Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Service Asks Blessings on Broadway Season, Celebrates 50th Anniversary of 'The Fantasticks'

James Barbour, left, following the service.
Broadway performers and theater lovers came together Monday night for the 14th annual Broadway Blessing service held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York.

Broadway actors James Barbour, Charles West and Anthony Newfield were among those performing during the interfaith service which also celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Fantasticks. Tom Jones, who wrote the book and lyrics for the show, and who directed and has starred in the acclaimed revival playing Off-Broadway at the Snapple Theater Center, attended the service (the show was one of our picks to see this summer.)

Officiating were the Rev. Canon Thomas Miller, canon for liturgy and the arts at St. John, the Right Rev. Andrew St. John, rector of the Church of the Transfiguration, and Rabbi Jill Hausman of The Actors' Temple, who also performed "A Simple Song" from Leonard Bernstein's Mass.

Actress Catherine Russell gave a reading, Project Dance, recipient of the 2009 "The Lights Are Bright on Broadway" award presented by Masterwork Productions, performed to "His Eye is on the Sparrow." The Broadway Blessing Choir and Bruce Neswick, cathedral organist, offered a number of tunes including medleys from The Fantasticks. West, who has appeared in the 50th anniversary production of the show, sang "Try to Remember."
Newfield performed a scene from To Kill a Mockingbird, and Barbour, accompanied by Jeremy Roberts, sang "The Measure of a Man" from Frank Wildhorn's musical Rudolf. In addition, composer Carol Hall performed a song she had written, inspired in part by speaker Lynn Redgrave's stirring message form last year's Broadway Blessing and to whom this year's service was dedicated.
The evening is produced under the direction of religion and theater writer Retta Blaney (center, above). Her blog, "Life Upon the Sacred Stage," can be found here.
-- Lauren Yarger

Participants mingle at a post-service reception.

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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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