Friday, January 29, 2016

Thriving After Breast Cancer

Developed & Performed by Duvall O'Steen
Directed by Gretchen Cryer

Thursday, February 11 / 7:00 pm
Guild Hall / 1 E. 29th St. / NYC 10016

Join The Episcopal Actors' Guild for Thrive, a moving chronicle of a breast cancer survivor's health and personal challenges, as well as her victories. 

Based on "The Cancer Club" by Nuala Forsey, Thrive weaves together poetic pieces and memoirs that challenge our understanding and compassion for those touched by illness.

Directed by Gretchen Cryer of I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road.

A wine and cheese reception will follow. 

Suggested: $10/members / $15 non-members

RSVP: / (212) 685-2927

Monday, January 25, 2016

Broadway Theater Review: School of Rock TOP PICK

Evie Dolan, Alex Brightman, and Brandon Niederauer . Photo by Matthew Murphy,
School of Rock Teaches Lessons About How to Make a Great Musical
By Lauren Yarger
It has music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, a book by Julian Fellowes (“Downton Abbey”) and a high-powered rock star performance. If that isn’t enough, School of Rock, the stage adaptation of the popular 2003 movie starring Jack Black, has a ton of tiny talents – amazing pre-teen kids who sing and dance and play their own instruments to rock out the house at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre.

It’s really good. In fact, I saw it twice because the first two times I had seats, star Alex Brightman was out and I had to go back. It was no hardship, believe me. (Thank goodness it wasn’t China Doll.)

Webber has composed a score (supervised by Ethan Popp) that doesn’t sound anything like his past accomplishments (Evita, Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar to name a few), but which totally captures the spirit of this comedy and setting (lyrics are by Glenn Slater). Fellowes also shows his ability to diversify, so no one in his adaptation of Mike White’s screenplay sounds like Lord Grantham chatting with Mr. Carson….

The story follows ne’er-do-well Dewey Finn (Brightman) who gets kicked out of his band right before the Battle of the Bands competition. He has been crashing at the home of his best friend, Ned Schneebly (Spencer Moses), but when Dewey can’t come up with the rent, Ned’s shrill, bossy girlfriend, Patty (Mamie Parris) tells Ned to throw him out.

Desperate, Dewey pretends to be Ned and shows up for a high paying substitute teaching gig at Horace Green, a posh, private prep school overseen by uptight Rosalie Mullins (Sierra Boggess) who has as much love for rules and order as Ned does for rock music. The two, obviously, immediately clash.

When Dewey discovers that some of his kids play instruments and sing, he urges them to trade classical for rock and they become “The School of Rock” to compete in the Battle of the Bands. While they rehearse and keep the band a secret from their parents and Rosalie, the “teacher’ and his students form a bond, especially since Dewey believes in them and listens to their needs when their parents won’t. The kids express their pain and longing for parental approval in “If Only You Would Listen.”

Dewey becomes a real friend to:
·         Shy Tomika (Bobbi Mackenzie, vocals) who can’t make her gay fathers understand that she misses her old school and friends even if they think the new prep school is best for her. When she finds her voice, it’s with a heartfelt rendering of “Amazing Grace” that makes us wonder how such a powerful voice is coming out of such a little girl.
·         Geeky Lawrence (Jared Parker, keyboard) who doesn’t know how to fit in and be cool. He is a hoot as the nerd sex god.
·         Fashion-loving Billy (Luca Padovan) who doesn’t want to play football like his father and grandfather before him, but who prefers to read Vogue and design the band’s costumes.
·         Over-achiever Summer (Isabella Russo) who manages her mother and is obsessed with getting gold stars and getting into the right college.
·         Zack (Brandon Niederauer, electric guitar), who could be the next Jimmy Hendrix, but whose work-obsessed father never seems to have time to listen.
·         Freddy (Dante Melucci, drums), whose father wants him to pick up a hammer rather than a drum stick.
·         And the rest of the band: Katie (Evie Dolan, bass), James (Jersey Sullivan), Sophie (Corinne Wilson), Madison (Shahadi Wright Joseph), Shonelle (Taylor Caldwell), Marcy (Carly Gendell) and Mason (Ethan Khusidman).

Director Laurence Connor puts the cast through fast paces on a simple, quick-change set designed by Anna Louizos, who also designs costumes. Most of the outfits for Boggess are rather ill-fitting -- perhaps a visualization of “uptight” ? -- but they definitely are unflattering.  Direction gets an assist from excellent Lighting Designer Natasha Katz who helps focus the action.

JoAnn M. Hunter (with Associate Choreographer Patrick O’Neill) uses a lot of high-energy jumping and stomping to give the kids movement for the loud rock numbers “Stick it to the Man,” and “You’re in the Band.”

Brightman gets a workout as he rocks the school for almost two and a half hours (you get the feeling he genuinely likes these kids while he’s doing it) and makes Headmistress Mullins wonder what happened to the free-spirited girl she used to be. That ballad, “Where Did the Rock Go,” is the type of soul-gripping melody that makes Andrew Lloyd Webber one of my favorite composers.

Some things missing in this otherwise very satisfying production:
·         Any spark of chemistry between Dewey and Rosalie. They don’t seem a good match and Boggess doesn’t seem comfortable in the role. We never quite believe her uptight schoolmarm or her secret obsession with Stevie Nicks.
·         Sound (designed by Mick Potter) problems occurred in both performances I saw. Can’t hear the lyrics in some of the louder numbers and for part of a performance, Boggess’s microphone wasn’t working.

Don’t let that stop you from seeing this musical, though. I totally enjoyed it – twice – and would go see it again. The understudies I saw in a number of roles rocked out just as well as the stars, especially young Ava Della Pietra who captured the audience’s heart with Katie’s bass face.

School of Rock plays at the Winter Garden Theatre, 1634 Broadway, NYC. Performances are Tuesday through Thursday at 7 pm; Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm; Wednesday and Saturday at 2 pm; Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets are $59 - $145: (212) 239-6200;

Additional cast:
Emily Cramer, Natalie Charle Ellis, Alan H. Green, Michael Hartney, John Hemphill, Merritt David Janes, Gavin Kim, Jeffrey Samuel Kishinevskiy, Lulu Lloyd, Jaygee Macapugay, Cassie Okenka, Patrick O’Neill, Ava Della Pietra, Sofia Roma Rubino, Tally Sessions, Jesse Swimm, Jonathan Wagner, Hayden Wall, Jeremy Woodard

Christians might also like to know:
--  God's name taken in vain
-- Language
-- Homosexuality
-- Lyrics have Jesus throwing Dewey a beer
-- A prayer to the gods of rock

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Broadway Shows Back on Today

Lin-Manuel Miranda (center) and the Public Theater company of Hamilton. Photo: Joan Marcus.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

All Broadway Shows Cancelled Today

With a ban on travel in New York and suspension of public transportation by government authorities and additional safety precautions implemented due to severe weather, all Broadway matinee and evening performances on Saturday, Jan. 23 are cancelled.

Normal operations are expected to resume for tomorrow’s Sunday matinees.

Additional information will be posted on as it becomes available.  For information about refunds and exchanges, theatergoers should contact their point-of-purchase.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Broadway Theater Review: Fiddler on the Roof

The cast of Fiddler. Photo: Joan Marcus

It Breaks With Tradition, but this Choreography is Worth Watching
By Lauren Yarger
Fiddler on the Roof with music by Jerry Bock with lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and a book by Joseph Stein, based on the stories of Sholom Aleicheim, has been a part of theater tradition as long as I can remember.

Ever since Zero Mostel made the part of Tevye the milkman his own (he won the Tony in 1965 and reprised the role in the 1976 revivial) the wonderful songs like, “Sunrise, Sunset,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Miracle of Miracles,” “To Life,” Do You Love Me” and Matchmaker, Matchmaker” have been part of the American songbook -- and the fact that I could just list all of those without having to consult a program proves it.”

Lets face it every high school has done Fiddler and there have been three previous revivals in 1981, 1990, and as recently as 2004. So why do another revival now. What about this one makes is so special that people should pay $157 a ticket to see it.

The answer is one word: the choreography. Hofesh Shechter is a genius. Somehow he has remained true to the show’s original choreography by Jerome Robbins, but has made it totally fresh and exciting. The dances take on a life of their own and bring
depth and passion to the story.

“Tradition,” arguably one of the best opening numbers for a musical ever, is even more exciting and celebratory. The choreography is worth the price of the ticket. The rest of the production, directed by Bartlett Sher, is not as rewarding. Danny Burstein is a respectable Tevye, though he seems much happier than I expect. Jessica Hecht is more downtrodden and reflects the difficulty of her life.

Others like Samantha Massell Hodel and  Alix Korey Yente, whose comic delivery is off,  seem miscast. A number of vocals are weak and don’t blend well and some miss cues to begin songs. Music Direction is by Ted Sperling.

Sher has people moving around on stage with no apparent focus, He also has elected to introduce a confusing, modern prologue and epilogue to the story. There also is a floating fiddler. Scenic Designer Michael Yeargan suspends some rooftops too. These elements seem out of place.

It’s always lovely to hear the score. It’s a real treat to watch this choreography. But somehow, I won’t be surprised if I enjoy the next traditional production I see a local high school just a bit more.

Fiddler floats at the Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway, NYC through Sept. 4. Performances are Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm;  Wedesday, Friday, Saturday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 pm; Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets are $35-$157: 800 432-7250;

Check out some of the neat choreography here:

Full credits:
Music by Jerry Bock; Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick; Book by Joseph Stein, based on the Sholom Aleicheim stories; Direction by Bartlett Sher; Choreography by Hofesh Shechter, Scenic Design by Michael Yeargan, Costume Design by Catherine Zuber, Lighting Design by Donald Holder, Music Direction by Ted Sperling

Danny Burstein…. Tevye

Jessica Hecht…. Golde

Jenny Rose Baker…. Shprintze

Michael Bernardi…. Mordcha

Adam Danheisser…. Lazar Wolf

Adam Kantor…. Motel

Karl Kenzler…. Constable

Alix Korey…. Yente

Samantha Massell…. Hodel

Melanie Moore…. Chava

Ben Rappaport…. Perchik

Nick Rehberger…. Fyedka

Alexandra Silber…. Tzeitel

Jessica Vosk Fruma Sarah

Aaron Young…. Sasha

Jennifer Zetlan…. Shaindel

Hayley Feinstein…. Bielke

Mitch Greenberg…. Yussel/Baker

Adam Grupper…. Rabbi

Lori Wilner…. Grandma Tzeitel

George Psomas…. Avram

Julie Benko, Eric Bourne, Stephen Carrasco, Eric Chambliss, Jacob Guzman, Jesse Kovarsky, Reed Luplau, Brandt Martinez, Sarah Parker, Marla Phelan, Tess Primack, Silvia Vrskova, Jonathan Royse Windham…. Villagers

-- no content notes. If you haven't taken your kids to Fiddler yet, do. It's a story of family, faith and tradition.


Session on Phantom.
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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Broadway Theater Review: Noises Off

Noises Off

By Michael Frayn
Directed by Jeremy Herrin

What's It All About?
It's a revival of the 1982 play by Michael Frayn about backstage drama while a group of actors tries to put on a play called "Nothing On." Andrea Martin (Pippin) stars as Dotty Otley, a middle-aged actress who has a lot of trouble remembering when she needs her props of sardines and newspapers. She makes her beau, Garry Lejeune (David Furr) jealous by pretending to be interested in Freddy (Jeremy Shamos), who gets a lot of nosebleeds. Meanwhile, untalented ingenue Brooke Ashton (a very funny Megan Hilty), who gets between the show's director, Lloyd (Dallas (Campbell Scott) and the assistant stage manager, Poppy Norton-Taylor (Tracee Chimo). Poppy's boss is overworked Tim Algood (Rob McClure), in a role that under utilizes the abilities of this Chaplin star). Rounding out the cast are Kate Jennings Grant as seasoned actress Belinda Blair and Daniel Davis (again a role that hardly taps the comic genius of the actor playing it) as Sheldon Mowbray, the veteran actor whose penchant for whiskey often causes him to mess up his entry cues.

What Are the Highlights?
Martin has some fun moments and Scott is entertaining in his frustration. Hilty is a hoot as the clueless and talent-less Brooke who stiffly recites her lines as written regardless of the mayhem going on around her (though it is hard to understand her when she yells). Derek McLane nicely executes the set, which transforms form the set of the "Nothing On" play to the backstage area where mayhem ensues.

What Are the Lowlights?
This play always seems like it's stretching to me. It's a typical farces with lots of doors, repeated gags and physical humor, but it just never seems to get me rolling in the aisles. The plot is just too ridiculous.

More Information:
Additional Creative Team: Derek McLane, Set Design; Michael Krass, Costume Design; Jane Cox Lighting Design; Christopher Cronin Sound Design; Todd Almond Original Music; Paul Huntley Hair and Wig Design; Lorenzo Pisoni; Comedy Stunt Coordinator; Elizabeth Smith
Dialect Consultant

-- God's name taken in vain
-- Scantily clad actors

Monday, January 18, 2016

Quick Hit Off-Broadway Theater Review: Lazarus (Updated)

Michael C. Hall. Photo: Jan Versweyveld

By David Bowie and Enda Walsh
Directed by Ivo van Hove
Inspired by the novel The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis

By Lauren Yarger
If you haven't already seen this Off-Broadway show, which has taken on new meaning since the unexpected death of David Bowie last week, you have a few more chances. It has been extended a final time with performances tonight ,Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 8 pm and Wednesday Jan. 20 , all at 8 pm.

That final performance on Wednesday will benefit New York Theatre Workshop's artistic development and education programming. Tickets are $1,000 (includes one ticket to the final performance plus a VIP invitation for two to NYTW’s upcoming production of Red Speedo) and $2,500 (includes one ticket to the final performance plus access to an after-party celebrating the run and a VIP invitation for two to NYTW’s upcoming productions of Red Speedo and Hadestown).  All tickets to the benefit performance include a tax-deductible contribution.

The show features songs specially composed for it by Bowie as well as new arrangements of previously recorded songs. I found the show. loosly about an alien who finds himself trapped on earth (where he has been enjoying himself), edgy, interesting and thought-provoking, if a little hard to follow.  -
It's directed by Ivo van Hove (who also directs Broadway's cutting edge View from the Bridge and The Crucible. Six-time Emmy nominee Michael C. Hall (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, “Dexter”) stars as Thomas Newton, the alien who falls to earth.

There is a lot of metaphor in there and thoughts and lyrics about death and dying, which makes the show so haunting in the face of its composer's death.

Cristin Milioti (Once) is Elly,and Michael Esper (The Last Ship) is Valentine. Completing the ensemble are Krystina Alabado, Sophia Anne Caruso, Nicholas Christopher, Lynn Craig, Bobby Moreno, Krista Pioppi, Charlie Pollock and Brynn Williams.

The production features scenic and lighting design by Jan Versweyveld; costume design by An D'Huys; video design by Tal Yarden; sound design by Brian Ronan; choreography by Annie-B Parson; music direction by Henry Hey.

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Martin Luther King Day Concert Soul to Soul

Soul to Soul, a theatrical concert, in commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, explores the intersections between African-American and Yiddish folk music traditions. 

With music direction by NYTF Artistic Director Zalmen Mlotek and accompaniment by a four-piece Klezmer–Jazz band, SOUL TO SOUL features a cross-cultural cast including Golden Bride star, Israeli-born singer-songwriter, Lisa Fishman, renown cantor and trumpeter Magda Fishman, African-American international opera sensation Elmore James (Beauty and the Beast; Big River) and Tony Perry. The concert will be presented in English and Yiddish with English and Russian supertitles.

Soul to Soul will take place 2 pm Jan. 17 in the Edmond J. Safra Theatre at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, NYC, and is presented by National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene in collaboration with the Museum of Jewish Heritage and The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding: Rabbi Marc Schneier, President; Russell Simmons, chairman. Tickets are $20 and $15 for MJH and NYTF members and can be purchased by calling (212) 213-2120 x204 or online here. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Broadway Review: China Doll with Al Pacino

Christopher Denham and Al Pacino. Photo: Jeremy Daniel
Mamet's Latest with Al Pacino Rings Up Box Office Sales, but Leaves an I.O.U. for Content
 By Lauren Yarger
It’s all about money and what it can buy. Only China Doll, the latest from Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross, Speed the Plow), hasn’t made that theme even remotely interesting.

Paying a lot of money to have a star headline the show hasn’t worked either. Academy-Award winner Al Pacino is on the boards, but even he can’t make two hours of listening to someone talk on a phone interesting. In fact, reports are that he has a lot of trouble remembering all the mind-numbing dialogue (film actors tend to deal with shorter segments of a script as they are being filmed and don’t have to memorize the entire script at once). The opening was pushed back, apparently to give him some more time and to make some improvements to the script. It didn’t work.

Actual phones were abandoned for a Bluetooth prop, which apparently doubles as a speaker by which he is fed lines. There also are two laptops on display in the apartment set designed by Derek McLane (at first I thought the oddly appointed set was a VIP lounge in the airport since it doesn’t look like a Manhattan apartment of someone who can afford a $60 million plane.) Since Pacino seems to be looking at the monitors when fishing for lines, they probably are TelePrompTer devices. The day I attended, captioning was provided for the hearing impaired and a quick check of the screen confirmed that Pacino’s lines didn’t always match the script.

Changing that script wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, however. . .

Pacino plays very wealthy Mickey Ross, who has just bought a new toy: a multi-million-dollar jet. He is used to buying whatever he wants – including politicians, it seems. He hits a snag when the plane, manufactured in Switzerland, is impounded in Toronto with his young British fiancé aboard. Somehow the Swiss tail numbers were changed to a US registration and when it was forced to touch down here for a technical issue, everything changed making Ross liable for $5 million in taxes.

The rest of the play is a repeat of those facts – ad nauseum – as Mickey speaks on the phone with the plane’s manufacturer, his lawyer and his upset fiancé, who has been subjected to a strip search by immigration officials.

Helping him place the calls is his assistant, Carson (Christopher Denham), who manages to look interested as he stands on stage watching Pacino talk. Director Pam MacKinnon (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf), offers little help, but then there isn’t a lot an actor can do while waiting to deliver lines like, “Yes, sir,” after 15 minutes of monologue by the other actor. (It strikes me that Denham’s understudy might have the best paying gig for the fewest lines ever.)

Denham (“Master Harold”… and the Boys, Argo, “Manhattan”) impresses in that he manages to make us remember that he is on stage at all and is able to bring some plausibility when his character suddenly offers a twist to the plot requiring the services of Fight Director Thomas Schall. Well, to what little plot there is.

We get a sense that the tax situation might be payback for some of Mickey’s corrupt political dealings, and there might be a message there about not always being able to control things with money, but we’re not really sure. In fact, as we were leaving the theater, audience members who stuck it out were questioning each other about the purpose of the play.

“Do you think there was some symbolism there we just didn’t get?” one woman asked her companion.

No, ma’am, there wasn’t, as the playwright forgot to put it in there.

In all honesty, however, I did not notice a mass exodus at intermission, as had been reported as a regular occurrence. I guess if your motivation to buy a $150 ticket is to see your favorite film star on stage, you want your money’s worth. If you want to see a sharply written play for two men written by a Pulitzer-Prize winner, however, go down the street and see Hughie by Eugene O’Neill opening next month.
China Doll runs at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W 45th St., NYC, through Jan. 31.Performances are Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 pm; Thursday - Saturday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 pm; Sunday at 3 pm; Additional performance Jan. 17 at 7 pm.  Tickets are $72 - $149.50chinadollbroadway.com800- 432-7250.

Christians might also like to know:
--God's name taken in vain
-- Language (though only a few, instead of a steady raid of F-bombs we usually associate with Mamet's plays.)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Top Picks for Broadway in 2016

Lin-Manuel Miranda (center) and the Public Theater company of HamiltonPhoto: Joan Marcus.
It May Be Hamilton’s Year, but There Are Other Broadway Shows Worth Seeing This Year Too
By Lauren Yarger
If you listen to some people, there really would be no reason to write a theater preview for the rest of the 2016 Broadway season. Isn’t Hamilton going to win everything anyway?

Well, maybe. Most insiders know that when Tony time arrives next June, many  -- if not all -- of the awards will be going to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash hit musical about Alexander Hamilton’s life and loves and other Founding Fathers, all played by a non-white cast.

This is the kind of politically correct stuff Tony Award voters love – but it’s also a great, groundbreaking show. If you are an avid reader of my reviews here at Reflections in the Light, you heard about this show back when it was still Off-Broadway and ordered your tickets early (you are welcome -- read the review here.). Now, these hot-selling tickets are almost impossible to get with waits as long as six months or more for rear mezzanine seats (at pretty hefty prices).

So while this undoubtedly will be the year of Hamilton where musicals are concerned, there still are a lot of other great shows on Broadway and coming up in the moths prior to Tony madness. Here are some tips for shows opening in the future (you also will be seeing reviews in the coming weeks for shows which have already opened).

There is a little bit of everything on the schedule and quite a few shows to which I am particularly looking forward, both on and Off Broadway, this season.


Noises Off. Andrea Martin (who wowed in the Broadway revival of Pippin) and Megan Hilty (you may know her from TV’s “Smash”) headline a Roundabout Theatre Company revival of Michael Frayn’s oft-produced comedy about the putting on of a play. Rob McClure, Campbell Scott and Jeremy Shamos also star. Tickets and info:

She Loves Me. You might recognize the story here form one of its other incarnations: the films “The Shop Around the Corner,” “The Good Old Summertime” or “You’ve Got Mail.” This Jerry Bock/ Sheldon Harnick musical also is a Roundabout production. It stars Laura Benanti (Zachary Levi, and featuring Jane Krakowski, René Auberjonois and Gavin Creel. Also are in the cast. Tickets and info:

Fully Committed. Jesse Tyler Ferguson (TV’s “Modern Family” plays 40 characters connected by a restaurant reservation line in a solo comedy written by Becky Mode. Tickets and info:


Jessica Lange.
Photo: Frank Ockenfels

Long Day’s Journey Into Night. This Pulitzer-Prize winner by Eugene O’Neill is one of my favorite plays of all time. It’s perfect. End of review. The question for it always concerns the production (and in my opinion, the last Broadway revival with Brian Dennehy, Vanessa Redgrave and Philip Seymour Hoffman back in 2003 was near perfection). This revival (also, remarkably, a Roundabout Theatre production – become a subscriber today…) will star Jessica Lange as Mary and Gabriel Byrne, Michael Shannon and John Gallagher, Jr. as the rest of the troubled Tyrones. Tickets and info:

Hughie. Another O’Neill play will give Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker “The Last King of Scotland”) his Broadway debut. Famed director Michael Grandage is on board. Tickets and info:

The Crucible. One of many plays being presented on stages across the country as part of the celebration of Arthur Miller’s 100th birthday, this is one of my favorites by this playwright. Set during the Salem witch trials in the 17th century, this play has modern-day implications about singling out people for persecution. Risk-taker Ivo van Hove directs.


Eclipsed. This tale of women surviving the horrors of war in Liberia makes a transfer from Off-Broadway at the Public Theater. Written by Danai Gurirai (TV’s “The Walking Dead”), it was produced several seasons ago by Yale Rep. It is making history with its all female creative team and all female black cast. Tickets and info:

American Psycho. With music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening) this rock musical version of the popular film about an investment banker with a split personality reunited Next to Normal stars Alice Ripley and Jennifer Damiano along with Benjamin Walker and Elaine York.

Shuffle Along or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. It’s a mouthful, but when you see who’s in it, you will want to see it. Six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald is joined by Brian Stokes Mitchell, Billy Porter, Brandon Victor Dixon and Joshua Henry. Now that is a big helping of heavy singing talent. I am there. Tickets and info:


The Robber Bridegroom. I am super excited about this revival (and give the award for most picks for 2016 to Roundabout) with square-dance music (Robert Waldman) with a book by Alfred Uhry (Driving Miss Daisy). I saw this on Broadway back in 1976 and have never seen it again, though I have been listening to the soundtrack ever since. Despite the fact that I saw the show only once 40 years ago, I still remember many scenes vividly. That’s more than I can say about some shows I saw last week….. Even more exciting? Genius Alex Timbers directs and Steven Pasquale, the popular TV star (“Rescue Me”) whose singing voice impressed me in The Bridges of Madison County and Far from Heaven stars as Jamie Lockhart, the Robber Bridegroom. Tickets and info:

Lauren Yarger is Second Vice President of The Drama Desk, a member of The Outer Critics Circle and reviews Broadway, Off-Broadway and Connecticut theater.

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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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