Monday, May 7, 2018

Harry Potter, Spongebob, Admissions, Desperate Measures Take Top Outer Critics Awards

At the Lyric Theatre. Photo: Lauren Yarger

Desperate Measures at the York. Photo: Carol Rosegg

Jessica Hecht, Andrew Garman, and Ben Edelman Photo: Jeremy Daniel

Broadway stars Jenn Colella, Jim Dale, Christine Ebersole andMartha Plimpton will serve as gala award presenters at the upcoming 68th annual Outer Critics Circle Awards ceremony May 24 at Sardi’s Restaurant.

(Winners names are in bold preceded by an asterisk. *)
Outer Critics Circle
2017-2018 Awards

The Children
Farinelli and the King
*Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Escape to Margaritaville
Mean Girls
Prince of Broadway
*SpongeBob SquarePants

Cost of Living
The Low Road
Mlima’s Tale

Cruel Intentions
*Desperate Measures
Jerry Springer- The Opera
Miss You Like Hell
Woody Sez

(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
*Tina Fey     Mean Girls
Quiara Alegría Hudes     Miss You Like Hell
Kyle Jarrow     SpongeBob SquarePants
Peter Kellogg     Desperate Measures

(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
* Jonathan Coulton, David Bowie and Brian Eno, Plain White T’s, T.I., Domani Harris, and Darwin Quinn, Brendon Urie of Panic! At the Disco, Alexander Ebert of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Cyndi Lauper and Rob Hyman, Yolanda Adams, The Flaming Lips, Sara Bareilles, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Lady Antebellum, John Legend, They Might Be Giants, Andy Paley and Tom Kenny, Derek Drymon, Mark Harrison, Stephen Hillenburg, and Blaise Smith, and Tom Kitt –  SpongeBob SquarePants
David Friedman and Peter Kellogg          Desperate Measures
Imogen Heap                   Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Erin McKeown and Quiara Alegría Hudes            Miss You Like Hell
Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez              Frozen

(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
*Angels in America
Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train
Lobby Hero
Three Tall Women

(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
*My Fair Lady
Once on This Island
Pacific Overtures

Jo Bonney     Cost of Living
Marianne Elliott     Angels in America
Patrick Marber     Travesties
Joe Mantello     Three Tall Women
*John Tiffany     Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Michael Arden     Once on This Island
Bill Castellino     Desperate Measures
*Tina Landau     SpongeBob SquarePants  (tie)
Casey Nicholaw     Mean Girls
*Bartlett Sher     My Fair Lady  (tie)

Camille A. Brown     Once on This Island
Christopher Gattelli     My Fair Lady
Christopher Gattelli     SpongeBob SquarePants
Steven Hoggett     Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
*Justin Peck     Carousel

(Play or Musical)
Miriam Buether     Three Tall Women
Myung Hee Cho     In the Body of the World
*Christine Jones     Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Michael Yeargan     My Fair Lady
David Zinn     SpongeBob SquarePants

(Play or Musical)
Katrina Lindsay     Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Clint Ramos     Once on This Island
Paloma Young     Time and the Conways
David Zinn     SpongeBob SquarePants
*Catherine Zuber     My Fair Lady

(Play or Musical)
Kevin Adams     SpongeBob SquarePants
*Neil Austin     Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Paule Constable     Angels in America
Paul Russell     Farinelli and the King
Lap Chi Chu     Mlima’s Tale

(Play or Musical)
Tim Reid     1984
Finn Ross     Frozen
Finn Ross     In the Body of the World
Finn Ross and Adam Young     Mean Girls
*Finn Ross and Ash Woodward     Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

(Play or Musical)
*Gareth Fry     Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Kate Marvin     [Porto]
Fitz Patton     Napoli, Brooklyn
Marc Salzberg     My Fair Lady
Darron L. West     Mlima’s Tale

Jason Robert Brown, Charlie Rosen, Larry Blank, & Sam Davis          Prince of Broadway
Tom Kitt     SpongeBob SquarePants
AnnMarie Milazzo and Michael Starobin     Once on This Island
*Jonathan Tunick     Carousel
Claire van Kampen     Farinelli and the King

Sean Carvajal     Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train
*Andrew Garfield     Angels in America
Tom Hollander     Travesties
Gregg Mozgala     Cost of Living
Michael Urie     The Government Inspector

MaameYaa Boafo     School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play
Jessica Hecht     Admissions
*Glenda Jackson     Three Tall Women
Lauren Ridloff     Children of a Lesser God
Katy Sullivan     Cost of Living

Harry Hadden-Paton     My Fair Lady
Joshua Henry     Carousel
David M. Lutken     Woody Sez
Conor Ryan     Desperate Measures
*Ethan Slater     SpongeBob SquarePants
*Lauren Ambrose     My Fair Lady
Erika Henningsen     Mean Girls
Hailey Kilgore     Once On This Island
Taylor Louderman     Mean Girls
Patti Murin     Frozen

Anthony Boyle     Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Johnny Flynn     Hangmen
*Nathan Lane     Angels in America
David Morse     The Iceman Cometh
Paul Sparks     At Home at the Zoo

Jamie Brewer     Amy and the Orphans
Denise Gough     Angels in America
Harriet Harris     The Low Road
* Laurie Metcalf     Three Tall Women
Mary Testa     The Government Inspector    

*Norbert Leo Butz     My Fair Lady
Alexander Gemignani     Carousel
Gavin Lee     SpongeBob SquarePants
Nick Wyman     Desperate Measures
Tony Yazbeck     Prince of Broadway

Kerry Butler    Mean Girls
*Lindsay Mendez     Carousel
Lauren Molina     Desperate Measures
Ashley Park     Mean Girls  
Emily Skinner     Prince of Broadway

*Billy Crudup     Harry Clarke
Eve Ensler     In the Body of the World
Alison Fraser     Squeamish    
John Lithgow     Stories By Heart
Sharon Washington     Feeding the Dragon

(Presented for an American play, preferably by a new playwright)
Kate Benson     [Porto]
*Jocelyn Bioh     School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play
Lindsey Ferrentino     Amy and the Orphans
Meghan Kennedy     Napoli, Brooklyn
Dominique Morisseau     Pipeline

Celebrating its 68th season of bestowing awards of excellence in the field of theatre, the Outer Critics Circle, is an association with members affiliated with more than ninety newspapers, magazines, web sites, radio and television stations, and theatre publications in America and abroad. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Broadway Theater Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 and 2 TOP PICK

Noma Dumezweni, Susan Heyward, Paul Thornley, Olivia Bond, Ben Wheelwright,
Jamie Parker, Poppy Miller, Sam Clemmett . Photo: Manuel Harlan
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 and 2
By Jack Thorne, based on a story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany
Directed by John Tiffany
Lyric Theatre

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
The Broadway transfer of the London  hit sequel story to the Harry Potter books. The show is presented in two parts, each just over two and a half hours, and yes, you really do need to see both parts. And no, you don't have to know the story of Harry and his magical friends to enjoy this time-hopping story by Jack Thorne based on a story by Harry Potter book author J.K. Rowling and stage director John Tiffany.

Almost 20 years after the books ended, Harry (Jamie Parker),an employee of the Ministry of Magic and his wife, Ginny (Poppy Miller) are the parents of three kids, the eldest of which, Albus Severus (Sam Clemmett) is about to head off for wizard training at Hogwarts. Joke shop owner Ron Weasley (an amusing Paul Thornley) and Hermione Granger (Noma Dumezweni), who is now Minister of Magic, send their daughter, Rose (Susan Heyward) on the Hogwart's Express as well. Note: the color-blind casting of African-American Dumezweni threw me at first and had me wondering what happened to Hermione because in the one movie I had seen, Hermione was white. All Potter fans knew that Dumezweni was Hermione immediately, of course, because they knew from the books (which I hadn't read) that Hermione and Ron got married.

At school, Harry befriends Scorpius Malfoy (a delightful Anthony Boyle), the son of Harry's nemesis Draco.

I won't tell you more, as you will want to discover the plot yourself, but I will let you know that some events and characters from the past are revisited through time travel.

What Are the Highlights?
A thoroughly absorbing story with one of the most complex plots I ever have seen on stage.

The special effects are dazzling. Intricate and at the same time, surprisingly simple. I won't give too many details because I don't want to spoil, but the time-travel effects are amazing (illusions and magic by Jamie Harrison). Millions of dollars well spent.

Thoroughly enjoyed this play, even though the Harry Potter books never appealed to me. The more than six-hour run time (I saw both parts in one day) went by very quickly.

This show has virtually no competition to win the Tony Award for Best Play. Excellence at every level of performance and creative craft. Well done in an intimate setting that makes you feel you are part of the action. It is the highlight of my season,

What Are the Lowlights?
While the time travel is done very well, there is some confusion a couple of times when harry is remembering or dreaming about past events. We haven't traveled back in time and to someone not familiar with the books or movies, it is not immediately clear that these scenes are from the past. It's a small gripe-- 99 percent of the audience recognizes little Harry (Will Coombs and Landon Haas share the role).

More Information:
Harry Potter is doing theater magic at the Lyric Theatre, which has been refurbished to accommodate this show, at 214 West 43rd St., NYC.

Additional credits:
Movement by Steven Hoggett, (fabulous) Set by Christine Jones, Costumes by Katrina Lindsay, Musica and Arrangements by Imogen Heap, Lighting by Neil Austin, Sound by Gareth Fry, Music Supervision and Arrangements by Martin Lowe.

Tickets are hard to get and expensive, but there is a lottery. Check out the page at
The running time of Part One is approximately 2 hours 40 minutes and Part Two runs approximately 2 hours 35 minutes. Both include one 20-minute intermission.

Photo: Matthew Murphy

I am not listing additional casting, because I don't want to spoil which characters might or might not appear in this sequel.

-- Magic

Broadway Theater Review: The Iceman Cometh

David Morse, Denzel Washington, and Colm Meaney. Photo: Julieta Cervantes
The Iceman Cometh
By Eugene O'Neill
Directed by George C. Wolfe
Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre 
Through July 1

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
The Eugene O'Neill 1939 marathon we all used to read in high school. You can brush up, or get your first taste, bu reading the Sparks Notes. This Broadway revival stars Denzel Washington.

What Are the highlights?
Anytime Denzel washington is on stage, it's a highlight. He gives a good turn as salesman Theodore Hickman "Hickey." who makes periodic visits to a Greenwich Village dive bar (Set Designer Santo Loquasto gives us the moody atmosphere) run by, metaphorically named Harry Hope (Colm Meaney). 

What Are the Lowlights?
Four hours of 12 drunk men thinking they are important. the women in the cast, of course, are prostitutes (and perhaps lesbians as portrayed by Director Goerge C. Wolfe?)  Two intermissions and a brief pause between the "action" didn't help convince me that this much of my time was well spent on a revival of a play that should have been retired a long time ago. Is there anyone making decisions about what gets on a Broadway stage who actually cares about parity or is that all talk? Let's produce some shows that are a little bit interesting to women, who make up more than 65 percent of the ticket buyers. A cute Hollywood star who will mean good box office isn't enough.

More information:
The Iceman Cometh provides a testosterone fix at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 west 45th st., NYC through July 1. Performances are at 7 pm Tuesday-Friday; 1:30 and 7:30 on Saturday and 1:30 pm on Sunday. Tickets are $79- $209:

The company also features David Morse, Bill Irwin, Tammy Blanchard, Carolyn Braver, Austin Butler, Joe Forbrich, Nina Grollman, Thomas Michael Hammond, Neal Huff, Danny Mastrogiorgio, Dakin Matthews, Danny McCarthy, Jack McGee, Clark Middleton, Michael Potts, Reg Rogers and Frank Wood.

Note: If you leave your seat, you will not be permitted back in the theater until a break.The line for the restroom is ridiculously long and there isn't enough time for everyone to get through before the short intermissions are over. The day I attended, the theater was FREEZING -- bring a sweater.

-- PG 13 content
-- Language
-- Racial slur
-- Abuse of women
-- God's name taken in vain

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

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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