Wednesday, January 28, 2015

You Can Take It with You After All

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Cast Members of Broadway's You Can't Take It With You 
Prepare Meals for New Yorkers at God's Love We Deliver 
By Lauren Yarger
It seems you can take it with you after all -- God's love, that is.

Six cast members from Broadway's You Can't Take It With You recently volunteered to help prepare meals at Gods Love We Deliver, New York's leading provider of individual meals to people who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves. The meal prep took place at the organization's temporary Brooklyn home on Flushing Avenue, where it has moved while its new SoHo building, made possible by a $5 million gift from designer Michael Kors, is constructed.

More than 26,000 meals are delivered each week to more than 2,600 clients, according to Emmett Findley, manager of communications, The organization is non-sectarian an. People of faith or no faith are served and welcome to serve, Findley said.

The castmates obviously took something else with them to the kitchen -- their obvious camaraderie. Julie Halston (Gay Wellington), Byron Jennings (Mr. Kirby), Anna Chulmsky (Alice Sycamore), Fran Krantz (Tony Kirby), Reg Rogers (Boris Kolenkhov) and Nick Corley (G-Man) ladeled up chicken mishroom soup into plastic containers which were stacked in crates and wheeled off by volunteers. Easy banter ensued; Chlumsky bopped to the beat of music playing; Halston mastered "swirling" and "burping" techniques with aplomb.

Press representatives and Press Agent Alana Karpoff of Jeffrey Richards Associates, who arranged for the cast to volunteer , also pitched in. Cast members increased their speed and switched jobs. One sobering thought that touched us all, however, was that no matter how many containers they filled, more still were needed. There are that many people in need.

For a review of the show (which closes Feb. 22), click here.

About God's Love We Deliver:

Meals are delivered in all five boroughs of New York City, Newark and Hudson County, New Jersey. All services are provided free of charge to clients, their children and to the senior caregivers of senior clients, without regard to income, without a waiting list. "Because we believe the combination of hunger and serious illness is a crisis, we deliver food within 24 – 48 hours of first being contacted." To volunteer, click here. For more information, visit
In 1985, a hospice volunteer named Ganga Stone paid a visit to an AIDS patient that changed her life. The patient, Richard Sayles, was too ill to cook for himself. Ganga's compassion took hold, a meal was prepared and delivered on the next visit, and an epiphany was born: Something as basic as delivering a meal could bring dignity and recognition to a desperate situation.

Ganga's experience then drove her to a second epiphany. The severity of Richard's situation demanded something more than simply delivering food. It required preparing nutritionally-tailored meals that would support an individual's specific medical treatment. She researched his needs and was on her way again, with a new meal in hand, when she was stopped by a minister in the neighborhood who recognized her. He asked what she was doing, she told him, and he replied, "you're not just delivering food ... you're delivering God's love."

And Ganga said, "That's the name."

With Jane Best, an organization was founded. Within two years, 50 nutritionally-tailored meals were being delivered daily from an Upper West Side kitchen.

In 1995, through the generosity of individual donors, foundations, and corporations, God's Love purchased a kitchen and home in SoHo. It also published the first of what would be 15 widely-acknowledged nutritional guides. A decade later it was able to expand its mission to provide meals nutritionally tailored for those homebound and suffering from cancer, Alzheimer's, MS, and other debilitating diseases.

All of this has been made possible by the compassion and dedication of now nearly 8,000 volunteers who chop, prepare, and deliver these meals every year.

This they do, at dawn and at dusk, in the bitter cold and the sweltering heat; giving the gift of their hearts and their time to deliver 4,000 meals each weekday, to clients in all five boroughs, and New Jersey. No one has ever been turned away for any reason.

We always mention that over twelve million meals have been served since we began. A number that understandably dumbfounds Ganga and Jane, as we understandably are dumbfounded by the enormity of the task from which they never wavered. What began as an urgent response to the AIDS epidemic has grown to be an urgent response to all those who are too ill to cook for themselves. And everyday we still hear the echoes of a lone woman walking down a hallway, carrying dinner and a little company to a neighbor in need.

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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 2000 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 "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 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

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

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle. and the Episcopal Actors' Guild.

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


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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