York’s most eagerly-anticipated promotions for budget-conscious theatre-goers.

All 20at20 ticket sales are cash only. For a complete list of participating shows and venues see below or visit

If you see seven Off-Broadway shows during the 20at20 promotion, you can receive a voucher for free dinner for two at an area restaurant. Just mail your original ticket stubs (no photocopies accepted) for seven 20at20 shows to: 20at20 Dinner Special, 555 Eighth Avenue, Suite 905, NY, NY10018. All entries must be postmarked by Feb. 11 to be valid. Include your name, phone, email, and mailing address.

20at20 is presented by The Off Broadway Alliance (OBA), a non-profit corporation organized by theater professionals dedicated to supporting, promoting and encouraging the production of Off-Broadway theater and to making live theater increasingly accessible to new and diverse audiences. The Alliance holds monthly meetings and membership is open to everyone in the Off-Broadway theater community. Among its initiatives, The Off Broadway Alliance sponsors a free Seminar Series focusing on the culture, business and history of Off Broadway featuring major players from the Off Broadway scene. Its Off Broadway Economic Impact Report details Off Broadway's more than $500 million annual impact on the economy of the City of New York.

For complete info on 20at20 go to or address any question via email to

Off-Broadway shows participating in 20at20:

5 Lesbians Eating A Quiche; Soho Playhouse;
Accidental Pervert; 13th Street Repertory Theater;
All in the Timing; 59E59 Theaters;
All the Rage; Peter Jay Sharp Theater;
AVENUE Q ; New World Stages;
BARE: The Musical; New World Stages;
Black Angels over Tuskegee; Actors Temple Theatre;
Bunnicula, The Musical; DR2 Kids Theatre;
Channeling Kevin Spacey; Roy Arias Theatre;
Cougar The Musical; St. Luke's Theatre;
Fancy Nancy The Musical; McGinn/Cazale Theatre;
FORBIDDEN BROADWAY: Alive and Kicking!; 47th Street Theatre;
Forever Dusty: The Dusty Springfield Musical; New World Stages;
Fried Chicken and Latkes; Actors Temple Theatre;
Fuerza Bruta; Daryl Roth Theatre;
Gazillion Bubble Show; New World Stages;
Hollow the Musical; The Players Theatre;
How To Be A New Yorker; Sofia's Downstairs Theater;
Katie Roche; Mint Theater Company ;
My Big Gay Italian Wedding; St. Luke's Theatre;
Naked Boys Singing!; Theatre Row - Kirk Theater ;
NEWSical The Musical; Theatre Row - Kirk Theater;
Perfect Crime; Snapple Theater Center;
Sam Eaton’s THE QUANTUM EYE: Mentalism & Magic Show; Theatre 80;
Show Way; McGinn/Cazale Theatre;
SILENCE! The Musical; The Elektra Theatre;
Siren's Heart: The Marilyn Monroe Musical; Actors Temple Theatre;
Sistas the Musical; St. Luke's Theatre ;
STOMP; Orpheum Theatre;
The Awesome 80s Prom; Webster Hall;
The Berenstain Bears LIVE!; Manhattan Movement and Arts Center;
The Fantasticks; Snapple Theater Center;
THE JAMMER; Atlantic Theater Company;
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe; St. Luke's Theatre ;
The Man Under; 59E59 Theaters;
The Velveteen Rabbit; DR2 Kids Theatre;
The Wonderful Wizard of Song: The Music of Harold Arlen; St. Luke's Theatre;
Totally Tubular Time Machine; Culture Club;
Women of Will; The Gym at Judson;
Zelda on the Oasis; St. Luke's Theatre;

20at20 Terms and Conditions: All tickets subject to availability. Restrictions may apply. Offer valid only at the box office on the day of the performance 20 minutes prior to curtain. Offer may be revoked at any time. Not valid on prior sale. Cannot be combined with other offers. Valid Jan. 22 – Feb. 10, 2013. Cash only at all venues. Additional restrictions may apply. Free dinner offer valid while supplies last. A limited number of dinner vouchers are available. No substitutions will be given. You will not be able to choose your restaurant. Voucher is subject to restaurant's restrictions.

Kelly Ripa, Michael Strahan Co-Host Kids' Night on Broadway

Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan, co-hosts of “LIVE with Kelly and Michael,” will serve as the 2013 KIDS’ NIGHT ON BROADWAY® National Ambassadors.

Kids ages 6 to 18 can see Broadway shows for free when accompanied by a full-paying adult during the program. A KIDS’ NIGHT ON BROADWAY ticket includes free pre-theatre parties, restaurant discounts, parking discounts, educational programs, and more.

Kids’ Night on Broadway tickets available for participating shows on:








Participating shows (subject to change and performance scheduling) include:

BROADWAY: Ann, Annie, Chicago, Hands on a Hardbody, Jersey Boys, The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, Mary Poppins, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Newsies, Once, The Phantom of the Opera, Rock of Ages, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, Wicked

OFF-BROADWAY: Avenue Q, Forever Dusty, The Gazillion Bubble Show, Stomp

Many Times Square-area eateries will offer specials for Kids’ Night on Broadway ticket-holders. Restaurant

KIDS’ NIGHT ON BROADWAY will take place in multiple cities around the country, with different shows and venues putting their own spin on the event, on numerous dates throughout the year. Check for specific dates and locations.

Start of Looped Tour Postponed Following Hospitalization of Valerie Harper

The Bushnell in Hartford, CT has postponed its engagment of Looped by Matthew Lombardo, following the hospitalization last week of star Valerie Harper, who was released and is expected to make a full recovery.

Looped, which was to launch its national tour at The Bushnell’s Belding Theater Jan. 24 – Feb. 6 now will be performed in Mortensen Hall May 7-12. All Bushnell patrons who have purchased tickets to Looped will receive new tickets. For the May run, season ticket holders will now have their regular seats on their scheduled performance night or matinee in the Mortensen. Single-ticket buyers will be contacted by the Bushnell box office in the next several weeks and re-ticketed from their Belding seats to comparably-priced seats in Mortensen Hall.
The tour will launch in Fort Lauderdale followed by Baltimore and Boston before the Hartford stop.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Looped Launches National Tour

Playwright and Connecticut native Matthew Lombardo, Brian Hutchison, Valerie Harper, Matthew Montelongo and Director Rob Ruggiero. Photo: Lauren Yarger
The launch for national Tour of Looped by Matthew Lombardo and starring Valerie Harper as film legend Tallulah Bankhead was held Monday, Jan. 7 at Pearl Studios in New York.
Brian Hutchison, who played Danny, the beliguered film editor trying to get one line of dialogue recorded for Bankhead's last film 1965's last film, "Die! Die! My Darling!," reprises the role for the tour which launches at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford Jan. 24-Feb. 6.
Matthew Montelongo joins the production, directed by TheaterWorks Artistic Director Rob Ruggiero, as Steve, the sound technician. Additional tour dates are scheduled for Fort Lauderdale (Parker Playhouse Feb. 26-March 3) and Baltimore (The Hippodrome Theatre March 5-17) with more locations expected to be announced soon (tour's website will go live next week).
The tour launches shortly after Harper's new memoir, "I Rhoda," (Gallery Books) releases Jan 15 (look for her on Good Morning America and the other morning shows starting Jan, 14). Harper received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in the short 2010 Broadway production of Looped (also directed by Ruggiero). Read the review here.
Looped is produced by Tony Cacciotti, Ann Cady Scott & The Tallulah Organization in association with The Pasadena Playhouse. The design team includes Adrian Jones (sets), William Ivey Long (costumes) Michael Gilliam (lighting) and Michael Hooker (sound).

Connecticut's O'Neill Will Honor Christopher Plummer in New York

Christopher Plummer will receive the O'Neill Theater Center's 13th Monte Cristo Award April 15 in recognition of "his monumental achievements and contributions to the American and international theater community."

The award will be presented at a gala dinner held in his honor at the Edison Ballroom in New York City at 6:30 pm. Details on the program and presenter will follow at a later date. For sponsorship opportunities, table and ticket reservations, or more information about the O’Neill’s Monte Cristo Award, please contact Ainslie Seeber at 860-443-5378 x285 or

The Monte Cristo Award is presented to a prominent theater artist in recognition of a distinguished career exemplifying Eugene O’Neill’s “pioneering spirit, unceasing artistic commitment, and excellence.” Past recipients of the Award include Michael Douglas, James Earl Jones, Harold Prince, Kevin Spacey, Neil Simon, Jason Robards, Jr., Edward Albee, August Wilson, Zoe Caldwell, Brian Dennehy, Karl Malden, Arthur & Barbara Gelb and Wendy Wasserstein.

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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