Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Getting Taken Advantage of by a Rodgers and Hart Revue at 54 Below

Christiane Noll
 By Lauren Yarger
Christiane Noll, Darius de Haas and Debby Boone took advantage of us at Feinstein's/ 54 Below and we're perfectly fine with that.

The singers joined creator/host Deborah Grace Winer in "You Took Advantage of Me: Rodgers and Hart on Love"," a celebration of the songs of composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Lorenz Hart. The March 27 concert was the first of a Classic American Songbook Series created, written and hosted by Winer at 54 Below.

Directed by Mark Waldrop and backed up by Musical Director/pianist John Odo along with Jay Leonhart, bass and James Saporito, drums, the singers presented some Rodgers and Hart classics like "Where or When," The Lady is a Tramp," This Can't Be Love" and "You Are too Beautiful," among others, woven with some personal reflections and history about the song-writing team from Winer.

Debby Boone
Noll (Jekyl and Hyde; Ragtime) entertained with a more seductive version of "Bewitched" from Pal Joey and was the perfect cabaret image with beautiful voice and a stunning look in a blue dress set off by lighting the brings out the red hues of the walls downstairs at 54 below.

Everyone looked smashing, for that matter and appeared to be enjoying themselves in this entertaining, fast-moving hour and a half. Boone (Grammy Award) and de Haas (Shuffle Along; Kiss of the Spider Woman) joined forces for "Everything I've Got" and Noll topped off the fun with "Johnny One Note." Overall, a fun way to spend an evening celebrating the theater if you aren't actually in a theater seat.

Darius deHaas
Winer  continues the series with a Jerome Robbins Centennial Concert May 8 hosted and directed by three-time Tony winner Kathleen Marshall. She will explore how the legendary director/choreographer shaped some of Broadway's greatest musicals by Bernstein, Sondheim, Bock and Harnick, Jule Styne, Irving Berlin, Comden and Green and others.

On June 17 Winer hosts "Till There Was You: A Celebration of Barbara Cook."  Noll returns, joined by Christine Andreas, Kate Baldwin, Rebecca Luker, Linda Purl and Karen Ziemba and more to raise their voices in celebration of Barbara Cook, one of the greatest interpreters of the American Songbook.

Deborah Grace Winer
Prior to the series at 54 Below, Winer made her debut at the supper club in January with "Baby, Dream Your Dream: Great Women Writers of the American Songbook." The evening celebrated the often un-sung heroines of the Great American Songbook including Marilyn Bergman. Dorothy Fields. Mary Rodgers. Jeanine Tesori. Betty Comden. Carolyn Leigh and Lynn Ahrens.

"We’re purposely launching this brand new classic American songbook series with Rodgers and Hart’s take on love—because these songs are fresh, fun and relevant, and that’s what these shows will be,” Winer said. "It's truly exciting to be bringing a stellar family of artists and longtime collaborators to the series. We'll celebrate the greatest songwriters and their greatest songs with ultimate insider stories, the backstage world they were created in, and why these songs are cool today."

Winer is a leading expert on the American Songbook and musical theater. She recently completed a nine-season run as artistic director of the 92Y’s Lyrics and Lyricists concert series.

For information on the series at 54 Below and to purchase tickets, visit

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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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