Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Off-Broadway Theater Review: Skeleton Crew

Skeleton Crew
By Dominique Morisseau
Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson
Atlantic Theater Company

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
This s the final play of Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit Trilogy about workers at the last exporting auto plant in the city. It's so good, I definitely want to see the previous two plays, Detriot '67 and Paradise Blue in the cycle (the three are not related except for the setting).

Here, workers on the line struggle to survive amidst rumors that the plant will be closing. That will not be welcome news. Foreman Reggie (Wendell B. Franklin) has made a career for himself at the plant and just bought his family a home. Shanita (Nikiya Mahis) is pregnant and needs the benefits. And matriarchal figure Faye (a terrific Lynda Gravatt), who literally was a mother to Reggie -- the son of her deceased lesbian partner -- has fallen on hard times and is staying in the break rooms at nights when it is too cold to sleep in her car.

Reggie confides in Faye that layoffs may be coming, and troublemaker Dez (Jason Dirden) probably will be one of the first to go. Someone has been stealing fro the plant at night and Reggie has to find a balance between being a manager and remaining true to his roots to do what is right for everyone.  Scenes are introduced by a performer (Adesola Osakalumi, who also choreographs) doing robot-styled dance moves ( to original music and songs by Robert Kaplowitz, who also designs the sound, and Jimmy "J.Keys" Keys) which are projected onto the set (Nicholas Hussong designs the projections; Michael Carnahan designs the authentic-looking break room where the characters hand out, naturally costumed by Paul Tazewell.)

What Are the Highlights?
An engrossing, pertinent script, well acted and directed, Despite a rather depressing atmosphere, made heavy by the threat of unemployment, Morrisseau skillfully weaves humor, friendship and forgiveness into the story to round it out. The action on  stage may depict issues specific to Detroit's auto industry, but the playwright poignantly reminds us that anyone's life can change in the blink of an eye and the reality is that these characters could be any one of us who are living pay check to pay check in the current economy.

What are the Lowlights?

More Information:
Skeleton Crew originally played at Atlantic Stage 2 and has re-opened at the Linda Gross Theatre, 336 West 20th St, NYC. It plays through June 19. 

-- Homeosexuality
-- God's name taken in vain

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Drama Desk Holds Panel on Revivals

Robin Milling, Gavin Creel, Warren Carlyle, Steve Pasquale, Alex Timbers, Jessica Vosk. Photos: Barry Gordin

With Warren Carlyle

With Steven Pasquale

Isa Goldberg, William Wolf, Robert Blume, Charles Wright, Lauren Yarger

Friday, May 20, 2016

Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda Among Winners at Drama League Awards

Lin-Manuel Miranda
Hamilton won the award for Outstanding Production of a Musical,  and its composer and star, Lin-Manual Miranda, won the Distinguished Performance Award at the 82nd annual Drama League Awards Friday, May 20.

Other awards went to
  • Outstang Play -- The Humans
  • Outstanding Revival of a Musical -- The Color Purple
  • Outstanding Revival of a Play --  A View From The Bridge
In addition to the competitive categories, Sheldon Harnick was honored with the Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theater Award; Deaf West Theatre was honored with the Unique Contribution to the Theater Award for their vital work; and Ivo van Hove was honored with the Founders Award for Excellence in Directing.

The ceremony and luncheon at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square was hosted by Megan Hilty and Zachary Levi.

First awarded in 1922 and formalized in 1935, The Drama League Awards are the oldest theatrical honors in America. They are the only major theatergoer awards chosen by audience members — specifically, by the thousands of Drama League members nationwide who attend Broadway and Off-Broadway productions.

The Drama League Awards honor distinguished productions, performances, and exemplary career achievements in musical theatre and directing. The first Drama League Award was presented to Katharine Cornell in 1935. Since then, the Distinguished Performance Award has been accorded to a roster of theater legends such as Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Lane, Audra McDonald, Liam Neeson, Hugh Jackman, Patti LuPone, Glenn Close, Liev Schreiber, Sir John Gielgud, Harvey Fierstein, Cherry Jones, Alec Guinness, James Earl Jones, Julie Harris, Helen Hayes, Jeremy Irons, Mary-Louise Parker, Sir Ian McKellen, Bernadette Peters, Christopher Plummer and Chita Rivera.


Richard Rodgers Theatre
Book, Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Directed by Thomas Kail
Richard Rodgers Theatre
Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman, and
The Public Theater (Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director;
Patrick Willingham, Executive Director), producers
* * *
The Humans
Helen Hayes Theatre
By Stephen Karam
Directed by Joe Mantello
Scott Rudin, Barry Diller, Fox Theatricals, James L. Nederlander, Terry Allen Kramer,
Roy Furman, Daryl Roth, Jon B. Platt, Eli Bush, Broadway Across America, Jack Lane,
Barbara Whitman, Jay Alix & Una Jackman, Scott M. Delman, Sonia Friedman, Amanda Lipitz, Peter May, Stephanie P. McClelland, Lauren Stein, The Shubert Organization,
and The Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes, Artistic Director, Harold Wolpert, Managing Director, and Julia C. Levy, Executive Director), producers;
Joey Parnes, Sue Wagner, John Johnson, executive producers
* * *
The Color Purple
Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
Book by Marsha Norman
Music and Lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray
Directed by John Doyle
Scott Sanders Productions, Roy Furman, Oprah Winfrey, David Babani, Rom Siracusa,
Caiola Productions, James Fantaci, Ted Liebowitz, Stephanie P. McClelland, James L. Nederlander,
Darren Bagert, Candy Spelling, Adam Zotovich, Eric Falkenstien/Morris Berchard, Just For Laughs Theatricals/Tanya Link Productions, Adam S. Gordon,
Jam Theatricals, Kelsey Grammer, Independent Presenters Network, Carol Fineman, Sandy Block, producers
* * *
A View From The Bridge
Lyceum Theatre
By Arthur Miller
Directed by Ivo van Hove
Scott Rudin, Lincoln Center Theater, Eli Bush. Robert G. Bartner, Roger Berlind, William Berlind,
Roy Furman, Peter May, Amanda Lipitz, Stephanie P. McClelland, Jay Alix & Una Jackman,
Scott M. Delman, Sonia Friedman, John Gore, Ruth Hendel, JFL Theatricals, Heni Koenigsberg,
Jon B. Platt, Daryl Roth, Spring Sirkin, producers

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 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 was 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 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 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 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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