Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Are You in the Know?

God is at work in the Christian arts with a number of great opportunities to stay or get in the know through services and training provided by believers experienced in ministering through the arts. Check them out:

Christian in Theatre Arts (CITA) presents is annual summer networking conference June 10-14 at Azusa Pacific University in California. Robert Smyth, Producing Artistic
Director of Lamb’s Players in San Diego will be the keynote speaker. Workshops on a wide range of topics will be available. For more infomration, click in the space: www.cita.org

The International Worship Institute Conference will be held June 30-July 3 in Dallas/Forth Worth. The theme is "Embracing His Presence" and planners this year are doing just that by moving away from the more commercial feel of many larger Christian Conferences.
"Over time, the nature of our gatherings became too market-driven and self-absorbed," said Steve Fry, president. "Now, we feel that the Lord has graciously and lovingly corrected us. So, those returning to the IWI will see some changes. Although we will all receive great ministry from the anointed leaders who guide us, we will be far more focused on the Lord’s Presence than on personalities."
Presenters include Jack Hayford and Ross Parsley among others. For information, click in the space: http://worshipinstitute.com/iwi2008/index.php

The Worship Teleseminar hosted by Kenneth Voritskul is offering another lineup of free online training from some top instructors. Upcoming sessions include:
- How to make the best with less if you're short on talent or people
- How to continue growing as a worship leader over time
- How to build a more committed, united, and passionate worship team
For more information and to sign up for the seminar click in the space: http://worshipteleseminar.com/

If you're a song writer who'd like to see your music spread to the worldwide church or if you're a worship leader looking for ways to blend traditional and contemporary in your service, check out Consuming Worship. They offer worship tools and inspiration at http://www.consumingworship.com

Lillenas Drama and Music Publishing has come great end-of-season sales going on check out the drama and msuci sites by clicking in the space: http://www.lillenas.com

Vote for which upcoming Broadway show you'd like to see reviewed from a Christian perspective at Reflections in the light. Click here: http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Accomplished Artists Are Students

When we’re young and starting out in the arts, we acknowledge that we don’t know everything, that mentors are a godsend and that constant learning is a part of becoming the best actor, director, musician, technician, dancer or singer we can be. As skills (and accolades) increase, however, artists sometimes can lose site of those truths. We stop learning, fear competition and don't take the time to help others starting out.

I was encouraged last week at the Drama League Awards in New York to discover that some very accomplished and honored persons in the theater have not forgotten the importance of gleaning from those with whom they work.

Bartlett Sher, honored for excellence in directing (see list of winners below), spoke of a teacher who had influenced him, said that he and his cast and crew had learned a lot from each other and that “everything is passed on.” Patrick Stewart, star of Macbeth, was cited for serving as the team’s leader who poured into his fellow cast members. All the young actors in the production “want to be him and work with him again,” we were told.

Distinguished Performer winner Patti LuPone honored those who had helped make her performance possible:
Gypsy director Arthur Laurents as a director who allowed the cast to reinvent something that “wasn’t broke”
•the producers for their boldness in restaging a musical that had just been on Broadway five years ago
•the other actors for their ensemble skills

“I’m still a student, “LuPone said, “…awed by what I see on a stage.”

Somehow I think it’s that teachable spirit that allows Ms. LuPone and others like her to reach new heights in their ability to perform. It’s when we feel we have “arrived” and that we’re the one everyone else should be looking to for inspiration that we forget who the Master teacher is and from whom the talent comes in the first place.

Make a new commitment this week to learn from all those God has placed in your circle and to pass on His wisdom to those who view you as mentor.
“You'll only hear true and right words from my mouth;
not one syllable will be twisted or skewed.
You'll recognize this as true—you with open minds;
truth-ready minds will see it at once.
Prefer my life-disciplines over chasing after money,
and God-knowledge over a lucrative career.
For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth;
nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.” (Proverbs 8:8-11 THE MESSAGE)

Winners of the Drama League Awards:
Distinguished Production of a Play
August: Osage County
Distinguished Production of a Musical
A Catered Affair
Distinguished Revival—Play
Distinguished Revival—MusicalSouth Pacific
Distinguished Performance Award
Patti LuPone, Gypsy
Julia Hansen Award for Excellence in Directing
Bartlett Sher, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific
Unique Contribution to the Theatre
Ellen Stewart and LaMaMa E.T.C.
Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre
Paul Gemignani

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Broadway from a Christian Perspective

Every year in early May, I have to admit that I feel an excitement as the Tony Award nominations are announced (the 2007-2008 nominations announced this morning follow). I've been a theater lover all of my life and have always thought of attending Broadway shows as second nature, so when we come together once a year to recognize the best of the best, I can't help but be excited.

I remember the first time I actually got to attend the Tony Awards in person. It was like a dream come true. I annoyed the friend who went with me all night by saying, "This is so cool," about 4,000 times. The next year, now a Tony veteran, I went with a different theater loving friend who took over my "this is so cool" phrase duties.

In fact, there are a lot of Christians who love the theater. I know, because I work with a lot of them, or get calls from a lot of them asking my advice on what shows to see or produce. After some prodding from the Lord, I've decided to write regular reviews of Broadway shows from a Christian perspective. I hope you will find them helpful as regular reviews of a show: what works, what doesn't, whose performances are worth the more than $100 ticket prices on Broadway....as well as a means to be informed from a Christian perspective. Do the plots and themes reflect Christian values? Could language or other elements of the productions be offensive? Is it appropriate for the kids? Sometimes Christians have a hard time finding that kind of information in basic plot summaries or secular reviews and it's hard for them to choose shows they might like to attend while in New York, on vacation in other cities where Broadway shows are running or when the local performing arts center offers its tours of shows coming through for the Broadway season.

I hope these reviews will be of help to you. They will be carried here on the Christians in Performing Arts blog (http://christianperformers.blogspot.com/) as well at Reflections in the Light, my writing blog here: http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com.

"In the Heights," the hip-hop, salsa musical about the joys and relationships of Latino immigrants in Washington Heights led the Tony Award nominations announced this morning with 13 including Best Musical.
And the nominees are:
Best Play
August: Osage County
Rock 'n' Roll
The Seafarer
The 39 Steps

Best Musical
In the Heights
Passing Strange

Best Book of a Musical
Cry-Baby, Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan
In the Heights, Quiara Alegria Hudes
Passing Strange, Stew
Xanadu, Douglas Carter Beane

Best Original Score
Cry-Baby, Music & Lyrics: David Javerbaum & Adam Schlesinger
In The Heights, Music & Lyrics: Lin-Manuel Miranda
The Little Mermaid, Music: Alan Menken and Lyrics: Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater
Passing Strange, Music: Stew and Heidi Rodewald Lyrics: Stew

Best Revival of a Play
The Homecoming
Les Liaisons Dangereueses

Best Revival of a Musical
Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific
Sunday in the Park With George

Best Performance By a Leading Actor in a Play
Ben Daniels, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Laurence Fishburne, Thurgood
Mark Rylance, Boeing-Boeing
Rufus Sewell, Rock 'n' Roll
Patrick Stewart, Macbeth

Best Performance By a Leading Actress in a Play
Eve Best, The Homecoming
Deanna Dunagan, August: Osage County
Kate Fleetwood, Macbeth
S. Epatha Merkerson, Come Back, Little Sheba
Amy Morton, August: Osage County

Best Performance By a Leading Actor in a Musical
Daniel Evans, Sunday in the Park With George
Lin-Manuel Miranda, In the Heights
Stew, Passing Strange
Paulo Szot, Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific
Tom Wopat, A Catered Affair

Best Performance By a Leading Actress in a Musical
Kerry Butler, Xanadu
Patti LuPone, Gypsy
Kelli O'Hara, Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific
Faith Prince, A Catered Affair
Jenna Russell, Sunday in the Park With George

Best Performance By a Featured Actor in a Play
Bobby Cannavale, Mauritius
Raúl Esparza, The Homecoming
Conleth Hill, The Seafarer
Jim Norton, The Seafarer
David Pittu, Is He Dead?

Best Performance By a Featured Actress in a Play
Sinead Cusack, Rock 'n' Roll
Mary McCormack, Boeing-Boeing
Laurie Metcalf, November
Martha Plimpton, Top Girls
Rondi Reed, August: Osage County

Best Performance By a Featured Actor in a Musical
Daniel Breaker, Passing Strange
Danny Burstein, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific
Robin De Jesús, In The Heights
Christopher Fitzgerald, The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein
Boyd Gaines, Gypsy

Best Performance By a Featured Actress in a Musical
de'Adre Aziza, Passing Strange
Laura Benanti, Gypsy
Andrea Martin, The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein
Olga Merediz, In The Heights
Loretta Ables Sayre, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

Best Direction of a Play
Maria Aitken, The 39 Steps
Conor McPherson, The Seafarer
Anna D. Shapiro, August: Osage County
Matthew Warchus, Boeing-Boeing

Best Direction of a Musical
Sam Buntrock, Sunday in the Park with George
Thomas Kail, In The Heights
Arthur Laurents, Gypsy
Bartlett Sher, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

Best Choreography
Rob Ashford, Cry-Baby
Andy Blankenbuehler, In The Heights
Christopher Gattelli, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific
Dan Knechtges, Xanadu

Best Orchestrations
Jason Carr, Sunday in the Park with George
Alex Lacamoire & Bill Sherman, In the Heights
Stew & Heidi Rodewald, Passing Strange
Jonathan Tunick, A Catered Affair

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Peter McKintosh, The 39 Steps
Scott Pask, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Todd Rosenthal, August: Osage County
Anthony Ward, Macbeth

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
David Farley and Timothy Bird & The Knifedge Creative Network, Sunday in the Park with George
Anna Louizos, In the Heights
Robin Wagner, The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein
Michael Yeargan, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

Best Costume Design of a Play
Gregory Gale, Cyrano de Bergerac
Rob Howell, Boeing-Boeing
Katrina Lindsay, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Peter McKintosh, The 39 Steps

Best Costume Design of a Musical
David Farley, Sunday in the Park with George
Martin Pakledinaz, Gypsy
Paul Tazewell, In the Heights
Catherine Zuber, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Kevin Adams, The 39 Steps
Howard Harrison, Macbeth
Donald Holder, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Ann G. Wrightson, August: Osage County

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Ken Billington, Sunday in the Park with George
Howell Binkley, In the Heights
Donald Holder, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific
Natasha Katz, The Little Mermaid

Best Sound Design of a Play
Simon Baker, Boeing-Boeing
Adam Cork, Macbeth
Ian Dickson, Rock 'n' Roll
Mic Pool, The 39 Steps

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Acme Sound Partners, In the Heights
Sebastian Frost, Sunday in the Park with George
Scott Lehrer, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific
Dan Moses Schreier, Gypsy

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Stephen Sondheim

Regional Theatre Tony Award
Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Special Tony Award
Robert Russell Bennett (1894-1981)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What Do People See in Your Service?

If I were to ask what I could expect to see when attending a worship service at your church this weekend, what would you say?

This isn't a far-fetched question given the varied and changing worship styles in churches across the country. People want to know what to expect. What are some of the things you might list in giving a description of what people see in your service? Perhaps one or more of these:

·People dressed casually, lots of children; people dressed nicely, mostly older
·A platform decorated with colorful draping or a cool-looking backdrop; traditional church architecture with an altar
·Large screens for video clips, song lyrics and announcements; hymnals and bulletins
·A band including drums, electric guitar and electric base; piano and organ
·Exciting lighting effects; sun streaming through stained glass
·A team of vocalists leading the singing from the platform; a soloist
·A choir singing backup; a choir leading songs
·A pastor dressed in the latest hip, casual fashion; a pastor dressed in robes
·A dramatic sketch of some kind to lead into or reinforce the sermon; a liturgical reading

Whether these descriptions or others make up the recipe for your worship service, please be aware there's one important ingredient missing from this list: Jesus. Do people see Jesus in your worship service or is the focus on one or more of the ingredients? If you were to remove any or all of those ingredients, would folks in your church feel like they hadn't worshiped?

A good pastor friend recently commented that everything in the worship service should be for Jesus, not for us. It made me think about how the focus for so many churches has become producing a multi-sensory experience to make church interesting and stimulating and to attract large numbers. Now, there's nothing wrong with wanting church to be interesting and stimulating, but if Jesus is there, how can it help but be so?

I recently had the pleasure of visiting a church, which being contemporary protestant in nature, had all of the ingredients from the left side of the list mentioned above. The thing most noticeable, however, was not the high tech offerings, state-of-the-art facility or any other of the components. It was the presence of Jesus. He was noticeable in the church's people, in how they welcomed others, in how they treated and served one another, in how they loved their church and its leadership, in how their worship was all about Him. Everything these people did was about serving and worshiping Jesus and helping others do the same.

If I plan a worship service, I hope people meet Jesus there. I hope people leaving the service are saying things like, "I love you, Lord" and "Thank you, Lord" and not things like "Wow, that music really rocked" or "The sermon went too long." Believers can have wonderful experiences corporately worshiping our God, but the purpose of worship shouldn't be to give us a great experience. Remember, is all about Him. Seek Him and His kingdom first, and everything else will be added.

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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