Sunday, October 23, 2022

Remembering Susan L. Schulman

 


Press Agent Susan L. Schulman

By Lauren Yarger

With the death of Broadway Publicist Susan L. Schulman, we have lost not only one of our best press agents and a trailblazer for women in the industry, but one of the most enthusiastic lovers and supporters that Broadway has ever known. Additionally, I have lost a good friend.

Born and raised in New York City, Susan was a graduate of New York University and Columbia. She began her career at Lincoln Center before beginning a career working with theatrical publicists Bill Doll, Mary Bryant, Arthur Cantor, Frank Goodman and Merle Debuskey. Among the shows she worked on in the 1970s were the original productions of ApplauseCompany Sly Fox, Follies and Dancin'.

In the late ’70s she decided to go out on her own and opened her own theatrical press office in the Paramount Building in Times Square. Her clients included Karen Akers, Jack Gilford, Carlin Glynn and Peter Masterson, Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion, Manhattan Theatre Club, the Broadway productions of Crazy For You and State Fair, as well as various national tours. As a member of the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers since 1973, she trained a number of the press agents now handling Broadway and Off-Broadway shows.

She did publicity for television and film and represented individual clients as well, like Karen Ziemba, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Karen Mason, Kathleen Chalfant and Steve Cuden, all of whom she called friends and endlessly praised. In fact, I can’t think of anyone who wanted others to succeed more than Susan Schulman. She used to wait at stage doors, not for autographs, but to tell actors how they had enhanced her life. That’s a rare quality in this business.

Always a delightful storyteller, Susan shared memories of her experiences (both good and bad) in her book, “Backstage Pass to Broadway.” She tastefully recounted experiences dealing with artists like Lauren Bacall, David Merrick, Zero Mostel and the thrill of watching Yul Brynner perform. I was always kidding her that she had met everyone who was anyone in this industry, and for me, the most exciting of the stars she counted among her friends was John Cullum. I had fallen head-over-heels with the actor when he was in Shenandoah, where Susan met him while working the show’s press.

She enjoyed my weak knees and jellied brain any time I met my favorite star and made sure I had a chance to meet him whenever she could arrange it. Susan could work any room and made sure that everyone felt comfortable, had what they needed and that your good side was facing the camera. And for me, she made sure that I didn’t faint and make a fool of myself while in John’s company (and I mean she quite literally held me upright on one occasion all while carrying on a delightful conversation so that no one was the wiser that I was about to hit the deck). Attending shows with Susan in which John starred are some of my happiest theater memories.

We enjoyed each other’s company. She was a favorite plus-one whenever I attended any theater and she returned the favor, inviting me to many interesting events that she was publicizing or to join her when her friends were performing. When I wasn’t joining her, I was living vicariously through her as she did exciting things like attend a gala at the Downtown Abbey mansion with friend Susan Hampshire or chat with former boyfriend and still good friend, Henry Winkler.

She was a frequent speaker and panelist. She had a home up in Connecticut and was a former member of our Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. Here she served on a panel for us and was always ready to help get the word onjut about any projects that the chapter, or I personally, had in the works.

We kept in touch via email and Zoom during the pandemic. Conversations became more serious, especially after she received a life-threatening diagnosis. It was a thrill when we reunited in person last February for what was her first re-entry to the theater post Covid: Broadway’s The Music Man. What a delightful time! She was like a schoolgirl, so delighted to be back at live theater and so complimentary of the performances of Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster, the set design, the costumes, the orchestra – as always, finding ways to praise and bring attention to every effort.

I recently remembered collaborating on a project together, but we just couldn’t get it off the ground. We laughed as we decided if the two of us couldn’t do it, it couldn’t be done. She was the kind of person who it was fun to be with even in failure. I am glad we spent the time together that we did. 

Our last show together was Company. I have a show coming up which I would have invited her to and we would have enjoyed discussing it after. Don’t take your friends for granted. Enjoy them while you can.

Oh, and one more thing you should know about Susan. She made the best chopped chicken liver according to anyone who ever ate it at any of her holiday open houses. They were always attended by many from the industry, all of whom were welcomed with a warm smile from Susan, who was genuinely glad to see them. She will be missed deeply by many. And by me, for a very long time.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Broadway Theater Review: 1776

 

Elizabeth A. Davis, Patrena Murray, Crystal Lucas-Perry in Roundabout Theatre Company's 1776. Photo: Joan Marcus

1776

Music and Lyrics by Sherman Edwards
Book By Peter Stone, based on a concept by Sherman Edwards
Directed by Jeffrey L. Page and Diane Paulus
Choreography by Jeffrey L. Page
American Airlines Theatre
Through Jan. 8, 2023 

By Lauren Yarger
What if? What if all of the roles played by men in the musical 1776 could be played by women instead. No, make that women, transgender and non-binary (identifying as neither man nor woman) actors? What would happen?

Pretty much nothing new....  at least not in Roundabout Theatre's revival of 1776 which tells the tale of the Founding Fathers as they struggle with the heat, and the conflicting issues of freedom and slavery in the summer of 1776 in Philadelphia as the Declaration of Independence is drafted.

It takes (or at least it took me) some time to get used to the idea of anybody but a man playing characters who are men. For me, gender bending casting is fine if you don't notice it and if it doesn't detract from the storytelling. The script isn't changed and the characters are still men. There are no editorial moments where someone points out the obvious -- that no women were involved in forming the new nation --  save one moment that has a contemporary feel when Abigail Adams (Allyson Kaye Daniel) writes to her husband, John Adams (Crystal Lucas-Perry) that men won't be the only citizens of the new nation:

"By the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice, or representation."

But that line is part of the original script, so having a non-male John Adams receive it didn't really change the thought. And Thomas Jefferson being played by an actress (a very talented, violin-playing Elizabeth A. Davis) who happens to be pregnant, kind of added to my inability to engage in that story for a while, especially when Jefferson, unable to write because he is missing the attentions of his young, new bride, gets a connubial visit from another actress playing Martha Jefferson (Eryn LeCroy).  Again, where gender or race manipulations take out  minds away from the story they are better not made.

After a while, I was able to just see actors playing roles, and actually, some seem well suited and step right into character, like Benjamin Franklin (Patrena Murray -- this interpretation is exactly how I imagine Franklin) and Rhode Island's delegate Stephen Hopkins (Joanna Glushak). I am an advocate for more women represented on and behind our theater stages, but I didn't feel a compelling enough reason to justify switching all of the genders in this production.

In Hamilton, for example, where the Founding Fathers and everyone except King George III is played by a person of color, the story of the nation's founding was the same. It just has a more inclusive feel to it -- that our nation's story is everyone's story. That we all are in this together. Changing genders -- and adding transgender and nonbinary actors -- in 1776 makes the statement that Broadway, not necessarily the country --  wants change. A better option would have been to commission an authorized rewrite of Peter Stone's book or to create a brand new musical focusing on the women who weren't in that room: Abigail Adams, Martha Jefferson, Martha Washington, Mrs. Benjamin Franklin, Sally Hemmings, etc. What they endured would make great drama and would make a strong statement about the importance of women in our nation.

There is a subtle message made about racism as some actors who are African American are on the receiving end of dialogue about slavery. But again, more of an impact could be made by putting the words of enslaved Americans to paper in a different story.

One place where the gender bending and staging do not work at all is in the typically compelling "Molasses to Rum" number, where Edward Rutledge (Sara Porkalob) tries point out to his northern anti-slavery constitutional colleagues that while the south uses slaves as part of its economy, the north benefits from it, so they are involved in the institution as well. Something about a person of color singing a song by a character who is supposed to be a white slave owner just didn't work for me. The staging and choreography by Directors Diane Paulus and Jeffrey L. Page suggested big production number instead of highlighting the hate and racism that reveal Rutledge and slavery to be repulsive by the end of the song (if you never have seen John Cullum perform this number, watch the film. It's amazing as he starts as a southern gentleman and builds to a lusty, frenzied, despicable man).

Other songs by Sherman Edwards still hold their own, like "Sit Down, John," He Plays the Violin," Momma, Look Sharp." The show plans a national tour beginning in February in Philadelphia.

1776 makes history at the American Airlines Theatre,  227 West 42nd St., NYC,  through Jan. 8, 2023. roundabouttheatre.org.

Cast:
Crystal Lucas-Perry as John Adams, Gisela Adisa as Robert Livingston, Nancy Anderson as George Read, Becca Ayers as Col. Thomas McKean, Tiffani Barbour as Andrew McNair, Carolee Carmello as John Dickinson, Allyson Kaye Daniel as Abigail Adams/Rev. Jonathan Witherspoon, Elizabeth A. Davis as Thomas Jefferson, Mehry Eslaminia as Charles Thomson, Joanna Glushak as Stephen Hopkins, Shawna Hamic as Richard Henry Lee, Eryn LeCroy as Martha Jefferson/Dr. Lyman Hall, Liz Mikel as John Hancock, Patrena Murray as Benjamin Franklin, Oneika Phillips as Joseph Hewes, Lulu Picart as Samuel Chase, Sara Porkalob as Edward Rutledge, Sushma Saha as Judge James Wilson, Brooke Simpson as Roger Sherman, Salome B. Smith as Courier, Sav Souza as Dr. Josiah Bartlett, Jill Vallery as Caesar Rodney, and Shelby Acosta, Ariella Serur, Grace Stockdale, Dawn L. Troupe and Imani Pearl Williams as Standbys.

Other credits:
Music Supervision by David Chase, Orchestrations by John Clancy, Vocal Design by AnnMarie Milazzo, Music Direction by Ryan Cantwell, Scott Pask (Sets), Emilio Sosa (Costumes), Jen Schriever (Lights), Jonathan Deans (Sound), David Bengali (Projections), Mia Neal (Hair & Wigs), Brisa Areli Muñoz (Associate Director)

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:
-- God's name taken in vain
-- minimal language

Covid Protocol:
Vaccine not required.
For all performances of 1776, all audience members seated in the first row of the orchestra will be required to wear approved masks provided by Roundabout. If you purchase tickets in these designated locations you will be required to wear an approved mask. Audience members not seated in this row are encouraged to wear their own masks.

Broadway Theater Review: Leopoldstadt

Joshua Satine. Photo: Joan Marcus

Leopoldstadt
By Tom Stoppard
Directed by Patrick Marber
Longacre Theatre (220 W 28th St, NYC).

By Lauren Yarger
One family's journey of love and endurance plays out against the backdrop of the Holocaust in what playwright Tom Stoppard says will be his last play, Leopoldstadt.

The work was inspired by some of Stoppard's family's experience, where Jewish roots were long again forgotten or buried firmly under ground. 

Set in Vienna, Leopoldstadt takes its title from the city's Jewish quarter. Stoppard stakes us on a more than half-century journey with the Merz and Jacobovicz families beginning in 1899 and ending in 1955. The family's extended genealogy tree is shown a few times thanks to Scenic, Lighting and Video Designers Neil Austin, Richard Hudson and Isaac Madge respectively (though given the complex story telling and huge cast of 38 a pull-out copy of it in the program might be helpful). Period images are shown between scenes, but we have no idea who the people are.

At the beginning of the saga, the extended family and friends celebrate December holidays in their opulent apartment. Gathered are Matriarch Grandma Emilia Merz (Betsy Aidem), her son
Hermann (David Krumholtz) and his wife (and a Gentile), Gretl (Faye Castlelow), and their son Jacob (Joshua Satine and Aaron Shuf) who is 8. 

Hermann’s sister, Eva (Caissie Levy) and her husband, Ludwig (Brandon Urbanowitz), their son, Pauli (Drew Squire) and their new baby girl, Nellie. Ludwig’s sister, Wilma (Jenna Augen), is married to Gentile Ernst (Aaron Neil). They have two daughters, Sally (Reese Bogin and Romy Fay) and Rosa (Pearl Scarlet Gold and Ava Michele Hyl). Rounding out the family portrait is Ludwig and Wilma’s unmarried younger sister, Hanna (Colleen Litchfield), who plays the piano.

There is laughter and fun, talk of romance for Hanna, who has met an attractive soldier named Fritz (Arty Froushan). Grandma shares stories and pictures from the family album, there is excitement as Gretl is having her portrait painted and a star of David is placed on top of a Christmas tree. All is harmony.

In 1924 the family is joined by Hermine (Eden Epstein), the daughter of Hanna and Kurt (Daniel Cantor), an older Rosa (Augen), Jacob (Seth Numrich), Nellie (Tedra Millan), Sally (Sara Topham) and her husband, Zac (Matt Harrington) as well as Aaron (Jesse Aaronson), Nellie's husband. Nellie sews an Austrian flag, Rosa has come from America for a bris, which gets more discussion that rising unrest against the Jews. The family and their circumstances change, but the photo album, a game of cat's cradle and that portrait of Gretl in her green shawl are constant ties that bind the family together.

In 1938, journalist Percy Chamberlain (Numrich) joins the family and tries to get them to understand that things in Vienna are deteriorating and that they must leave. The general attitude seems to be that the family has weathered similar situations in the past and that they can get exit visas later if necessary.

"It will pass, and something else will take its place," Eva says assuredly. An ominous visit from an official of the state (Cory Brill) and the sound of breaking glass prove Percy's words that "things will get worse . . . much worse," is the right prediction.

Finally, in 1955 there is a reunion of an older Nathan and Rosa and Nellie and Aaron's son Leo (Froushan), who does not remember any of his family roots.

While the family's saga is moving, most of the action takes place off stage and the characters spend most of their time telling us about it. The scene with the government official taking over the family's apartment and questioning them about their activities is  the most compelling, because we experience it with them. Most everything else is second hand with lots of exposition that can turn into a yawn fest. There's only so much Director Patrick Marber can do with so many moving parts.

My guess is that if the playwright's name was not Tom Stoppard, this play would have been sent back for some fine tuning and trimming before getting a staging (the run time is two hours and 10 minutes with no intermission). But because it is Tom Stoppard,  Leopoldstadt received the Olivier Award for Best New Play in October 2020 for its West End run. And because he has four other Tony Awards for best play under his belt (the most of any playwright), look for this, his 19th play on Broadway,  to  get another Tony nod in June.

Meanwhile, don't be off by the fact that you can't remember who's who or get confused by new actors in for aging characters or doubling roles. In the end, it's the collective family experience that matters. PS 23 of the 38 actors in this production are making their Broadway debuts.


Leopoldstadt plays at the Longacre Theatre, 220 W 28th St, NYC. leopoldstadtplay.com.


Additional credits:

Costume Design, Brigitte Reiffenstuel; sound and original music Adam Cork;  and movement by Emily Jane Boyle.

FAMILY-FREINDLY FACTORS:
-- No notes

Covid Protocol: 
Masks not required

Broadway Theater Review: Cost of Living

KatySullivan, David Zayas. Photo: Jeremy Daniel

Gregg Mozgala, Kara Young. Photo: Jeremy Daniel

Cost of Living
By Martyna Majok 
Directed by Jo Bonney
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Extended through Nov. 6

By Lauren Yarger
The bonds of love and friendship and just how far they will stretch are the themes behind Martyna Majok's moving play, Cost of Living, getting a Broadway run by Manhattan Theatre Club.

The drama, which focuses on two persons with special needs and their caretakers, won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize.

Jo Bonney ably directs on Wilson Chinn's stark set where a few key props define locale and mood, in harmony with lighting design by Jeff Croiter.

Eddie (David Zayas) and Ani (Katy Sullivan) are a separated married couple. Things are tense, as Ani is still bitter over the "other women" and Eddie struggles to offer help in the aftermath of an accident which has left Ani without the full use of one of her arms and without both her legs. (Sullivan, who was born without legs, is the first female amputee to star in a Broadway role). Ani needs the help and Eddie needs the money, so they proceed in what becomes an awkward dependence on each other and allows them to rekindle the friendship they shared in marriage.

The second story, told in alternating staging with the first, involves Jess (Kara Young), who seems desperate for a caretaking job despite having a degree from Princeton and practically begs John (Gregg Mozgala), for the opportunity to be the wheel-chair bound man's personal aide (both the character and the actor have Cerebral Palsy). John struggles with being vulnerable and dependent, but Jess is determined and a quick friendship -- and maybe more -- develops. We see the development of these two relationships over a four-month period.

The complexity of the situations is honed by Majok's even more developed characters -- all are flawed, but so real that we can't help but like them and root for them. When they don't live up to our expectations, we react with surprise and disappointment just as we would with real friends whom we thought we could trust. Majok interjects just the right amount of humor and human frailty into the script to balance the the depressing nature of the situations in which the characters find themselves during the one hour and 40 minutes without intermission.

In the end, the message is that people need people. And they need to be needed.
"If everything was perfect in yer life, no holes you had to fill, you wouldn’t be here," Ani tells Eddie. She's right. And we need more plays like this that tell stories about real people in the real world.

Cost of Living has been extended through Nov. 6 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St.) 

Additional credits:
Jessica Pabst (costume design), Rob Kaplowitz (sound design), Mikaal Sulaiman (original music), Thomas Schall (movement consultant). 

FAMILY-FAMILY FACTORS:
-- Language
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Nudity (though discreet)

Covid Protocol:
Masks are required.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Phantom to Close on Broadway

 


Norm Lewis as the Phantom of the Opera. Photo: Matthew Murphy

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA will conclude its history-making run in February 2023.  The longest-running show in Broadway history, the New York production will first celebrate its unprecedented 35th Anniversary on Jan. 26. It will then play an additional four weeks towards its final performance – its colossal 13,925th – on Saturday, Feb. 18, allowing one of the most romantic musicals in Broadway history to end its run during Valentine’s Week. 

Directed by the late theater legend Harold Prince, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA plays at The Majestic Theatre (245 West 44th Street), the musical’s New York home for its entire run.  As much a part of the city landscape as the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, the blockbuster phenomenon has long been a New York City landmark.  Widely considered one of the most beautiful and spectacular productions in history, the musical set the bar with its lavish sets and costumes, large cast and Broadway’s largest orchestra – a perfect match for its sumptuous score and classic love story.

Producer Cameron Mackintosh said today, “As a British producer who has been lucky enough to have been producing in New York for over 40 consecutive years, it has been an unparalleled honour to have presented the longest-running musical in Broadway’s history, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.  That this legendary show has thrilled New York for nearly 35 phenomenal years is quite astounding to me. 

 As a producer you dream that a show will run forever.  Indeed, my roduction of Andrew’s Cats proudly declared for decades ‘Now and Forever.’  Yet PHANTOM has surpassed that show’s extraordinary Broadway run.  

But all shows do finally close, and after considerable discussion between The Shuberts, The Really Useful Group, Andrew and myself, we concluded that the right time for PHANTOM  was after the show’s 35th birthday on February 18 – a double celebration of PHANTOM’s phenomenal success. 

This production has proved to be the greatest triumph for Broadway’s legendary director and producer, Hal Prince, as well as Britain’s celebrated choreographer Dame Gillian Lynne and the inspired Norwegian designer, Maria Björnson, who are all sadly no longer with us.    It is impossible to thank enough the thousands of talented American artists and musicians who have performed so brilliantly in this production.  The staff at the Shubert’s Majestic Theatre have been extraordinary as have all our creative teams, who have lovingly nurtured the show so magnificently over the years. 

Gaston Leroux’s opera ghost may be disappearing for now, but there is no doubt that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s masterpiece will continue to enchant audiences in London and around the world – and one day will return to Broadway.  

Our gratitude to American audiences falling in love with The Phantom is infinite.” 

The leaders of The Shubert Organization first fell in love with THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA when they saw an early presentation of the first act in June 1985, at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s annual Sydmonton Festival. Their enthusiasm only intensified when PHANTOM made its triumphant debut in London in 1986. They immediately determined that the future Broadway production must be presented at The Majestic, their 1,655-seat theatre on West 44th Street, home of the original productions of South PacificCarousel and The Music Man “It took some serious trans-Atlantic lobbying by the Shubert top brass – Gerald Schoenfeld, Bernard B. Jacobs and Philip J. Smith – to win the day and ultimately get the show into The Majestic. They happily spent millions of dollars for the theatre to accommodate PHANTOM’s unique set,” stated Shubert Chairman and CEO, Robert E. Wankel. “Of course, PHANTOM became a phenomenal success, breaking all records to become the longest-running show in Broadway history. On behalf of The Shubert Organization, I want to express our gratitude to Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cameron Mackintosh, The Really Useful Group and Hal Prince for lighting up the stage of The Majestic Theatre for 35 glorious years.”

The on-sale date for tickets for the final four weeks of performances – including the 35th Anniversary, Valentine’s Day and the final performance –  as well as details on all celebrations, will be announced at a future date.

 During its New York run, PHANTOM shattered every possible record for advance sales, capitalization, total gross, total attendance and longevity.  It became the longest-running show in Broadway history on January 9, 2006 – when it surpassed the nearly 18-year run of Cats – and has since almost doubled that figure.  The production’s nearly 14,000 performances have been seen by 19.5 million people and grossed a staggering $1.3 billion.  Indeed, PHANTOM has been the largest single generator of income and jobs in Broadway and U.S. theatrical history.  In the New York production alone, an estimated 6,500 people (including 450 actors) have been employed during its more than three decades run. 

The musical also changed the landscape for touring across the country – inspiring the renovation of theaters and opera houses across the country to house it and revitalizing the economies of countless U.S. cities.  The three original U.S. national tours combined grossed over $1.5 billion, playing 216 engagements in 77 cities for an unprecedented total of 36.5 years and over 14,500 performances to 31 million people – making it the most successful and continuously-touring show in US history. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Off-Broadway Theater Review: Between the Lines

Jake David Smith and Arielle Jacobs. Photo: Matt Murphy

Between the Lines
Book by Timothy Allen McDonald, based on the book by Jodi Picoult  and Samantha van Leer
Music and Lyrics by Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson
Directed by Jeff Calhoun
Choreographed by Paul McGill
Music direction by Daniel Green
Tony Kiser Theater
Through Sept. 11. 2022

By Lauren Yarger
Sometimes stories have happy endings. Sometimes they just make you feel happy. Between the Lines, a new musical based on the book by Judi Picoult and her daughter, Samantha van Leer, is an example of both and is a refreshing, engaging theater experience.

The story combines fantasy, fairytales and reality in a fun tale of awkward teen Deliliah (Arielle Jacobs) trying to find her place in the world after her parents split. She gets off on the wrong foot with her new high school's social queen, Allie McAndres (Hillary Fisher), -- or should I say knee? Deliliah accidently breaks her classmate's knee with a baseball bat. OK, I was laughing already before we met Allie's dumb jock boyfriend, Ryan (a very funny Will Burton). Delilah's mom, Grace (Julia Murney), who is coping with being dumped, paying the bills and trying to go back to school, has little time to notice how difficult things are for her daughter too.

Ms. Winx (Vicki Lewis) introduces Delilah to a special book. "Between the Lines," of which there is only one copy, self published. The school librarian has escaped into the pages of books herself and Composers and Lyricists Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson, making their New York debut, give Lewis a humorous number, "Mr. Darcy and Me" to let Delilah know it's OK that she is falling for one of the characters in the fairytale she carries around with her everywhere.

He is Prince Oliver (a perfectly cast and charmingly voiced Jake David Smith), but Delilah's secret is that he literally is stepping out of the pages of the book to chat with her. In a delightful switch to make believe, Director Jeff Calhoun, Lighting Designer Jason Lyons and Choreographer Paul McGill bring the book to life as Prince Oliver enters Delilah's world, then later again in act two, when she enters the pages of his story. Lyons does wonders with some action behind scrim and McGill shines with having Oliver's movements mimic Delilah's actions with the book. Scenic Designer Tobin Ost borders both worlds with shelves and shelves of books.

In the book, Allie is Oliver's princess, but there isn't any real love between them. Ryan is in love with her in this world too, but has been turned into a dog called Frump. A number of the other characters have dual roles and other storylines in the parallel world as well.  Will Delilah and Oliver find a way to be together? Will Delilah and her mom learn to communicate? Will Allie get her comeuppance and will Ryan ever stop making us laugh with his puzzled, vacant looks?

The answers are worth buying a ticket to discover. The story, adapted by Timothy Allen McDonald, and the music (orchestrations and arrangements by Gregory Rassen and music direction by Daniel Green) is engaging and appeals to young and old alike. At intermission, I was astonished at how much had happened in such a short time (the whole show runs about two hours and 20 minutes with 24 songs). It offers a wonderfully well developed female protagonist as well as a lot of other good female roles. 

One criticism is the heavy-handed lecturing we get from Delilah's friend, Jules (Wren Rivera), who identifies as non-binary. We get it and the bullying reaction of the classmates. We don't need it explained in a preachy manner. We are supposed to be able to read between the lines, right? Another knit pick is noise from backstage as actors change position or props are moved.

Between the Lines is clever, fun and engaging. The magic is ephemeral, however, as the run at the Tony Kiser Theater, 305 W. 43rd St., is limited through Sept. 11.

Additional casting:

Jerusha Cavazos, John Rapson, Sean Stack 

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:

  • God's name taken in vain.
  • Non-binary character
  • Homosexual references
Notes:
Though this plays at the Kiser, it is not a Second Stage production.

Off-Broadway Theater Review: HYPROV: Improv Under Hypnosis


(Asad Mecci and Colin Mochrie ©Aaron Cobb)

HYPROV

Created and Performed by Colin Mochrie and Asad Mecci
Directed by Stan Zimmerman
Original Music by Rufus Wainwright
Music Director John Hilsen
Daryl Roth Theatre
Through Oct. 30, 2022

By Lauren Yarger
What do you get when you mix the king of improv with some hypnotized volunteers? 

It is HYPROV, a new Off-Broadway show featuring Colin Mochrie (TV's “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”) and Hypnotist Asad Mecci.

If you ever have caught Mochrie on "Whose Line" with colleague improv master Ryan Styles, you know there isn't more entertaining to be found on TV. His name on the billing alone brought me to the downtown Daryl Roth Theatre, though I tend to be a sceptic where hypnosis is a character. I just have a hard time believing that people can be so open to suggestion that they are unaware of the zany things they do on stage....

In this show, created by the stars with Jeff Andrews, and with Creative Consultation from Bob Martin, 20 volunteers from the audience are invited up to the stage. Mecci, through a series of exercises, eventually eliminates all but four or five of those who are the most receptive to hypnosis to improv with Mochrie, who says working with blank-faced subjects is one of the most scary things he has done in his career.

A number of routines are used, not all of them every night. They include the ones I saw:
  • Can’t find your belly button: Hyprovisers search around the stage as they can’t find their belly button
  • Proposal: One Hyproviser falls madly in love with Colin and must propose.
  • Follow the ball: Asad and Colin play with an imaginary ball.
  • Hybrid Pet: Family members mourn the loss of their talented family pet. Gerald, the baseball-playing hybrid giraffe/hippopotamus who met his untimely end by means of a butter church was pretty funny.
  • Duet: Colin and a Hyproviser perform a musical duet, reuniting after 20 years apart. Note: Music Director John Hilsen ends up being an improv star himself
  • It’s Your Life: Colin interviews a celebrity from the audience and the Hyprovisers portray important people from their past.
Specifics elements to be used in the scenarios are shouted out prior by the audience members or include twists added by Mecci. Each night is unique and different scenarios are used. Most of the people in the audience the night I attended expressed an interest in coming again. That is a positive thing from a young, diverse group that enthusiastically enjoyed the show.

The 100-minute, no intermission show was entertaining, but I couldn't help think that the participants didn't need to be hypnotized. Mochrie is a master of his craft. Fully awake volunteers could have been just as fun (and you know, it's just hard to believe that after a few words from Mecci those folks were unaware of their surroundings....). But in an effort to be fair, I'll let Mecci give you his rationale:

“When a person is hypnotized, they no longer reflect on their behavior,” notes Mecci. “Hypnosis removes the filters and walls they’ve built up and allows them to be open to saying yes and being imaginative. That’s why they can do remarkable things on stage. You never know which hypnotized volunteer is going to become the next star of the show. It’s what makes the show so much fun - ordinary people doing extraordinary things!”

Additional credits:
Jo Winiarski (scenic design), Jeff Croiter (lighting design), Walter Trarbach (sound design).

When not performing on stage, Mecci works with major corporations as an expert consultant in the areas of motivation, advanced communication and stress management. He also coaches Olympic athletes in the area of mental strength and peak performance.

HYPROV mesmerizes and entertains at the Daryl Roth Theatre, 101 East 15th Street at Union Square East for a 12-week limited engagement. Shows are Wednesdays through Sundays at 7 pm with an additional show on Saturdays at 10 pm.  Tickets start at $55 and are available at www.hyprov.com or by calling (212) 239-6200.

FAMILY-FREINDLY FACTORS:
  • The show is recommended for ages 12+.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Broadway Theater Review: Into the Woods

Aymee Garcia, Cole Thompson, Kennedy Kanagawa
Photo: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade
Into the Woods
By James Lapine
Music by Stephen Sondheim
Directed by Lear deBessonet
Music Direction by Rob Berman
Choreography by Lorin Latarro
St. James Theatre

By Lauren Yarger
An all-star cast and a classic musical combine for a terrific time at the theater at Into the Woods, playing the Great White Way following an acclaimed Off-Broadway run at City Center's Encores.

This is the first Broadway stop for the Sonheim Musical, with a book by James Lapine, in more than 20 years. It was worth the wait. 

The magical story brings together beloved fairytale characters in a twisted story about being careful what you wish for and figuring out what you are willing to do to keep what you get when your wish is granted.

This delightful production, skillfully helmed by Lear deBessonet, is a treat for the ears and eyes.

Brian D'arcy James and Sara Bareilles are the baker and his wife who desperately wish for a child. Patina Miller is the scary witch who will help them if they will get her three things she wants. Along the way, they meet up with Cinderella (Phillipa Soo) and her family (Nancy Opel, Ta'nika Gibson, Albert Guerzon and Brooke Ishibashi), two princes (Gavin Creel and Joshua Henry), Jack of Beanstalk fame (Cole Thompson), his mother (Aymee Garcia) and their cow, Milky White (puppeteer Kennedy Kanagawa) as well as Little Red Riding Hood (Julia Lester making a standout Broadway debut) and a bunch of other characters (David Patrick Kelly, David Turner and Alysia Velez round out the featured cast).

Soon, everyone needs to put aside his own issues to unite against a terrible giant (voiced by Annie Golden, who also plays Granny and Cinderella's mother). 

Take a look again at that cast list and you will see some of the best voices on Broadway listed. Hearing "Agony," "It Takes Two," "No one is Alone." and "Children Will Listen" have never sounded better. Miller is the best witch I ever have seen -- the first that gives her some character and depth. Look for a Tony nomination here.

The sets, masterfully designed by David Rockwell, are simple and allow the focus to be on the rich lyrics, beautiful music and subtle choreography by Lorin Latarro. This, much like The Music Man packing them in for a feel-good musical on a Broadway stage, has an enthusiastic audience and has extended its run at the St. James Theatre, 246 W 44th St., NYC through Oct. 16. The cast embraces the silliness and Director deBessonet trusts that the audience is smart enough to follow the more serious messages contained in the tale. When Cinderella's stepmother asks when things will return to normal, current events some quickly to mind.

Cast changes are coming, so check the show's website for the most up-to-date information.

Notes: 
Sara Bareilles, Brian d’Arcy James, and Phillipa Soo continue through Sept. 4.
Stephanie J. Block, Sebastian Arcelus, real-life wife and husband, join as the Baker’s Wife and the Baker, respectively, on Sept. 6. Also joining the company on Sept. will be Krysta Rodriguez as Cinderella, Katy Geraghty as Little Red Ridinghood and Jim Stanek as the Steward.

Montego Glover will share the role of The Witch with Miller, who will continue playing The Witch for performances on Fridays through Sundays, with Glover taking over the role Tuesdays through Thursdays. 

Gavin Creel and Joshua Henry will continue as the Wolf/Cinderella’s Prince and Rapunzel’s Prince, respectively, though Andy Karl will step into the role of the Wolf/Cinderella’s Prince from Sept. 6- 15, due to a prior commitment for Creel. Creel will return to the production on Sept. 16. Beginning on Sept.27, Ann Harada will play the role of Jack’s Mother, which she originated in the City Center Encores! production.

Additional casting:
Delphi Borich, Felicia Curry, Jason Forbach, Alex Joseph Grayson, Paul Kreppel, Mary Kate Moore, Cameron Johnson, Diane Phelan, Lucia Spina -- ensemble.

Additional credits:
Andrea Hood (Costume Design), Tyler Micoleau (Lighting Design), Scott Lehrer and Alex Neumann (Co-Sound Designers), James Ortiz (Puppet Design) and Cookie Jordan (Hair, Wigs and Makeup Design).

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:
  • Although this is a fairytale, the themes are dark and this show really would be for older kids. When schools license a production, they perform only the first act, which is lighter.














Broadway Theater Review: The Kite Runner

 

(Front row) Danish Farooqui, Amir Arison, Joe Joseph, (back row) Faran Tahir, Evan Zes,Houshang Touzie and Dariush Kashani. Photo: Joan Marcus

The Kite Runner

Adapted by Matthew Spangler from the novel by Khaled Hosseini’s
Directed by Giles Croft
Helen Hayes Theatre

By Lauren Yarger
The Kite Runner, a haunting tale of one man's self journey of redemption, flies onto to the New York stage  after a successful run in London's West End. 

Matthew Spangler adapts Khaled Hosseini’s international best-seller about two boys who become friends despite being from two different social classes in war-torn Afghanistan and the long-term effects on their lives when one fails to honor that friendship.

Hassan (Eric Sirakian) is the son of Ali (Evan Zes), a servant to well-born Baba (an excellent Farah Tahir). Hassan and Baba's son, Amir  (Amir Arison), both motherless, find they have some things in common despite their class differences and become fast friends. Hassan becomes a kite runner -- the person who finds where a kite being flown in competitions lands -- and Amir's eventual winning of the competition finally earns him some approval in the disapproving eyes of his harsh father. The victory comes with a great loss, however, as Amir fails to help Hassan when he falls into the hands of sadistic Assef (Amir Malaklou) who, with the help of his gang, rape the boy.

Amir's guilt over witnessing the crime without interfering causes him to withdraw from his friendship with the ever-loyal Hassan who doesn't understand what he has done to displease his friend. He even claims Hassan has stolen from him to have him and his father sent from the household. Eventually war forces Baba and Amir to flee and start a new life in California. 

There, Amir marries Soraya (Azita Ghanizada) and tries to pursue his career as a writer. Years later, he learns that Hassan is dead and that his former friend's son, Sohrab (also played by Sirakian), is in an Afghan orphanage, being used by sex traffickers. An old family friend, Rahim Khan (Dariush Kashani), and Soraya plead with the reluctant Amir to return to Kabul to save the boy.

Now, I know most of you reading this probably loved the book, as most people did. I tried, but couldn't stay interested enough to read very far. After watching this play, I think I realize why. The story should not be Amir's. He is a really not a nice, or sympathetic, person who makes selfish, bad choices all of his life. One moment of realization late in the game to me does not make this a story of redemption worth sitting through two and half hours -- or 400 pages. I would so much rather have Hassan tell the story. We feel for him. We want to understand how he feels about being a second-class citizen, the joy he must have felt at finding a brother/friend in Amir and how he copes with Amir's rejection and betrayal. Having Amir tell the story and giving this character more importance, adds insult to injury. 

The story is skillfully directed by Giles Croft and the mood is created by Barney George (Scenic and Costume Design), Charles Balfour (Lighting Design), Drew Baumohl (Sound Design), William Simpson (Projection Design), though the kite flying could have been more imaginative.

Music by Jonathan Girling opens the story (for a bit too long) and underscores dialogue with cultural instruments. 

I left the theater wondering why we still are seeing stories written by men, directed by men about men and how they feel on Broadway stages in an age when we are supposed to be making an effort to include underrepresented voices. There are many plays written by women about issues women deal with every day, including rape. 

Additional credits:

Kitty Winter (Movement Director), Humaira Ghilzai (Cultural Advisor and Script Consultant), Damian Sandys (Associate Director).

Additional casting:

Mazin Akar, Barzin Akhavan, Demosthenes Chrysan, Azita Ghanizada, Danish Farooqui, Joe Joseph, Déa Julien, Dariush Kashani, Beejan Land, Amir Malaklou, Christine Mirzayan, Haris Pervaiz, Alex Purcell, Eric Sirakian, Houshang Touzie, and Evan Zes. Salar Nader plays the tabla, a percussion instrument.

The Kite Runner plays at the Hayes Theater, 240 W. 44th St., NYC. https://thekiterunnerbroadway.com/


FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:

  • Language
  • Sexual dialogue
  • Rape (graphically described, but not shown)
  • God's name taken in vain
  • Muslim prayer and wedding ceremony
  • Masks are required for Wednesday matinee and Friday evening performances. At other performances, masks are optional inside the theater. For more specific information go to: https://2st.com/visit
  • the theater was freezing! Bring a sweater.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

2022 Outer Critics Circle Awards Announced


SIX: Abby Mueller (Jane Seymour), Samantha Pauly (Katherine Howard), Adrianna Hicks (Catherine of Aragon), Andrea Macasaet (Anne Boleyn), Brittney Mack (Anna of Cleves) and Anna Uzele (Catherine Parr). Photo: Joan Marcus

The Lehman Trilogy: Adrian Lester, Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley; photo by Julieta Cervantes

Victoria Clark as Kimberly Akimbo. Photo: Ahron R. Foster

Lehman Trilogy, Six, Kimberly Akimbo Lead Awards

The Outer Critics Circle (OCC), the official organization of writers on New York theatre for out-of-town newspapers and national publications, is pleased to announce the winners of the 71st Annual Outer Critics Circle Awards, honoring the 2021-2022 Broadway and Off-Broadway season. 

The Broadway play The Lehman Trilogy leads the pack with six wins, including Outstanding New Broadway Play, followed by Kimberly Akimbo which earned four awards including Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical. The Marjorie Gunner Award for Outstanding New Broadway Musical is one of three honors awarded to Six, and taking home the prizes for Outstanding Revival of a Musical and Outstanding Revival of a Play are Company and Take Me Out, respectively. The annual John Gassner Award — for a new American play, preferably by a new playwright — is awarded to Sanaz Toossi for English.

Returning to an in-person ceremony this spring after the 2020 virtual honors, the 2022 Outer Critics Circle Award winners will be honored on Thursday, May 26, 2022 at the Bruno Walter Auditorium of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

 

Special Achievement Awards will be presented to How I Learned to Drive stars Johanna Day, David Morse, and Mary-Louise Parker, as well as Lackawanna Blues star Ruben Santiago-Hudson, to mark their outstanding returns to roles they originated two decades ago. Additionally, the Outer Critics Circle presents commendations to two groups whose contributions to the 2021-22 season were immeasurable: the Standbys, Understudies, and Swings, as well as the Covid-19 Safety Officers.

 

The 2021-2022 Outer Critics Circle Award Winners

 

The Marjorie Gunner Award for Outstanding New Broadway Musical

MJ the Musical

Mr. Saturday Night

Mrs. Doubtfire

Paradise Square

Six ***WINNER***

 

Outstanding New Broadway Play

Birthday Candles

Clyde's

Skeleton Crew

The Lehman Trilogy ***WINNER***

The Minutes

 

Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical

Black No More

Harmony

Intimate Apparel

Kimberly Akimbo ***WINNER***

Little Girl Blue

 

Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play

Morning Sun

On Sugarland

Prayer for the French Republic ***WINNER***

Sanctuary City

The Chinese Lady

 

John Gassner Award
(presented to a new American play, preferably by a new playwright)

Cullud Wattah by Erika Dickerson-Despenza

English by Sanaz Toossi ***WINNER***

Selling Kabul by Sylvia Khoury

Tambo and Bones by Dave Harris

Thoughts of a Colored Man by Keenan Scott II

 

Outstanding Revival of a Musical (Broadway or Off-Broadway)

Assassins

Caroline, or Change

Company ***WINNER***

The Music Man

The Streets of New York

 

Outstanding Revival of a Play (Broadway or Off-Broadway)

for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

How I Learned to Drive

Take Me Out ***WINNER***

A Touch of the Poet

Trouble in Mind

 

Outstanding Actor in a Musical

Justin Cooley, Kimberly Akimbo

Myles Frost, MJ the Musical

Rob McClure, Mrs. Doubtfire

Jaquel Spivey, A Strange Loop ***WINNER***

Chip Zien, Harmony

 

Outstanding Actress in a Musical

Kearstin Piper Brown, Intimate Apparel

Victoria Clark, Kimberly Akimbo ***WINNER***

Sharon D Clarke, Caroline, or Change

Carmen Cusack, Flying Over Sunset

Joaquina Kalukango, Paradise Square

 

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical

Quentin Earl Darrington, MJ the Musical

Matt Doyle, Company ***WINNER***

Steven Pasquale, Assassins

A.J. Shively, Paradise Square

Will Swenson, Assassins

 

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical

Shoshana Bean, Mr. Saturday Night

Jenn Colella, Suffs
Judy Kuhn, Assassins

Patti LuPone, Company ***WINNER***
Bonnie Milligan, Kimberly Akimbo

 

Outstanding Actor in a Play

Patrick J. Adams, Take Me Out

Simon Russell Beale, The Lehman Trilogy ***WINNER***

Adam Godley, The Lehman Trilogy

Adrian Lester, The Lehman Trilogy

Sam Rockwell, American Buffalo

 

Outstanding Actress in a Play

Betsy Aidem, Prayer for the French Republic

Stephanie Berry, On Sugarland

Edie Falco, Morning Sun

LaChanze, Trouble in Mind ***WINNER***
Debra Messing, Birthday Candles

 

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play

Chuck Cooper, Trouble in Mind

Brandon J. Dirden, Skeleton Crew

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Take Me Out ***WINNER***

Michael Oberholzer, Take Me Out

Austin Pendleton, The Minutes

 

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play

Chanté Adams, Skeleton Crew

Uzo Aduba, Clyde's ***WINNER***

Francis Benhamou, Prayer for the French Republic

Phylicia Rashad, Skeleton Crew

Nancy Robinette, Prayer for the French Republic

 

Outstanding Solo Performance

Alex Edelman, Just For Us

Jenn Murray, A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing

Arturo Luís Soria, Ni Mi Madre

Kristina Wong, Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord ***WINNER***

 

Outstanding Director of a Play

Camille A. Brown, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

Scott Ellis, Take Me Out

Sam Mendes, The Lehman Trilogy ***WINNER***

Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Skeleton Crew

Anna D. Shapiro, The Minutes

 

Outstanding Director of a Musical

Warren Carlyle, Harmony

Moisés Kaufman, Paradise Square

Jessica Stone, Kimberly Akimbo ***WINNER***

Christopher Wheeldon, MJ the Musical

Jerry Zaks, Mrs. Doubtfire

 

Outstanding Choreography

Camille A. Brown, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
Warren Carlyle, Harmony

Warren Carlyle, The Music Man

Bill T. Jones, Alex Sanchez, Garrett Coleman, and Jason Oremus, Paradise Square
Christopher Wheeldon and Rich + Tone Talauega, MJ the Musical ***WINNER***

 

Outstanding Book of a Musical

Billy Crystal, Lowell Ganz, and Babaloo Mandel, Mr. Saturday Night

Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell, Mrs. Doubtfire

David Lindsay-Abaire, Kimberly Akimbo ***WINNER***

Lynn Nottage, Intimate Apparel

Bruce Sussman, Harmony

 

Outstanding Score

Jason Howland, Nathan Tysen, and Masi Asare, Paradise Square

Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick, Mrs. Doubtfire

Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman, Harmony

Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, Six ***WINNER***

Jeanine Tesori and David Lindsay-Abaire, Kimberly Akimbo

 

Outstanding Orchestrations

John Clancy, Kimberly Akimbo

David Holcenberg and Jason Michael Webb, MJ the Musical

Greg Jarrett, Assassins

Jason Howland, Paradise Square ***WINNER***

Doug Walter, Harmony

 

Outstanding Scenic Design (Play or Musical)

Beowulf Boritt, Flying Over Sunset

Es Devlin, The Lehman Trilogy

Scott Pask, American Buffalo

Adam Rigg, The Skin of Our Teeth ***WINNER***

David Zinn, The Minutes

 

Outstanding Costume Design (Play or Musical)

Jane Greenwood, Plaza Suite

Santo Loquasto, The Music Man

Gabriella Slade, Six ***WINNER***

Emilio Sosa, Trouble in Mind

Catherine Zuber, Mrs. Doubtfire

 

Outstanding Lighting Design (Play or Musical)

Jon Clark, The Lehman Trilogy ***WINNER***

Natasha Katz, MJ the Musical

Bradley King, Flying Over Sunset

Brian MacDevitt, The Minutes

Jen Schreiver, Lackawanna Blues

 

Outstanding Sound Design (Play or Musical)

Nick Powell and Dominic Bilkey, The Lehman Trilogy ***WINNER***

André Pluess, The Minutes

Ben and Max Ringham, Blindness
Dan Moses Schreier, Harmony

Matt Stine and Sam Kusnetz, Assassins

 

Outstanding Video/Projection Design (Play or Musical)

59 Productions and Benjamin Pearcy, Flying Over Sunset

Stefania Bulbarella and Alex Basco Koch, Space Dogs

Shawn Duan, Letters of Suresh

Luke Halls, The Lehman Trilogy ***WINNER***

Jeff Sugg, Mr. Saturday Night

 

Special Achievement Awards are presented to:

  • Johanna Day, David Morse, Mary-Louise Parker, and Ruben Santiago-Hudson for reprising their outstanding performances in How I Learned to Drive and Lackawanna Blues two decades later. All had been eligible in previous seasons.

 

Outer Critics Circle Commendations are presented to:

  • The Standbys, Understudies, and Swings of the theatrical community who step up to perform, often on hours' notice, to keep their shows running.
  • To the Covid Safety Supervisors, Managers, and Compliance Officers who put themselves in harm's way eight times a week to keep the curtains up.

 A limited number of tickets may be available to the public. If you are interested in attending the May 26 ceremony, contact OuterCriticsCircleTKTS@gmail.com.

Gracewell Prodiuctions

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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.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2022 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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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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