Friday, March 27, 2009

Training for Students in the Arts

Our friend, actor and writer Rich Swingle, directs the theater program at Indiana's MasterWorks Festival, a four-week classical performing arts training program for Christian students of music, dance and theater ages 16-26 (no, they're not affiliated with us at Masterwork Productions -- we both just have great taste in names.)

Early registration deadline is March 31. Here are some thoughts from Rich on the upcoming festival June 21 to July 19. Visit for information and to register.

After having so much fun last year setting Tartuffe in the 1960's, John Kirby turned to me at lunch and said, "So what are we doing next?"

We decided to co-direct Thorton Wilder's Our Town, and it couldn't have been a more timely choice. Over 70 years ago the play took people back to a simpler time. How much more do we need that today?

This is the fifth season that I've directed the theatre program of The MasterWorks Festival, an extraordinary time of immersion in the arts through a Christian world view. In addition to theatre, world class artists teach in orchestra, dance, guitar, piano and intensified studies programs from June 15 through July 19.

This will be John's fourth year at MasterWorks. Considered one of the greatest acting coaches in Hollywood, John has worked around the world on films such as Déjà Vu, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Count of Monte Cristo. He coached many great actors on The Word of Promise and was asked back to direct the youth version, Word of Promise Next Generation with Sean Astin and Corbin Bleu leading a host of young stars.

Bev Holloway will return for our final performances. She's been a casting director on 36 major projects, including Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, An American Carol, The Ultimate Gift and eight projects headed for theatres in the next few years. Last year she took one of our students as an intern!

We're pleased to have our first MasterWorks Theatre alum return as a master class instructor: Kohli (Hessler) Calhoun will be working with us as a dialect coach. She's been teaching for New York University's drama department, The Stella Adler Studio and The Lee Strasberg Institute.

Mac Nelson, who has performed alongside Hollywood legends such as Jerry Lewis and Liz Taylor will be joining us shortly after the launch of his newest book Memoirs of a Hollywood Adventure.

Harvey Johnson, artistic director of Doma Productions will return, as will Patricia Mauceri (One Life to Live) and Susan Somerville Brown (CATS on Broadway), who will come from directing her third production of the year.

I have a deep sense that this will be a very special year for the theatre department at MasterWorks, as we deepen relationships built over the years and welcome newcomers to this very special process of exploring our gifts the Lord has given us with Him at the center.

Soli Deo Glori,
Rich Swingle

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The Blind Side

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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 ( and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for

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

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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