Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Learning From Chicago's Goodman Theatre

By Guest Blogger Nancy Beach
I went to see the first play of the season at Chicago's Goodman Theatre Wednesday night with a group of friends. Turn of the Century is a brand new musical crafted by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, the team who created the wildly successful hit, Jersey Boys. Tommy Tune was the director, and the cast features film and stage actor Jeff Daniels. So this sounds like a theatrical dream team, especially when combined with the outstanding design work which always makes a visit to the Goodman worth the price of a ticket.
And yet...with all that talent and money, the show still needs a lot of work. It was a highly creative storyline, woven with outstanding music from the past century. But our group was not raving about how captivated we were. In fact, what we talked about most was the performance of the lead actress, Rachel York, who truly knocked our socks off as a singer. But if this show is intended to go next to Broadway, I would guess some rewrites will be required.

Here is my point for those of us who create Sunday morning experiences using the arts. No matter how much time, talent, and prayer we invest in our work, we don't get to hit the grand slam every time. It seems to be the nature of artistic endeavors - some works astound us with how powerful and beautiful and moving they turn out to be. Other times, with the same amount of effort, we come up feeling a little flat and disappointed. When I see this phenomenon in professional theatre and film, I do take an odd sort of comfort in the comparison to the highs and lows of weekly ministry. Some Sundays or Christmases or Easters I am overly optimistic about how transcendent a service could be...and then surprised by the apparent lack of enthusiasm I see in the congregation. Other times, my surprise goes the other way and I am delighted by a glorious moment I did not predict or plan for.

So we just keep showing up, giving it the best we have, praying for the anointing of the Spirit, and never knowing for sure what the results will be. We can either be frustrated by the apparent randomness of it all, or choose to be faithful and thankful no matter what the outcome. I hope to keep making the second choice...creating, praying, trusting, and leaving the outcome to God.

Nancy Beach is executive vice president for the Arts at the Willow Creek Association. Read her arts blog at http://www.towardwonder.com/bloghome.asp

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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/.

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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