Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Book Review: Take One, Above The Line Series #1 by Karen Kingsbury

New Beginnings in a Comfortable Setting
By Jerry Starks
New Beginnings, or First Times, could be the subtitle of Karen Kingsbury’s novel “Take One, Above The Line Series #1” which follows the efforts of two Christian movie makers to complete their film.

Chase Ryan and his friend Keith Ellison are going to make a movie. Neither is new to the movie industry, but this is their first venture without any studio backing. They’ve got $2 million dollars with which to make their movie, not very much by Hollywood standards. Chase’s wife is very worried about personal financial ruin if the project doesn’t succeed.

Keith Ellison has immense faith that this project will succeed, but he has concerns too, about his only daughter, Andi, a freshman at Indiana University. She was raised in Indonesia where the Ellisons and the Ryans were missionaries and the Ellisons are rightly worried that their daughter’s sheltered upbringing has not prepared her for the American college scene.

Andi’s roommate is Bailey Flanigan, also a drama major and also a Christian. Their relationship of getting to know one another, then dealing with jealousy over roles and boyfriends is one of the best aspects of this book.

The movie is plagued with a reasonable set of road-blocks: equipment failure, a prima donna star, a stigma about working on a “Christian” film, and finally trouble with a union which stops production for three days. Also, the playboy teen idol makes moves on Andi (her first kiss – another First Time), and the prima donna vamps Chase, who is on-site away from wife and family. And, of course, money is running out rapidly.

While any art must condense time and situations to avoid rambling, it was hard to believe that many problems encountered by the movie production are resolved once and then never came back. Most problems in life require more than one gentle answer. The final resolution also seemed very generous, although it certainly makes it easier for Kingsbury to continue the series and focus on other issues.

With only a few rough edges in Kingsbury’s world, it is a very comfortable place to live. On the other hand, it’s commendable that she presents Christian approaches to both relational problems and vocational problems. It has become too common in American culture to be cynical, and I applaud Kingsbury for displaying characters who act out faith in God’s principles.

To purchase this book, visit http://tinyurl.com/dcyoja.

Jerry Starks is associate director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and has numerous acting and directing credits in both secular and Christian productions. He resides in Essex Junction, VT where he is active in the arts ministry at his church.

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Daily Inspiration

The Blind Side

Read about the real life mom from "The Blind Side."

Lifeway: http://www.lifeway.com/article/?id=169816

Guideposts: http://www.guideposts.com/story/sandra-bullock-blind-side-football?page=0,1

Read Matt Mungle's review of the movie at http://www.buddyhollywood.com/.

Lauren Yarger, Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

In 2008 she was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater with a Christian perspective for Reflections in the Light (http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/) and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com

She also reviews books for Publisher's Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She formerly was Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp, a national theater web site bsed in New York and a reviewer for American Theater Web.

She also served as Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

She is a freelance writer and member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The CT Critics Circle.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger lives with her husband in West Granby, CT and has two adult children.

Copyright Notice

All contents copyright © Lauren Yarger 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact masterworkproductions@yahoo.com.

Scripture from THE MESSAGE Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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