Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Truth About Celebrity: Someone is Always Watching

Are you a celebrity? In the performing arts world, that's usually an easy question to answer. If you have fans paying to come see you perform or to buy your CDs, videos, etc., you're probably a celebrity. In the Christian performing arts world, it's a little harder to define and you might be a celebrity without even knowing it. (Tom Curley's recent article "I'm With the Worship Team" gives great insight into how the band model can influence worship teams and how there needs to be a distinction between privilege and service. (Read the article at http://www.verticalmusic.com.)

If you're in the arts, there is one thing you can be sure of, whether you've attained "celebrity" status or not: people are watching you and will be influenced by your example.

I worked for years in the secular performing arts world and enjoyed meeting and working with many famous people. Overall, I formed the opinion that, with a few exceptions, the most famous stars were the nicest and most considerate and those who wanted to be stars (the ones who were just starting out or just beginning to get a taste of fame) were the most demanding and hardest to handle. One singer, who believe me, you never have heard of, seemed to think I was her personal slave and walked around bellowing "hot water, hot water!" which was her command that I should bring her tea (and stir it for her) so her marvelous (at least in her opinion) voice could be nurtured.

When you're around celebrity regularly, it loses its ability to awe you because you come to realize that these people, no matter how famous or adored, still are people. It really comes down to their character--what kind of people are they and how do they conduct themselves?

I recently read an article in a national periodical by a famous artist. He and his wife both have achieved fame in the secular and Christian markets. I was excited to see him featured so prominently in a secular publication, hoping he would have an opportunity to share his faith with fans who might not hear it anywhere else. Instead I was a rather disappointed as he justified beginning his relationship with his current wife while both still were married to former spouses by saying that "when two people click, there's not much you can do about it."

I don't know the details of their relationships and don't presume to judge them for divorcing, but I do have a problem with telling people that it's OK to get involved with someone else while you're married because God himself tells us that's wrong and if you feel yourself becoming attracted to someone who is married, you certainly can and should do something about it. But people who don't know the Lord will read that and take it as permission from a Christian they admire that they can pursue adulterous relationships. What a lost opportunity to use celebrity for God's glory.

One exception to my "don't get excited any more" about celebrities is actor John Cullum. I have loved his rich baritone voice since I first saw him in "Shenandoah" on Broadway more years ago than I'd care to admit. I recently saw him in "110 in the Shade" and literally swooned (well, as much as it is possible for a middle-aged married woman to swoon). Let's just say he's the only person I ever have waited at the stage door for, and it was well worth the experience. During a longer run of a musical in which he starred, Mr. Cullum consistently stepped out of the stage door after every performance and greeted fans, signed autographs, chatted with mothers telling tales of their sons who want to be Broadway stars and in general, was just a very nice man. I've known others, with less stature and who haven't had people waiting at the stage door for half the number of years Mr. Cullum has, who blow by their fans without even a quick hello.

Again, it comes down to character and if you're a Christian in that situation, it comes down to Christ's character too, because your actions reflect on Him and your ability to witness through Him.

If you lead worship, do you greet people after the service and take an opportunity to get to know them? Or do you brush past saying "I'm with the band?" I was told about one church who hired a new worship pastor and Washington, DC itself couldn't hold a candle to the politics that went on as people lobbied to be on the worship team. They showered him with gifts, dinners and compliments because being on the worship team holds such prestigious celebrity at this church.

Do you enjoy this kind of celebrity in your church? If so, do you encourage a lobbying effort of the best of the best to win your favor or do you use it for God's glory? Take time to get to know the people who look up to you; find out what gifts they have to offer; pray about how you can develop those gifts and build their relationship with Christ. You'll set the example and it will be seen. Because remember, someone is always watching.

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Daily Inspiration

The Blind Side

Read about the real life mom from "The Blind Side."

Lifeway: http://www.lifeway.com/article/?id=169816

Guideposts: http://www.guideposts.com/story/sandra-bullock-blind-side-football?page=0,1

Read Matt Mungle's review of the movie at http://www.buddyhollywood.com/.

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Lauren Yarger, 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 2000 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.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

In 2008 she was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater with a Christian perspective for Reflections in the Light (http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/) and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com

She also reviews books for Publisher's Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She formerly was Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp, a national theater web site bsed in New York and a reviewer for American Theater Web.

She also served as Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

She is a freelance writer and member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The CT Critics Circle.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger lives with her husband in West Granby, CT and has two adult children.

Copyright Notice

All contents copyright © Lauren Yarger 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact masterworkproductions@yahoo.com.

Scripture from THE MESSAGE Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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