Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Gathering for the Broadway Blessing

Melissa Errico
By Lauren Yarger
About 200 people gathered Monday night at the Church of the Transfiguration for the 16th annual Broadway Blessing.

Melissa Errico (Amour; My Fair Lady) gave the theater reflection and Christiane Noll (Jekyll and Hyde, Chaplin; Ragtime) sang "Ordinary Miracles" by Marvin Hamlisch (lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman) accompanied by Ian Herman on piano.
Christiane Noll

Rich Swingle
Errico spoke emotionally about her heartbreak over having to pull out of a production of Stephen Sondheim's Passion at Classic Stage Company last spring when she had vocal cord surgery. She learned a lot during her time of silence (106 days of it to be exact). Actors have to recognize that they are athletes, that they can get hurt, that they need to take care of themselves, she said. An excerpt from the Olympic-themed, one-man play Beyond the Chariots about Olympian Eric Liddell, which was performed by actor/author Rich Swingle before Errico's comments, was a perfect segue, she said. (The wife of former pro tennis player Patrick McEnroe and sister-in-law of John, she knows all about athletic discipline).

During her time out of the show and in silence she focused on family, friends, spirituality (she is the product of Quaker schooling), exercise, charities and writing about her experience on a blog: http://melissaerrico.com/blog-1/.
The Broadway Blessing Choir

"These things rushed in when I was down," she said. Things don't always go the way you want them to, she said and actor/friend Patrick Page (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) reminded her to use the experience and all she'd been through in creating her next role.

"I can't wait to meet her," he told her.

That echoes advise once given to her by Marian Seldes when a very young Melissa asked the legendary actress what she should do to become an actress.

Stella Almblade Project Dance
"Live!" the legendary stage actress told her.

Errico concluded by quoting Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George:

"Stop worrying where you're going. Move on.

If you can know where you're going, You've gone.

Just keep moving on."

Also appearing at the interfaith service were Stella Almblade from Project Dance, who performed "Walk on Water" choreographed by Randall Flinn to "Storm" by Lifehouse (she wowed the audience not only with the beautiful dance, but with her ability to continue uninterrupted despite some glitches in the music tape). The Broadway Blessing Choir was under the direction of Dr. Claudia Dumschat, organist and choirmaster at Church of the Transfiguration.
Rabbi Hausman  and the Right Rev. St. John
The Right Rev. Andrew St. John, rector of the church, and Rabbi Jill Hausman of the Actors' Temple participated in the service and The Rev. Mitties DeChamplain of St. Clement's Episcopal Church gave the blessing.
Maj. Carl Ruthberg and Retta Blaney
Hosted in recent years at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the Blessing moved this year to The Little Church Around the Corner, Transfiguration's nickname, home of the Episcopal Actors' Guild which co-hosted the event and a reception which followed. The Broadway Blessing is founded and directed by Retta Blaney. She writes about theater and religion on her blog Upon the Sacred Stage and is the author of Working on the Inside:  The Spiritual Life Through the Eyes of Actors.

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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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