Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas!

We are on vacation until Jan. 8. Wishing all of our readers a blessed Christmas, the joys of the holiday season and a very happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dance Ministry Brings Nativity Story to Manhattan

Nativity: Birth of a King features music, dance and spectacle will bring themessage of Christmas to the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College at the northern tip of  Broadway.

Meditating profoundly on the birth of Christ, the joyous drama moves audiences with an original portrayal of the central event of Christian history. Produced by New Rochelle-based Dance Ministry Institute (DMI) and featuring original choreography by DMI founding director Robert Evans, Nativity pays tribute to the miracle of the incarnation, the universal power of faith and the explosive talent of an inspired local dance ministry.
Since 2001 the primary mission of DMI has been to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and assist in reclaiming the arts back to the Kingdom of God,” Evans. said “Bringing our Christmas show to the heart of the Theater District is a blessing and the culmination of a dream.”
 
Evans’s choreographic works have ministered to people throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean over the last two decades, including the Bahamas Faith Ministries (Nassau, Bahamas); Christian Cultural Center (Brooklyn, New York); World Changers Church International (College Park, GA); and The Potter’s House (Dallas, Texas). A native of St. Louis, his dance ministry roots began with the Harlem Tabernacle Dance Ministry (Harlem, NY) where he served as the assistant director from 1991-2001.
 
Information: Lynch Theater at John Jay College, 524 West 59th St. (between 10th and 11th avenues), NYC. Performances will be held on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 4 and 8 pm and Sunday, Dec. 16 at 4 pm. Tickets for this limited engagement start at $40 and can be purchased online at www.thedmiexperience.com.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Book Note: The Sower, by Franklin Graham

Releasing today.
The Sower: Follow in His Steps
By Franklin Graham

From the publisher:
Throughout history, Jesus' parable of the sower has served as a beautiful word picture of the Christian life. And in modern times, no one has communicated this message more fervently than Billy Graham. His son Franklin is now carrying the torch of this vital message and has created a poignant, 31-day devotional to remind Christians what our purpose is in this life.  This book gives readers step-by-step instruction and daily inspiration for following in Jesus' footsteps.

For more information and to purchase the book, click here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Book Notes: Whatever by Allia Zobel Nolan

Whatever
By Allia Zobel Nolan

'Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.'
—Philippians 4:8

Zobel Nolan takes inspiration for "Whatever: A 90-Day Devotional for Livin' the True, Noble, and Totally Excellent life" (Zondervan, 2012) from Paul's words in Philippians. The casual tone of the title will appeal to tweens, but there is some very focused advice within.

The author uses each of the scriptural "whatevers" to head a section of devotionals in the book. Each devotional draws the reader in with relevant language and thoughts, then offers a new way of thinking about things important to tweens.

Thinking about what to wear? Consider whether the outfit makes you a boy magnet or simply looks attractive. Tempted to gossip at school? Consider Carrie, who lost all of her friends by badmouthing someone who beats her out for a part in the drama club. Having trouble sticking to your values in the face of peer pressure? Look at a specific example of how Jesus dealt with it.

The devotional could be read in chronological order for quiet time, or for group study. It also conveniently can be a handy reference by topic for quick help when situations arise -- and it seems that almost anything that might make a tween pause and wonder what God might have to say about it is covered in this collection of wisdom.

Further, each devotion is preceded by a scripture verse, then followed by subsections:
-- Food for Thought, a two-sentence wrap-up
-- Second Thoughts, a quick piece of advice
-- Divine Thoughts, a prayer

Readers will come away with sound, scripturally grounded direction that will help them grow closer to God, change their lives in a positive way and get a better understanding of their purpose in life.

Zobel Nolan will be signing the book here:

When: October 13, 2012
Time: from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m.
Where: Fairfield U. Book Store
1499 Post Road, Fairfield, CT
Phone 203-255-7756
When: October 20, 2012
Time: from 10:30 to 3:30 (Reading at 11:00)
Where: Morningstar Books, 72 Newtown Road
Danbury, CT 06810
Phone: (203) 791-1515
Refreshments and "Whatever bracelets" will be distributed while they last. For more information about Zobel Nolan and her many other books, visit www.AlliaWrites.com.
-- Lauren Yarger
(Note: Allia is a friend who lives her i n Connecticut. A free copy of her book was provided by the publisher.)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Gift of Dance

A DANCE DEVOTION OF SORTS...
By Cheryl Cutlip
 
Many of us work to achieve a high level of discipline in a certain area. Let’s take dance for example. Some dance daily to put to work the specific technical skills and design of dance. And, we’ve done this for years and years and years.  
 
Though we understand the work it takes to dance well we treat spirituality as some sort of hall pass based solely on feelings.

If I applied this to dance it would mean that if I feel that I am a dancer, I am a dancer. If I watch dance, I am a dancer. If I read about dance, I am a dancer. We know that’s untrue. And yet we apply this concept to God and things of the Spirit. If I feel spiritual, I am spiritual. If I watch spiritual people, I am spiritual. If I read about spirituality, I am spiritual.

Why?

 My guess is that because we are all under common GRACE we recognize that God is free and his love towards us is also free. We could say that dance is free. However, as I approach the barre, focus on plie, get to center floor, and then eventually move across the room…I become a “learner” of dance. It is free, but I get to experience dance as I put myself into the form of dance.

The same is true with the Spirit of God. When I approach His Word, love my brothers/sisters, do what His Word instructs, and eventually dwell in His very presence, I become a “learner” of God. Spiritual life is free, but I get to experience it as I put myself into the form of His likeness.

 The best things in life really are free. However, let’s not take the ultimate free gift for granted. Let’s experience this free gift and offer it to others through our lives. Let’s dance.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Zondervan, Thomas Nelson Under HarperCollins Umbrella

HarperCollins Publishers today announced Mark Schoenwald has been appointed President and CEO of its new Christian publishing division. This expanded division is comprised of Zondervan and the newly acquired Thomas Nelson. Each will continue to publish its respective brands and maintain its unique editorial focus. Schoenwald will report to Brian Murray, President and CEO of HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide, and will serve on the HarperCollins executive committee. Scott Macdonald will leave his position as President and CEO of Zondervan and will serve in an advisory role.

“Mark is an experienced leader in the Christian publishing market, and we are thrilled to have him at the helm of our newly expanded Christian division,” said Murray. “The new division adds further scale and balance to HarperCollins overall portfolio, and Mark will work closely with the leadership teams of HarperCollins, Thomas Nelson and Zondervan to build on the individual strengths of each company.”

“I am grateful to Scott for his leadership and professionalism during his tenure with Zondervan. He has achieved everything I asked him to achieve at Zondervan during a most challenging time in the company’s history,” Murray continued.

Schoenwald has been with Thomas Nelson since 2004 when he joined as Chief Sales Officer. In 2009, he was promoted to president of the company and in 2011 named CEO. Under Schoenwald’s leadership, Thomas Nelson has seen both double digit revenue and operating income growth, as well as had several titles make the “New York Times” Bestsellers list, including Heaven is for Real and Jesus Calling. Prior to joining Thomas Nelson he served as President of several prestigious home d├ęcor, garden and gift companies. He began his career at Lenox Brands, serving in various sales, marketing and operations positions.

“I feel blessed to have the opportunity to lead the Christian publishing division for HarperCollins Publishers,” said Schoenwald. “I am fortunate to move into this role with the benefit of a strong foundation to build on, coupled with many talented people on both teams. I anticipate a smooth transition as we begin to work together, optimizing all strengths to create an even more successful publishing program for these two distinct brands which, combined, have 300 years of publishing experience and history.”

Schoenwald will remain based in Nashville, Tenn., and will spend part of his time in Grand Rapids, Mich., where Zondervan will continue to operate from its current location. The two companies have different, though complementary, missions and both will continue to acquire and publish books specific to those missions, competing as they have in the past, but collaborating where appropriate.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Notes: Michael Vey 2: Rise of the Elgen


Teens, parents, teachers and community leaders concerned with the dark and violent content in today's popular young adult novels can find an alternative in the second installment of the Michael Vey series by Richard Paul Evans ("The Christmas Box"): "Michael Vey 2: The Rise of the Elgen."  

Last year, the first book of the Michael Vey series was an overwhelming success, reaching #1 on NY Times Bestseller List (Teen Fiction).
 
ABOUT THE BOOK

Michael was born with special electrical powers—and he’s not the only one. His friend Taylor has them too, and so do other kids around the world. With Michael’s friend Ostin, a techno-genius, they form the Electroclan, an alliance meant to protect them from a powerful group, the growing Order of Elgen, who are out to destroy them. The leader of the Elgen, Dr. Hatch, has kidnapped Michael’s mother, and time is running out.

After narrowly escaping an Elgen trap, Ostin’s discovery of bizarre “rat fires” in South America leads the gang to the jungles of Peru, where the Electroclan meets new, powerful foes and faces their greatest challenge yet as Michael learns the extent of the Elgen’s rise in power—and the truth of their plan to “restructure” the world. 

Evans is the winner of the American Mothers Book Award, two first place Storytelling World Awards for his children’s books, the Romantic Times Best Women’s Novel of the Year Award, and two Wilber Awards for Fiction.  Evans received the Washington Times Humanitarian of the Century Award and the Volunteers of America National Empathy Award for his work helping abused children.

WEBSITE: Visit the official site to watch the trailer, sign up for updates and download a discussion guide at: http://www.michaelvey.com BUY THE BOOK: Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book Review: As One Devil to Another by Richard Platt

Playing Devil's Advocate
By Lauren Yarger
Fans of Uncle Screwtape will enjoy a new incarnation of the devilishly clever correspondence between a demon and his prodigy in Richard Platt's "As One Devil to Another: A Fiendish Correspondence in the Tradition of C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters" (Tyndale, 2012).
Platt's debut novel casts Slashreap as the newly appointed Departmental Head for Young Tempter Development who coaches, through a series of letters, his star pupil and nephew, Scardagger.
Slashreap mentors the up-and-coming tempter of humans away from God and his truth (enhanced by drawings throughout the book by Larry Peterson.) While I wouldn't go so far to say that the language of  "As One Devil to Another" is indistinguishable from Lewis' classic (like Lewis expert Walter Hooper claims in his preface), I would recommend it simply for all of the great "truths" and sage advice contained in the text.
"We convince our clients that the way of the Adversary is too hard, or better still, impossible, without ever letting them to try it, " Slashreap writes. Some other points that have you nodding in understanding about how the enemy seeks to deceive:
"The real show is on the other side of death. You must keep this horrible truth from your client at all costs. Teach her that the only reality is under her pretty nose. Human blindness can be very advantageous to us."
"We have corrupted the institution (universities) at its very core, making it one of the most fertile grounds I know for planting, through competitive friction, the seeds that will grow into a delightful garden of envy, pride, anger and covetousness, for which university members such as your client will not even feel shame, because competition is as much a part of her environment as the air she breathes."

(Pharisaical) people can be so useful to the cause of Hell. They will spend their lives arguing about questions of high theology for which they have neither the intellectual equipment nor the education, meanwhile neglecting the obvious tasks before them."
"A small, but vocal minority proclaims that something which is manifestly preposterous is indisputably true -- that jewel-encrusted rhinoceros dung is Art, for example. Then they shout down opposing views and bludgeon them into silence, demonstrating that argument is useless against them, and personally attacking anyone remaining who dares to speak the truth. Art then becomes anything the artist -- or his agent or promoter -- says it is. Raise the price and it becomes Great Art. Raise t yet again and it is 'profpund."
These little gems are all throughout the correspondence and is a thought-provoking piece, just like its predecessor. This work reads more like a blunt commentary on modern culture and society than Lewis', where the commentary is more veiled in the revelation of how the devil controls our minds. This is entertaining and insightful in its own way.

You can purchase the book here. See a trailer here.
We have a certificate to give away for a free copy of this book. For a chance to win, send an email to info@masterworkproductions.org with "Book Giveaway" in the subject line by midnight, Wednesday, July 18, 2012. Include your name and address in the body of the email. All those entering will be included in a drawing for the certificate,  redeemable at participating Christian bookstores by Aug. 1, 2012. Winner will be notified by email on Thursday, July 19.

2012 Christy Award Winners

The Christy Awards were presented last night. Haven't received a press release with the winners and the site wasn't completely updated as of 10:15 am today, so I can't give you a list of the winners. Check back on their web site and eventually the complete listing should be there.
http://www.christyawards.com/ca_new/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&layout=blog&id=10&Itemid=56

Book Review: Enemies of the Heart by Andy Stanley

Recognizing the Symptoms of a 'Heart Attack'By Lauren Yarger
The re-release of "It Came from Within" as "Enemies of the Heart: Breaking free from the Four Emotions That Control You" (Multnomah, 2011) gave me a chance to read the 2006 work by Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church in the Atlanta area and author of other bestsellers such as "How Good is Good Enough," "When Work and Family Collide," and "The Principle of the Path," among others.

The book doesn't deliver any shocking information that will make you feel like you've just been jumpstarted by defibrillator paddles, but it does offer a solid "regimen" of healthy diet and exercise to fend off disease caused by four enemies of the heart: guilt, anger, greed and jealousy.

In examining how these destructive forces damage our hearts and cause the flow of our life to get clogged, Stanley offers practical advice and insight, like saying up front that whatever got us in the condition we're in didn't happen overnight and it won't be fixed that quickly either. Like a physician, he points out warning signs and offers some prespecription for getting healthy again.

If you're serious about wanting to make a change, this book is a good place to start. Broken into four distinct topical sections, the book also includes stury questions makingit a good selection for a growth group/life group.

You can download a chapter of the book at the publisher's website. You can purchase the book here. You can listen to Stanley's sermons here: http://www.northpoint.org/messages.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Book Notes: We All Married Idiots by Elaine W. Miller


Our friend Elaine Miller has released her latest book, We All Married Idiots: Three Things You Will Never Change About Your Marriage and Ten Things You Can," (Lighthouse Publishing, 2012) which is causing quite a sensation. Here's some information on the book, how to purchase it and how to contact Elaine if you are interested in having her speak at your church or women's event.
From the publisher:
Author Elaine W. Miller has just released her new book, We All Married Idiots: Three Things You Will Never Change About Your Marriage and Ten Things You Can, and readers all across the country are benefiting from her research and expertise.  “This book is for every husband and wife,” said Miller, a popular author and speaker known for sharing biblical insights with warmth, enthusiasm, and humor.
Based on Miller’s 20-plus-year ministry to married couples, as well as her own love story, We All Married Idiots tells amusing and poignant stories, teaches Biblical principles, and challenges the reader with marriage-changing application questions. Targeted for married couples, it can be used by small groups, couples, or for personal study. Since publication, Miller learned of a minister using We All Married Idiots for marriage counseling. Another quoted We All Married Idiots in a wedding ceremony.
Published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, the book is available as a print book at on-line book stores and your local book store and as an e-book on Kindle and Nook.  You can learn more about the author and her book by visiting her Website at www.SplashesofSerenity.com.

Book Review: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

A Really Large Book About a Larger-Than-Life Man
By Lauren Yarger
OK, I admit it. When it came to Eric Metaxas' best selling biography about Dietrich Bonhoeffer I was a real wimp. I definitely wanted to read the story of this amazing man, a Lutheran pastor and founder of the "confessing church," who ultimately was executed for his part in a plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler. I just couldn't get past the 600-plus-page volume called "Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy" (Thomas Nelson, 2010).
I'm not opposed to reading. In fact I love it, and I probably do a lot more of it than most folks, but with my schedule, finding time to carve out a reading session that would allow me to finish the book in one or two sittings was next to impossible and the sheer weight of the book didn't make it an easy selection for throwing into my bag for commuting on the train.

So I did my best and made three or four attempts over a year and a half before I realized that I likely would never be able to sit and read the volume all the way through. Metaxas is exhaustive in his research and while this is a good thing when reporting a full picture of a life, it is slow-going for anyone with an attention span trained these days more for the instant nature of the Internet and news flashes told in 140-character Twitter posts.

I respect Metaxas as a Christian and a writer. He hosts the popular Socrates in the City discussion series in New York and recently took over writing the BreakPoint series when Chuck Colson died. He has written a slew of children's books, has penned several great books for people with questions about Christianity or Jesus and wrote the companion book for the popular movie Amazing Grace about the life of William Wilberforce who was instrumental in the movement to abolish slavery in England. So  really wanted to read Bonhoeffer . . .
I finally discovered that the book had been released as an audio book and that turned out to be the solution I needed since I spend so much time commuting in my car. Finally, I was able to enjoy the story of this amazing man. He was a prominent theologian and the "confessing church" refers to his leadership in opposing the German government's efforts to control the church. He spoke in opposition to Nazi treatment of the Jews and he and others joining him helped Jews in hiding and were sent to concentration camps and prisons.

Bonhoeffer is an amazing example of faith in action, standing for what is right and sacrificing ones life for God's purposes. His story most certainly is relevant in current times.

I focus here on my own wimpiness in being able to read the hardcover, because I know I'm not alone. I have heard from countless of you who have confessed the same reluctance and intimidation because of the size of the volume. So I take this time, some two year after it was published, to encourage you to read it also. It's now available in lighter paperback and Kindle versions as well as the CD audio book which was a Godsend for me. It's well worth reading.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Playwright, Museum Receive 2012 Lights Are Bright on Broadway Awards

Catherine Trieschmann
Playwright Catherine Trieschmann and Discovery Times Square are winners of the 2012 "The Lights Are Bright on Broadway" Awards, given annually by Masterwork Productions, Inc. to recognize individuals and organizations making a difference in the Broadway theater community through faith.
Trieschmann is being honored for her play, How the World Began, which ran Off Broadway this season at The Women's Project in association with South Coast Repertory. It is an intelligent examination of the science vs. creation argument explored from both sides of the issue and prompts debate and discussion among theatergoers. You can read the review by clicking here.

Psalms
Discovery Times Square is being honored for its Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit which featured a number of the scrolls, including the oldest surviving copy of the Ten Commandments, artifacts and a stone from the western wall in Jerusalem on which museum patrons were encouraged to leave notes of prayer. It was presented with the cooperation of The Israeli Antiquities Authority.

"How the World Began breathed new life into a timely debate," said Lauren Yarger, executive director of Masterwork Productions. "Ms. Trieschmann creates complex, likable characters who are opposed on the issues, but very respectful of each other as people."

"The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit was a real treat," she continued. "It doesn't get much more literal about bringing the Word of God to the theater district and the museum did so in a way that was meaningful to believers while being interesting to those who had no religious connection to the scrolls. The exhibit also was respectful of all faiths."

Carl Cricco, director of marketing at Running Subway Productions will accept the award for Discovery Times Square. Presentation of the award to Treischmann has not been set.

The Women's Project  in New York, Julie Crosby, producing artistic director, is the nation's oldest and largest company dedicated to producing and promoting theater created by women. Discovery Times Square is is the destination for discovery through unique exhibits in New York. Masterwork Productions, Inc. is a Christian performing arts organization offering the only resource for professional Broadway theater reviews with added information about language and content at Reflections in the Light.

Past winners of "The Lights Are Bright on Broadway Award":
2009 Cheryl Cutlip/Project Dance & Dan Gordan, author Irena's Vow on Broadway
2010 Kia Corthron, author of A Cool Dip in the Barren Saharan Creek (Playrights Horizons) and Max McLean/The Screwtape Letters (Westside Theatre)
2011 Retta Blaney, producer Broadway Blessing at St. John Cathedral and Dave Davlos, author  of Wittenberg (Pearl Theatre Co.)

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Musical Journey That's ...Amazing

The cast of Amazing Grace. Photo: Diane Sobolewski
Epic Tale of Slavery and Grace Eyes the Great White Way
By Lauren Yarger
It's a love story weaved between the threads of slavery, forgiveness and faith and though everyone is familiar with the hymn that grew out of it, no one has tried to put the epic tale on the stage before. Until now.

Amazing Grace is getting a run at Goodspeed Musicals' developmental Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT with an eye toward hitting Broadway. This might seem like a lofty goal given the large scale of  the production in a struggling economy that has producers holding on tightly to their investment dollars  (even smaller musicals can cost tens of millions of dollars to produce in New York). And the material is religious to boot (religious-themed shows have a hard time getting favorable reviews on the Great White Way.) Given the nothing-short-of-miraculous journey of the musical, so far, however, all things may be possible.



The musical is the creative baby of Christopher Smith, right, a soft-spoken Warwick, PA resident who as a teen had taught himself to play the guitar by watching video tapes. Music provided an escape from a difficult home: his parents divorced and his mother struggled with depression. He wrote a lot of folk music and listened to a lot of music videos. He found that music started to "build pictures" in his head and that he could "feel" how the music should sound.
He attended Catholic schools, but "didn't believe in much of anything" until he was 17 when he met up with a youth director who invited him to join the group at his church.

"I was a nerdy kid who didn't get along with anyone, but these people loved me even when I was a dork."

The experience led him to start attending their Presbyterian church and a personal faith in God. In 1996, helping with a youth activity for the church, he picked up a children's book about John Newton, the writer of the Amazing Grace hymn, and his passions of music and faith fused.

Some research revealed that no one before had focused a stage musical on Newton, the 18th-century slave trader who came to faith, became a clergyman and strongly supported the abolitionist movement in England. He would do it, he decided, despite the facts that he never had written anything for the theater and doesn't actually read music.

 "Daybreak," one of the songs included in Amazing Grace, actually is the third song he ever composed.

"I wrote from the heart years ago," then years later, his wife suggested that the tune would be  perfect for Amazing Grace.

He continued working on the musical off and on for about 10 years, knowing that it had "all the stuff of good drama."

"It has a a personal story of redemption about a man who has made mistakes and comes through tumultuous circumstances," he said, drawing comparisons to Les Mis.


Finally, in 2006, he mentioned the work to a musician friend in Bucks County, PA who was excited by the project and encouraged Smith to show it to others. Smith borrowed some music composing  software from his brother and created an overture (you can listen to it here, along with other selections form the score). He went to offices and homes to tell the story, sing songs and drum up interest in the project.

"The first half million dollars came from right inside Buck's County," he said.

Smith set up a reading at a Baptist church which could seat 600 people and had to find room for 1,200 who showed up. A second reading was set up for New York in the Empire State Building. Attending was Carolyn Rossi Copeland, founder of the former Lamb's Theater in Times Square, and producer of successful shows like Smoke on the Mountain, Gifts of the Magi, Johnny Pye, Roads to Home and Freud's Last Session, about an imaginary meeting between Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis, which currently is enjoying a long Off-Broadway run. 


"I went begrudgingly at first," said the producer who says she gets pitched anything with a religious connection because of her time with the Lambs, which was affiliated with the Nazarene Church. Once she heard the music, she was glad she went.
The story, however, needed development, she thought. Smith had stuck close to historic facts and focused on the love story between Newton and his childhood sweetheart Mary Catlett (Smith drew upon his own relationship with his wife, Alana, who was his own high school sweetheart, to create a strong character for Mary, about whom not much is known).

Copeland felt that this story was as much the slaves’ as it was Newton's. She suggested bringing in Arthur Giron as a mentor. He eventually came on as co-writer of the book They added slaves as prominent characters and tell part of the tale from their point of view.  The rewrites have continued through the developmental run at Goodspeed where producer Michael P. Price's input and perspective have been invaluable, Smith said. Audience feedback following some performances is helpful too.

Gabriel Barre directs. The creative team includes choreographer Benoit-Swan Pouffer, Music Director Jodie Moore, Set Designer Beowulf Boritt and Costume Designer Toni-Leslie James.
"There are parts of Amazing Grace that are hard for me to watch," Smith said referring to the depiction of slavery, but he felt strongly about not "Disneyfying" that aspect of the story. "More than 27 million are in bondage today."

So is Broadway ready for an epic musical Goodspeed advertises as "Storms. Slavery. Romance. Redemption?"

Copeland and Smith think so, perhaps following a national tour.

Smith, who defines his own faith as broadminded and not defined by extremism, says the message in the musical is not religious, or preachy, but one which can appeal to everyone.

"It is written into our DNA that we want to be loved in spite of our failures," he said. Amazing Grace is about that (the beautiful tune "Nothing There to Love" puts this sentiment into a soul-touching ballad) and the fact that suffering matters, that people can go beyond perceived limits.

"We're trying to give the audience something so basic to the human heart that everyone will get it."

Apparently they are. The Box Office has done strong business and Copeland reported that the opening-night crowd lept to their feet at the final curtain with people talking about how moving they had found the show.

Amazing Grace runs at the Norma Terris, 33 North Main Street, Chester, CT, through June 10. For tickets and performance schedule: 860-873-8668;
goodspeed.org.


Whitney Bashor (Mary Catlett). Photo: Diane Sobolewski
Chris Peluso (Mamma Mia!, Lestat, and Assassins) stars as Newton with Whitney Bashor as Mary. Principal cast members are Mike Evarsite (Thomas/Keita); Harriet D. Foy (The Princess); Chris Hoch (Major Gray); Laiona Michelle (Nanna/Ayotunde); Dennis Parlato (Captain Newton

Monday, May 28, 2012

Socrates in the City Hosts Author of Devil's Delusion

From Host Eric Metaxas:
On June 12 Socrates in the City will host entertaining and brilliant polymath David Berlinski, who will talk on the subject of his book "The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions." Berlinski lives in Paris and is very rarely on our shores. Trust us: you simply do not want to miss him.
David BerlinskiWilliam F. Buckley has written: "Berlinski's book The Devil's Delusion is everything desirable: it is idiomatic, profound, brilliantly polemical, amusing, and of course vastly learned. I congratulate him." We couldn't agree more.
Registration for this event is now open and we hope you will join us by clicking here immediately.
 
For information on the Joe Loconte event on May 31st, click here. The cost for this event is still only $25 (until May 27th) and all who register will get a complimentary hardcover copy of The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt, which Dr. Loconte will be happy to sign at the conclusion of the event.

Students with an ID can attend for free, but will not get a free book, although books will also be available for purchase at the event. To ensure a student seat, please email kristen@ericmetaxas.com.

Monday, April 16, 2012

2012 Christy Nominations Announced

Nominees for the 2012 Christy Awards for excellence in Christian fiction were announced this morning.

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

My Foolish Heart by Susan May Warren (Tyndale House Publishers)
Larkspur Cove by Lisa Wingate (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Wolfsbane by Ronie Kendig (Barbour Publishing)

CONTEMPORARY SERIES, SEQUELS, AND NOVELLAS

The Amish Midwife by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould (Harvest House Publishers)

Dancing on Glass by Pamela Binnings Ewen (B&H Publishing Group)

The Touch by Randall Wallace (Tyndale House Publishers)

CONTEMPORARY STAND ALONE

Dry as Rain by Gina Holmes (Tyndale House Publishers)

Promises to Keep by Ann Tatlock (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Words by Ginny Yttrup (B&H Publishing Group)

FIRST NOVEL

An Eye for Glory by Karl Bacon (Zondervan)

Southern Fried Sushi by Jennifer Rogers Spinola (Barbour Publishing)

Words by Ginny Yttrup (B&H Publishing Group)

HISTORICAL

Forsaking All Others by Allison Pittman (Tyndale House Publishers)

Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

HISTORICAL ROMANCE

A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

To Die For by Sandra Byrd (Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster)

SUSPENSE

Over the Edge by Brandilyn Collins (B&H Publishing Group)

Pattern of Wounds by Mark Bertrand (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

 The Queen by Steven James (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

VISIONARY

The Chair by Jim Rubart (B&H Publishing Group)

Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee (Center Street, a division of Hachette Book Group USA)

Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

YOUNG ADULT

How Huge the Night by Heather Munn and Lydia Munn (Kregel Publications)

Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson (Zondervan)

Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren (David C Cook)

The 13th annual Christy Awards for excellence in Christian fiction will be presented at a 7 pm dinner July 16 at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando. The reservation form for the 2012 Christy Awards will be available online at www.christyawards.com after April 26. Watch for an announcement regarding keynote speaker and emcee soon.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Casting Announced for Amazing Grace Musical in Connecticut

Goodspeed Musicals has announced casting for the new musical Amazing Grace running May 17- June 10 at The Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT, Goodspeed’s home for developing new works.

From the theater:
Storms. Slavery. Romance. Redemption. Prepare to be swept away by this epic musical saga about John Newton, a rebellious slave trader, and the woman who never lost faith in him. While fighting the raging seas and his own despair, Newton’s life is suddenly transformed - igniting a quest to end the scourge of slavery. Based on a true story of the man who penned the world’s most recognizable song, it’s a powerful musical you will never forget.

Amazing Grace features music and lyrics by Christopher Smith and book by Arthur Giron and Christopher Smith.

Goodspeed Musicals, the first two-time Tony Award winning theatre in the country, is delighted to announce that the cast of Amazing Grace will be led by Chris Peluso who will play John Newton. Peluso appeared in Broadway’s Mamma Mia!, Lestat, and Assassins.Whitney Bashor will play Mary Catlett. Laiona Michelle will play Nanna/Ayotunde. Mike Evarsite will play Thomas/Keita. Captain Newton will be played by Dennis Parlato of Broadway’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Sound of Music, Chess, and A Chorus Line as well as Mrs. McThing at Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theatre.

Major Gray will be played by Chris Hoch of Broadway’s La Cage aux Folles; Shrek The Musical;Spamalot; Dracula, the Musical; and Beauty and the Beast. Hoch also appeared in Goodspeed’s Caraboo, Princess of Javasu at The Norma Terris.

Harriet D. Foy will play The Princess. Ms. Foy appeared in Broadway’s The American Plan, Mamma Mia! and Once on This Island as well as in Goodspeed’s Good Sports at The Norma Terris Theatre.

The ensemble includes Jonathan Burke, Merideth Kaye Clark, Rheaume Crenshaw, Andrew Crowe, Tyrone Davis Jr., Rachael Ferrera,Liam Forde, Logan Rose Nelms, Adbur Rahim Jackson, Olivia Bowman Jackson, Allen Kendall, Alex Krasser, Kate Marilley, Danny Rothman, Gavriel Savit, Victoria Thornsbury, Paul Michael Valley, Charles E. Wallace, Toni Elizabeth White and Noah Zachary.

Amazing Grace will be directed by Gabriel Barre. Choreography will be by Benoit-Swan Pouffer.
The set will be designed by Beowulf Boritt, costumes will be designed by Toni-Leslie James.

Amazing Grace will run May 17 through June 10, 2012. Curtain times are Wednesday at 2 and 7:30 pm., Thursday at 7:30 p.m.*, Friday at 8 pm, Saturday at 3 and 8 pm and Sunday at 2 and 6:30 pm (*Thurs. 8 pm only on May 17th).

Tickets: 860-873-8668; www.goodspeed.org.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Godspell Prepares Way for New Jesus: High School Musical's Corbin Bleu

Prepare ye! On Tuesday, April 17 the company of Broadway's first-ever revival of Stephen Schwartz's legendary rock musical GODSPELL welcomes a new leading man -- stage and screen star Corbin Bleu (Disney's "High School Musical," Broadway's In the Heights) -- to the starring role of Jesus.

Bleu follows original star Hunter Parrish, who is set to play his final performance as Jesus on Sunday, April 15  before returning to Los Angeles to begin filming the eighth season of the Showtime series "Weeds."

"I know Corbin Bleu has a special affinity for GODSPELL, and with his great talent, charisma, and radiant energy, I know he will be terrific in the show," said Stephen Schwartz. "I am very much looking forward to working with him and seeing him as our new Jesus." 

Bleu made his Broadway stage debut in 2010 as the lead character, bodega-owner Usnavi, in the critically acclaimed musical In the Heights.
  
He starred in the Emmy-award winning Disney Channel Original Movie "High School Musical" and its sequel, "High School Musical 2" alongside Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, and Ashley Tisdale. "High School Musical 2" premiered to 18 million viewers, making it the highest rated Disney Channel Original Movie in history and the overall highest rated program in cable history.

Following to the worldwide success of "High School Musical," Bleu reprised his role in "High School Musical 3: Senior Year." The film broke opening weekend records and grossed over $250 million worldwide.

In March 2009, he released his second studio album, Speed of Light (Hollywood Records), a collaboration with some of the top producers and writers in the industry including Eric Hudson (Kanye West, Jennifer Hudson), Claude Kelly (Akon, Michael Jackson) and Brian Kennedy (Rihanna). He co-wrote the songs "Moments that Matter" and "Champion" with Claude Kelly (both tracks produced by Eric Hudson).

His debut solo album Another Side was released in May 2007. The album featured the hit single "Push it to the Limit" from the film Jump In! His single "Run It Back Again," from the Disney Channel Original Movie "Minutemen," became one of the top 10 downloaded songs on iTunes. Bleu performed material from "Another Side during" his North America tours in 2007 and 2008. He was subsequently nominated for a 2008 NAACP Image Award for Best New Artist.

His other film credits include Catch That Kid opposite Kristen Stewart, Soldier opposite Kurt Russell, Galaxy Quest opposite Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver, Mystery Men opposite Ben Stiller and Hank Azaria, Duane Clark's Family Tree and William Dear's Free Style, which Bleu also produced.
 
He is the national spokesperson for the Starlight Children's Foundation and is also involved with St. Jude's Children's Hospital and the Make-a-Wish. 

Godspell plays at Broadway's Circle in the Square Theatre (1633 Broadway at 50th Street). For discounted tickets, click here. For more information, visit www.godspell.com.

Freud's Last Session Begins Chicago Run

The international hit play FREUD’S LAST SESSION by Mark St. Germain began performances at the Mercury Theater in Chicago for a limited engagement through June 3. The Chicago debut of FREUD’S LAST SESSION stars the original New York cast: Mark H. Dold as C. S. Lewis and Martin Rayner as Sigmund Freud. Winner of the 2011 Off Broadway Alliance Award for Best Play, FREUD’S LAST SESSION is currently in its second smash year at NYC’s New World Stages (340 West 50th Street) and stars George Morfogen and Jim Stanek.
Additional productions of FREUD'S LAST SESSIONare already set to open into 2013 in major markets across the nation and around the world, including London, Madrid, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Singapore, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Seattle.

Under the direction of Tyler Marchant, FREUD’S LAST SESSION centers on legendary psychoanalyst Dr. Sigmund Freud, who invites the young, rising academic star C. S. Lewis to his home in London. Lewis, expecting to be called on the carpet for satirizing Freud in a recent book, soon realizes Freud has a much more significant agenda. On the day England enters World War II, Freud and Lewis clash on the existence of God, love, sex, and the meaning of life – just two weeks before Freud chooses to take his own. Not just a powerful debate, this is a profound and deeply touching play about two men who boldly addressed the greatest questions of all time. Mark St. Germain’s celebrated new play was suggested by the bestselling book The Question of God by Harvard’s Dr. Armand M. Nicholi, Jr.

There have been an unusually high number of celebrity sightings at FREUD’S LAST SESSION, including such luminaries as Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, Neil Simon, Barbara Walters, Richard Gere, Jerry Stiller, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, John Cleese, Patricia Heaton, Cornel West, Christiane Amanpour, Marcia Gay Harden, John Kander, Andy Rooney, Dick Cavett, Frank Oz, Dr. Ruth (5 times!), Peter Shaffer, The Amazing Kreskin, Celeste Holm, Victoria Jackson, TR Knight, Dan Lauria, Scott Adsit, Warner Wolf, Tina Louise, and Mari Davi.
Playwright Mark St. Germain has written the plays Camping with Henry and Tom (Outer Critics Circle and Lucille Lortel Awards), The Best of Enemies, Out of Gas on Lover’s Leap, and Forgiving Typhoid Mary. With Randy Courts, he has written the musicals The Gifts of the Magi, Johnny Pye and the Foolkiller and Jack’s Holiday. TV credits include Writer and Creative Consultant for The Cosby Show. Mark co-wrote the screenplay for the acclaimed film Duma, and he directed and co-produced the documentary My Dog: An Unconditional Love Story featuring Richard Gere, Glenn Close and Edward Albee, among many others.

For more information about both the New York and Chicago productions of FREUD’S LAST SESSION, visit www.FreudsLastSession.com.

Are Reason and Spirituality Compatible?

From Eric Metaxas at Socrates in the City:
Friends of Socrates!
I'm thrilled to say that on April 11th we have the privilege of hearing from the legendary Dr. Dallas Willard on the subject "Are Reason and Spirituality Compatible?"
Stephen Meyer
Dallas Willard is a Professor of Philosophy at USC and is the author of many acclaimed best-sellers, including The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God (1998) and The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives (1988).
We've wanted to get him for years and we are very happy to think he will finally be with us at Socrates in the City on April 11th. Will you? We hope so. Please REGISTER TODAY and please tell your friends about this great opportunity to hear this great man talk on an absolutely quintessential Socrates in the City subject!
For all the details, please visit www.socratesinthecity.com.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Movie Review: October Baby

By Mike Parker
courtesy of http://buddyhollywood.com

October Baby opens with college student, Hannah (Rachel Hendrix) stepping onto the stage for her theatrical debut.

Unfortunately, before she can deliver her first line she collapses from an unknown malady. Multiple medical tests point to Hannah’s difficult birth and force the revelation that not only was Hannah adopted, but she was the product of botched abortion attempt. Bewildered, angered, and confused, Hannah hits the road to confront her birth mother and find out who she really is.

October Baby
Provident Films

October Baby, like most films, has good points and bad points. Unfortunately, due to its subject matter, critics and reviewers will tend to focus on one or the other based on their position on the abortion debate. Pro-lifers will tend to support it while abortion advocates will universally despise it, without paying much attention to the actual film. Think I’m wrong? Just read the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and compare them to the positive audience reactions.

Well, I admit I’m just as opinionated as the next guy, and I never claimed to write an unbiased review. Here’s what I think of October Baby.

I liked it. I think it deserves a solid 3 out of 5 stars. Not a bad rating for a low-budget, independent, faith-based film. Let’s face it, a million dollar film is simply never going to be able to compete with a 50 million dollar film, either in quality or marketing.

On the positive side, October Baby featured some really nice performances, not only from Hollywood veterans like John Schneider (Dukes of Hazzard, Smallville), who has become something of a staple in these types of films, but also from the film’s young leads, Rachel Hendrix and Jason Burkey. Both of these relatively unknown actors deliver polished, nuanced and believable performances. The faith element in the film is evident but nuanced. There wasn’t much sermonizing going on, despite what mainstream critics would have you believe. This is not a Bible-thumping, somebody-has-to-get-saved kind of movie, like Fireproof or Courageous. The cinematography was uniformly excellent. October Baby is a good looking film. Honestly, this is the direction faith-based filmmakers should be going if they really want to build an audience outside the four walls of the church and play to someone other than the choir.

On the down side, the script is a little sketchy at times. Hannah collapses in the opening scene, but even though her plethora of physical problems is alluded to later in the film, it never really is addressed again. There were plenty of opportunities for humor, particularly with Chris Sligh’s character, that were never really fully developed. And I cringed at the scene where Hannah offers a cop money to overlook a traffic violation. I’m pretty sure if I tried that I’d end up in jail. It’s called bribery, and cops tend to take a dim view of it. Then again, I’m not a pretty young girl, but I digress.

Bottom line: October Baby should do well in the faith-based market, which is substantial. It could do well in the mainstream market if viewers gave it a chance, which they probably won’t due to its subject matter. And it is going up against Hunger Games, which I predict will blow every other film out of the water this weekend.

Author Mike Parker edits the popular entertainment site Buddy Hollywood.com. He and his wife, Paula, also an author, live outside of Nashville.

Family-Friendly Theater Takes Stage at New York's New Victory

The Book of Everything
US Premiere
 Belvoir and Kim Carpenter’s Theatre of Image
Sydney, Australia
April 20 - 29
The New Victory Theater

Neil Armfield, former artistic director of Sydney’s Belvoir and acclaimed director of Exit the King (Broadway, 2009) and Diary of a Madman (Brooklyn Academy of Music , 2010), will direct The Book of Everything, a play for young people and families that will run at The New Victory Theater, 209 West 42nd Street, from April 20 through April 29.

Set in post-war Amsterdam in 1951, The Book of Everything centers on nine-almost-ten-year-old Thomas Klopper who imagines tropical fish swimming in the city’s canals, torrential hailstorms raging in midsummer and Jesus stopping by every now and again for a chat. Thomas chronicles his daydreams in the “Book of Everything,” a secret diary that contains his greatest aspiration: “When I grow up, I’m going to be happy.” But happiness eludes Thomas, his sister and his mother as they struggle with a controlling and sometimes violent father. Filled with both humor and hope, the Book of Everything is adapted by Richard Tulloch and based on the Dutch novel by Guus Kuijer, recent winner of the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Award.

Recommended for ages 10 to adult.

Performance Schedule:
Fri 4/20 7pm
Sat 4/21 2pm, 7pm
Sun 4/22 3pm
Fri 4/27 7pm
Sat 4/28 2pm, 7pm
Sun 4/29 3pm

General Ticket Information:
Tickets for The Book of Everything at The New Victory Theater (209 West 42nd Street) cost $25, $18, $12 and $9 for Members and $38, $28, $18 and $14 for Non-members based on seat locations. 

Theater-goers who buy tickets for three or more New Vic shows qualify for free Membership benefits, including up to 35-percent savings. To purchase tickets online, visit NewVictory.org, and to purchase by phone, call 646-223-3010. The New Victory Theater box office (209 West 42nd Street) is open Sunday and Monday from 11am-5pm and Tuesday through Saturday from noon-7 pm.

Monday, March 5, 2012

On Being a Good Christian Bit**

WINTER PRESS TOUR 2012 - The cast of ABC's "GCB" posed for a photo op at Disney/ABC Television Group's Winter Press Tour 2012. (ABC/RICK ROWELL) MIRIAM SHOR, BRAD BEYER, KRISTIN CHENOWETH, LESLIE BIBB, ANNIE POTTS, DAVID JAMES ELLIOTT, JENNIFER ASPEN, MARISOL NICHOLS
By Lauren Yarger
Amdist political battles over women's rights regarding access to contraceptives and Rush Limbaugh's apology for calling a woman a slut and prostitute, it's interesting to see the launch of ABC Television's new show GCB. That's Good Christian Bit**es, for those of you who don't know, and it really begs the question of "just when is it OK to use derogatory terms when describing women?"

Wait, some will cry -- they changed the name. When the original title was announced, about a year ago, the network experienced backlash from religious and women's groups who were rightly offended. So for a brief period, they renamed the show Good Christian Belles, since the premise deals with a former "mean girl" who returns with her children to her Texas hometown after her husband dies. Quickly, however, ABC renamed the show and on the show's web page, next to the now just initials title, it announces that GCB is based on the book Good Christians Bit**es by Kim Gatlin who is a writer for the series.

So I'm not stupid. I know exactly what the name of this show is, but I have to wonder about the audience ABC hopes to attract. Is it aimed at Christians? They are, television and the movies have found, a lucrative market if they can be tapped, but there's one problem. How do you define "Christian?" Whether in churches or in the entertainment industry, the term can vary quite a lot in meaning and what it means to you, might not be what it means to me. In the entertainment circles in which I move, defining one's self as a Christian can mean a number of things, including:
-- you aren't Jewish
-- you go to church occasionally
-- you were brought up going to church, but no longer go yourself
-- you were baptised as a baby
-- you are a nice person
-- you are a spiritual person

So if ABC is targeting that crowd, they are going to miss the "born againer" crowd, those who profess a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If they are targeting this crowd, they probably won't interest the politically correct, all-inclusive, God-doesn't-judge-anyone crowd or those not interested in Christian or religious themes. Take the religious factor out, and the creative team is heavily male, so I wonder whether they even are actively targeting women.

At the very least, using the term "bit**" so casually toward women offends me. I also balk at using new phrases like "pimp my car" or listening to rap music, which through the use of any number of derogatory terms,promotes mistreatment and abuse of women. I am also tired of Christian women being fair game when it comes to attacks by anyone who feels like taking a pot shot (Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, for example, are called everything from stupid to horrible names by people who disagree with their political policies, but I don't hear a national outcry or see FaceBook posts demanding apologies for them.)

To reiterate a point often made about GCB, I doubt very much whether ABC would have considered airing a show about Good Muslim Bit**es, or Good Black Bit**es or Good Gay Bit**es (which of course, would be just as offensive to me.) But because they are women, and Christians to boot, they apparently are fair game.

In a sea of television shows already devoid of positive, strong female characters, I would have welcomed a show about a group of good Christian women. I wouldn't have expected them to be perfect, or for the storylines to be squeaky clean. Life is full of complications, and none of us is perfect (that is, after all, why we need Christ in the first place.) How pleasant would it have been to watch a television show about women dealing with the routine of their lives who drew strength from their faith? I would have watched and been a ready audience for advertisers willing to support such programming, but those making decisions about what we see on television overwhelmingly aren't Christian or women, so they aren't motivated by wanting to put Christian or solid women's programming on TV. They simply want to make money and they think that if Christian is in the title, we'll be happy.

Instead, I was turned off immediately by the title and had no interest in watching, despite the intriguing casting of self-proclaimed Christian Kristin Chenoweth, whose work I know from the Broadway shows I review. The fair and unbiased critic in me balked at dismissing the program without watching it, however, especially after I started getting tons of questions from my readers about whether or not I would recommend they watch the television show.

I did watch the pilot, which premiered last night, and came away unchanged in my offense to the title and to the use of the term "bit**." It was used twice in the pilot. I also have no answer to the question about whom the show is supposed to appeal. The "Christian" parts are rather stereotypical and the women are portrayed as shallow sex objects. I won't be watching again.

Here is a summary (and I am not making any of it up):

The first scene is of a woman beginning to perform oral sex on a male, who is distracted and drives their car off the road. It turns out he was the husband of Amanda Vaughn (Leslie Bibb) Carlene Cockburn (Chenoweth) reminds them that they shouldn't be talking like that on the phone -- that they should resume at church.

Carlene, using scripture, falsely welcomes Amanda. Real estate agent Heather Cruz (Marisol Nichols) takes advantage of people's personal tragedies to bolster her business and offers to help Carlene find a place of her own away from the mother she can't stand. Gigi spends her time teaching her young grandson how to mix drinks and her granddaughter how to tease "big hair" and expose her breasts so men will be attracted to her.

The big plot action revolves around a mystery admirer who gives Amanda a new car and $100,000 worth of items from Neiman Marcus. Could it be Zac Peacham(Brad Beyer), husband of former beauty queen Sharon (Jennifer Aspen), who can't stop eating and gaining weight? Zac paws and kisses Amanda at his car dealership, but she rebuffs him. Instead, she gets set up on a date to the Longhorn Ball, the annual "meat market," with a ranch foreman who turns out to be the gay lover of Blake Reilly, who runs a fashion business with wife, Cricket Caruth-Reilly (Miriam Shor), another of the girlfriends.

Carlene encourages Amanda to drink, even though she's an alcoholic, saying that Jesus prefered wine to water. She steals the Neiman Marcus card so they can find out who sent it to Amanda, saying that it isn't stealing, it's research, and that God hates failure, so they have to find out who sent the card. Carlene asks her oilman husband Ripp (David James Elliott) whether she should tell Sharon that Zac and Amanda were kissing at the dealership. He suggests instead that they have sex on his desk. Previously he had told her he was turned on by her lesson about David and Bathsheba in Sunday School.

Carlene uses scripture to threaten one of her friends with a loss of business if she doesn't continue harassing Amanda. Bribery keeps local businesses from hiring Amanda for any job and she ends up taking a waitressing position at Boobylicious, a sort of Hooters place. One of the girls' sons snaps a photo of her bending over and Carlene uses it to confront Amanda. This is a righteous community, she tells her, and Sharon agrees saying they have a moral code.

God's name is taken in vain.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Science is Topic of Premiere Event in DC

From Eric Metaxas and Socrates in the City:
For years it's been our plan to bring the wit and wisdom of Socrates in the City to cities beyond New York! We've already done that in San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, and Fort Worth -- and will continue to do so in those places. But now, on March 15th, Socrates in the City will hold its premier event in Washington DC!
Stephen Meyer
Our inaugural speaker will be the esteemed scientist and I.D. proponent Dr. Stephen Meyer of Seattle's famous Discovery Institute. Perhaps you've seen him in the "Expelled" documentary hosted by Ben Stein a few years ago. If you have ever wanted to know something more about the debate concerning what is science and what isn't science, this is your opportunity to hear -- and to question -- one of I.D.'s most brilliant advocates.

The event will be held in the spectacular University Club on 16th Street in downtown DC. Because of Dr. Meyer's popularity, we expect this event to sell out, so if you want to be in on the first ever SITC event in our nation's capital, please register today! We will also be having a Patron's Dinner immediately following. Details are at our website. Please visit and register by clicking here.
We look forward to seeing you there on March 15.

Eric MetaxasPresident and Host, SITC

Christian Artists Gather in New York

Church and Art Network will hold its second NYC-area regional gathering Saturday afternoon, March 10 att 3 pm for a time of fellowship and encouragement, as well as to hear from fundraising consultant Sarah Chung on "Talking So Donors Will Listen."
"Most arts leaders are responsible, on some level, for raising funding, communicating with donors, or cultivating support for our programs," said Church and Art Network Directpr Luann Jennings. "Yet finding investors who'd be interested in our work, or framing our mission and programs so that they get interested, can be quite challenging. As Christians, we can also feel caught in the tension between cultivating the virtue of humility and needing to speak boldly about the value of what we're doing for God's kingdom," she said.
Chung will talking about: Understanding Sources of Funding; Understanding Fundraising Channels; Communicating with Sources of Funding; Understanding Their Values and Speaking Their Language; and Building a Case for Your Venture. Even if you don't work within a non-profit organization, or aren't responsible for fundraising, the type of thinking involved in developing supporters applies to many areas of arts leadership.
Dinner will follow, then the group will attend author and arts theologian Jeremy Begbie's lecture at Redeemer Presbyterian Church (7 to 9 pm: "A World Made New: The Art of Resurrection and the Resurrection of Art."

Both sessions are free of charge (dinner will be at your own cost at an inexpensive restaurant). To attend the C&A session and/or dinner, email info@churchandart.org. To attend the talk at Redeemer, visit here. RSVPs by March 6.

Lucky Duck Entertains Little Ones at the New Victory Theater

Looking for something for the little ones while in New York? The New Victory Theater presents the New York premiere of Lucky Duck, a musical from the Broadway team of Henry Krieger (Dreamgirls, Side Show), Bill Russell (Side Show) and Jeffrey Hatcher (Tuesdays with Morrie),geared toward tots aged 4-8.

With live musicians, clever lyrics and crisp choreography, this satirical, rags-to-runway musical created for young people puts a modern spin on classic musical theater. Lucky Duck will run at The New Victory Theater, 209 West 42nd Street, from March 16 through March 25.

Lucky Duck was created in Kansas City Coterie Theatre’s “Lab for New Family Musicals,” which was developed to connect accomplished Broadway composers to the field of professional theater for young audiences. “It all began with Seussical,” said Jeff Church, Lucky Duck Director and Coterie Producing Artistic Director, referring to the musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty that debuted on Broadway in 2000. “The experience with Seussical formalized the idea of bringing Broadway artists into the world of family musicals. In New York, The New Victory is the perfect theater at which to premiere our newest show, Lucky Duck” he said.

In this no-intermission, 75-minute production best for kids 4 to 8, doo-wopping ducks and other birdie beauties belt out show-stopping pop-soul numbers in exotic locales, like The Barnyard, The Forest and New Duck City.

Krieger received two Grammy® Awards for Dreamgirls: one in 2007 for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, and one in 1982 for Best Show Album.

Lucky Duck is directed by Jeff Church, with book by Russell and Hatcher, music by Krieger and lyrics by Russell. Music direction is by Anthony T. Edwards, orchestrations are by Harold Wheeler, choreography is by Ernie Dolan, set design is by Ryan J. Zirngibl, costume design is by Georgianna Buchanan, lighting design is by Jarrett Bertoncin, and sound design is by David Kiehl.

The Lucky Duck cast includes Seth Golay, Jennie Greenberry, Katie Karel, Greg Krumins, Tosin Morohunfola, Kip Niven, Tim Scott, Emily Shackelford, Julie Shaw and Francisco “Pancho Javier” Villegas.
 
General Ticket Information

Tickets for Lucky Duck at The New Victory Theater (209 West 42nd St., NYC) cost $25, $18, $12 and $9 for members and $38, $28, $18 and $14 for non members based on seat locations. To purchase tickets online, visit NewVictory.org, and to purchase by phone, call 646-223-3010. The box office (209 West 42nd Street) is open Sunday and Monday from 11am to 5 pm and Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 7pm.

Online Instruction Offered for Ministry Leaders

The Christian Leadership alliance (CLA) will offer six new online modules powered by Azusa Pacific Online University in April. Class sizes are limited, so register soon. The cost of these 10-week modules is $350 for CLA members and $450 for non-members.

Spring 2012 CLA online modules:
(Modules begin April 2, 2012. Registration deadline is March 26.)


(Resource Development): Biblical Foundations of Development
(Resource Development): Major Gifts
(Resource Development): Development Strategy and Planning
(Financial Management): Effective Financial Controllership
(Executive Leadership): Biblical Foundations of Leadership
(Board Governance): Biblical Foundations of Governance

These online modules provide credits towards a Credential in Christian Nonprofit Leadership (CCNL). Or towards a certificate from CLA-APOU.
Learn more or Register for Online Courses

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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