Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Book Review: Hometown Favorite by Bill Barton and Henry O. Arnold

A Little Hard to Believe, Maybe, but Enjoyable
By Terry Robins
Dewayne Jobe is a small-town football star who rises above his background to become one of America's finest and most popular players in the NFL in "Hometown Favorite" by Bill Barton and Henry O. Arnold (Revell, September 2008). His glory is short-lived when family circumstances take control of his life and turn it into a nightmare. Top that off with a sudden onset of physical disaster, and the downward spiral is complete.

Readers who aren't huge football fans and knowledgeable of its terminology and jargon might be tempted to give up trying to slog through description after description of play by plays, but if you can persevere and get to the meat of the story it becomes more gripping.

Jobe's story is one of tenacious faith not only in God, but in the human spirit as well. He holds onto this faith through seemingly insurmountable odds, and with the help and support of a surprising friend, pulls himself out of the pit that becomes his life.

There are times in this story of hard luck and sad circumstances that it becomes a little difficult to believe that all the people who surround Jobe are instantaneously certain of his guilt. They never give him the benefit of the doubt, even when they are all aware that there is an evil element living within their family circle who is much more capable of the horrible deeds that transpire. The credulity of the story is also weakened by the total, unrelenting loss and disaster that strikes him all at once. It just seems that in the effort to create this picture of utter hopelessness the writer goes one step too far.

Readers looking for a pretty easy read and who can stand the horrific events that lead this character on his faith-testing journey will enjoy finding out the fate of Dewayne Jobe, however. By the way, anyone notice the similarity of this story line to the story of another guy named Job?
Find more information or buy the book here.

Terry Robins is a retired middle school teacher and serves at her church in the Kansas City area running its drama ministry and cafe and resource center. She has three daughters and four grand children.

Join in Asking a Blessing Over Broadway

Lynn Redgrave, J. Mark McVey, Carol Hall (pictured at right), Project Dance, The Broadway Blessing Choir and other distinguished guests will be among the performing artists at this year's celebration to ask God's blessing on the new Broadway Season.

Masterwork Productions, Inc. is a sponsor of this year event on Monday, Sept. 14 at 7:00 pm in the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.

In its 13th year, Broadway Blessing, an interfaith service, was founded by author and theater critic Retta Blaney, Broadway Blessing was conceived as a service of song and story designed to seek God's grace on the new theatre season.

This year’s event will include theatre reflections by actress Redgrave, Broadway veteran McVey singing “A Chance for Me” from the musical Amazing Grace: The True Story, singer/songwriter Hall performing “My Circle Of Friends” from her award-winning new CD
HALLWAYS: The Songs of Carol Hall and Project Dance, whose director Cheryl Cutlip recently was named one of Masterwork Productions "The Lights Are Bright on Broadway" award recipients.

The Broadway Blessing Choir under the direction of Bruce Neswick, director of music at the cathedral, will perform a number of Broadway hits followed by a “sing-a-long”.

The Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, dean, and The Rev. Thomas Miller, canon for liturgy & arts, from the Cathedral, will be joined by Rabbi Jill Hausman of Congregation Ezrath Israel / The Actors' Temple and The Rev. Mitties DeChamplain of St. Clement's Episcopal Church as participants in the 75-minute program.

Past participants have included Marian Seldes, Marcia Gay Harden, Frances Sternhagen, Boyd Gaines, Edward Herrmann, Anna Manahan, KT Sullivan, Mary-Mitchell Campbell, Tituss Burgess, Kathleen Chalfant, Billy Porter, Elizabeth Swados, Ken Prymus, Three Mo’ Tenors and Broadway Inspirational Voices.

Mr. Herrmann had this to say about it before making his second Broadway Blessing appearance: “It’s reassuring to know there are so many people out there you know that believe in God and want to take that part of their life and dedicate it to the theatre because theatre is a very spiritual endeavor. They come from every conceivable denomination, which I kind of like. It’s like a study in architecture of all these different buildings. They come from all kinds of disciplines and it’s just great to be among them. It’s an annual event, like with spring comes the first buds, now it’s fall and we’re here to bless our endeavors for the rest of the year and maybe some luck will come out of it, whether that’s internal or external.”

Broadway Blessing is free and open to people of all ages; reservations are not needed. For more information please visit http://www.stjohndivine.org/.

Broadway Blessing is made possible by the generous support of Masterwork Productions Inc., The Church of the Transfiguration (The Little Church Around the Corner), Creative Gifts Foundation, Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU) and other wonderful friends of the theater.

Episcopal Actors' Guild Plans Cruise, Other Events

Join Episcopal Actors' Guild members for lunch, prizes, music and dancing on a one-of-a-kind cruise around the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, and NY Harbor Saturday, Oct. 17.
Proceeds from the event will help fund the non-denominational group's Emergency Aid & Relif Program which helps performers in need.
The boat departs from Chelsea Pier 61 at noon (boarding begins at 11:30) and returns at 2.

A limited number of tickets are available by calling 212-685-2927 during business hours or by mailing a check to Episcopal Actors' Guild, 1 E. 29th St., New York, NY 10016.

A portion of the $70 ticket price is a tax deductible contribution to the Guild.

Upcoming Events (also benefiting the Emergency Aid & Relief Program :

"Carry On"
A Night with Jim Dale
Wednesday, Sept. 9 at 7 pm
Guild Hal1 E. 29th St.

Get ready for hilarity, hijinks, and more as Academy Award Nominee and Grammy Award Winner Jim Dale presents an evening celebrating the legacy of the "Carry On" films. Using a special multi-media presentation, long-time "Carry On" actor Jim Dale (who doubles as the narrator for the Harry Potter audio books) will give his audience a front-row seat into the British comic institution that was "Carry On."

Thursday, Oct. 1 at 7pm
Guild Hall, 1 E. 29th St.

The show that always features "something for everyone" is back for another season of magical singers, hilarious comics, graceful dancers, and more!
Hosted by Guild Hall Resident Comedians Karen & Matt

$10 Suggested Donation
Wine and Refreshments Will be Served
To RSVP for these events, call 212-685-2927 or email matt@actorsguild.org

Anita Renfroe has Busy September

Christian commedian Anita Renfroe is featured in the September issues of Reader's Digest and Woman's Day magazines.

The author's latest book, "Don't Say I didn't Warn You: Kids, Carbs and the Coming Hormonal Apocolypse" is due out Sept,. 29. We'll have a review of the book on this site that day, so check back!

Join Artists on the 'Stoop' Sept. 19

The Stoop, a new music venue in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen in New York City, will kick off its second season with a night of bluegrass, country, rock, and soul. Award-winning Twin-Cities based ensemble Erik Brandt & The Urban Hillbilly Quartet (UHQ) will headline at the Sept. 19 event.

UHQ offers an eclectic mix of musical styles, blending fiddle, electric guitar, accordion, bass, and more. Pioneer Press’ Jim Walsh has hailed UHQ as, “ St. Paul ’s fiercest fiddle-fueled foursome” while Rick Mason of City Pages describes The Urban Hillbilly Quartet as, “fervent eclectics, liable to wander into funk, Arabic, or Irish music at the drop of a hi-hat.”

Noah Riemer, a founding member of Ticklepenny Corner and drummer of The Urban Hillbilly Quartet, will kick off the evening followed by an appearance by NYC’s own Joely Pittman, a soulful singer/songwriter recognized for her collaborations with Brooklyn-based artist, Zach Williams.

The event will be emceed by Chris MacIntosh (a.k.a. Grandfather Rock) of WCWP Radio. Doors open at 7:30 pm., and showtime is at 8pm. While the concert is free, The Stoop will be accepting suggested donations of $12. Receive a free gift with the full suggested cover.

The Stoop venue and concert series is presented by Music Forum of Church For All Nations, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. Music Forum of Church for All Nations is sponsoring the series and providing the venue as a contribution to the cultural and spiritual life of Hell's Kitchen. For more information call(212) 333-5583 or visit www.TheStoopNY.com.

National Worship Leader Conference Adds Regional Events

2010 marks the first National Worship Leaders regional conferences. The conferences offer an opportunity to gather together in order to encounter the living God. Worship leaders can challenge each other to delve deeply in the art of devotion and leading the sung prayers of their congregation. The theme is "Sing a New Song!"
Registration is open. Find more information here.

NWLC 2010 National Events:
March 16-18, 2010
Northern California
Dr. Leonard Sweet

June 15-17, 2010
NWLC Southwest
Albuquerque, NM
Dr. Leonard Sweet
Israel Houghton
Skip Heitzig

July 19-22, 2010
NWLC 2010
Kansas City, KS October 2010
Louie Giglio
Chris Tomlin
Israel Houghton

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Count Your Blessings, One By One and Every Day

By Lauren Yarger
We all know we're supposed to stay positive, to lean on God in the midst of adversity, but sometimes knowing that and doing it are two different things.

No matter where we are in our journey with God, sometimes we find ourselves in a dark place. Some years ago, I was in that pit. Circumstances seemed to be raging against me and my family. I can look back now and see it as one of the more aggressive attacks against my faith by the enemy, but at the time, no amount of "head knowledge" about spiritual warfare or words of wisdom about trusting the Lord seemed to peel back the darkness surrounding me. It wasn't a question of faith, for I never doubted God or who he was. I just couldn't get to him, it seemed, through all the disappointments, deaths, illnesses, betrayals, financial losses and other circumstances that were framing the pit around me.

My prayer life became quiet. God knew how I felt and was allowing the avalanche of negative circumstances, so there didn't seem much point to reiterating my thoughts. Probably because he missed hearing from me, he directed me to 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for
this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus

I knew there were things in my life for which I should be grateful, but which had been obliterated by the constant attention-stealing negatives. I made a promise to the Lord to find at least one thing for which I could give thanks each day, and bought a journal in which to record them, because I knew it would be easy to forget.

Some days, it felt like I was scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with something. "A roof over our heads" or "when I turned the key in the ignition, the car started" would be all I could find to record. On the darkest days, and there were several, the entry read "I'm still here."

Eventually, I began to see a pattern. When forced to look for positives, I recognized parts of my life for which I'd never really given a lot of thanks. A roof over my head truly was something for which to be grateful. How many people in this country alone wouldn't have been able to come up with that item? A lot. Simple things, like the fact that my husband had a job, that my son sings in the shower, that my daughter smiles while watching the Weather Channel, that we had wood for a fire, that my home is full of books to read and a myriad of previously taken-for-granted things came to mind and filled the pages of that notebook.

Glancing through the pages now, I see not so much a tribute to God's provision, which it is, but a daily step in obedience to follow God and to refuse to succumb to the attack of the enemy, who is just as committed on a daily basis, to cause me to doubt and to lose faith.

If you're in the pit, or afraid you are heading into it because religion or people, the church or just life has failed you, I encourage you to start your own book of thanks. You won't regret it. And along the way, take encouragement from an old hymn. As Robert J. Morgan notes in his book "Then Sings My Soul" while commenting on the hymn "Count Your Blessings," Martin Luther wrote:

"The greater God's gifts and works, the less are they regarded. The highest and most precious treasure we receive of God is, that we can speak, hear, see, etc.; but how few acknowledge these as God's special gifts, much less give God thanks for them. The world highly esteems riches, honor, power, and other things of less value, which soon vanish away, but a blind man, if in his right wits, would willingly exchange all these for sight."

Count Your Blessings
By Johnson Oatman, Jr.
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings,
name them one by one, Count your blessings,
see what God hath done! Count your blessings,
name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

Count your blessings,
name them one by one, Count your blessings,
see what God hath done! Count your blessings,
name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings.
Wealth can never buy your reward in heaven,
nor your home on high.

Count your blessings,
name them one by one, Count your blessings,
see what God hath done! Count your blessings,
name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Count your blessings,
name them one by one, Count your blessings,
see what God hath done! Count your blessings,
name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Review: Broadway Underground

Broadway Underground
A Raw, Spontaneous Celebration of the Arts
Hip hop, rap, jazz, ballads, tap and a lot of talented performers enjoying themselves converged recently on stage at BB King’s in New York to present Broadway Underground, a presentation starring Jared Grimes and DeWitt Fleming.

Produced by Grimes and Cheryl Cutlip, founder of the Times Square based dance ministry Project Dance, the evening is billed as a “blast from the past phenomenon” restoring the spirit of entertainment.

The recent show, inspired by performers who spontaneously entertain in Broadway’s underground, the subway, also featured BU Band, Tadah Dance Company and vocalist Annaleigh Ashford. After a two hour program, featuring several numbers choreographed by Grimes, audience members were invited to join the performers on stage for an open session.

Two video screens on either side of the stage provided views of the action, including the fancy footwork not readily visible to those seated at tables further from the stage. Audience members ranging from the young to the not-so-young enjoyed the burst of raw energy and joy on the stage.

The show is presented periodically. Check back here and we’ll list details of the next show.

--Lauren Yarger
Christians might also like to know:
• Part of the room in which the show is presented at BB King’s contains a bar where folks gather behind the cabaret tables. Though there are ties to Christians and Christian organizations, the evening does not include an overt “Christian message.” The content is appropriate for all ages.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Book Review: 'The Friends We Keep' by Sarah Zacharias Davis

A Book Like Friendships Can Be a Little Disappointing...
By Lauren Yarger
Knowing personally the intricacies of relationships and how difficult it is to keep friends in these "all-about-me" days, I read with interest Sarah Zacharias Davis' new book "The Friends We Keep: A Woman's Quest for the Soul of Friendship (2009 Waterbrook Press).

After a few chapters, I had the uncomfortable feeling of being let down, sort of like we too often are in friendships, as Davis pontificated in an officious and distant tone about friendship, mostly in an impersonal way, using examples from relationships and situations from movies, television shows and literature. Just as I was beginning to wonder whether she had any personal friendships from which to glean some insights, a personalized sort of diary entry appeared. A number of these dotted the pages as I read on, but it wasn't until about half way through the book that I realized they weren't the author's personal accounts, but excerpts from the works of other women. They're not attributed on the pages where they appear, but are catalogued in the back of the book in a notes section which proves less than helpful when trying to match up the quote with the source.

I plodded on to discover more evidence of how women (including Davis herself, finally) face obstacles. In truth, the book is more like a thesis about this topic, rather than the words of wisdom about how to overcome them for which I'd been hoping, but there are some examples from the bible and Christ's life. If you're game, you can find out some less-than-shocking conclusions like:
• “The truth is, at some time we all feel jealousy.”
• “The concept of a best friend is not so much about favorites … Perhaps it is really about belonging.”
• “One must accept them (relationships) for what they are here and now, within their limits.”

Davis offers a short discussion guide in the back with a lot of questions that might get some conversations started, but which, like the book, don’t offer any answers. Somehow this book and I just didn’t hit it off.


Book Notes: 40-Minute Bible Studies by Kay Arthur

40 Minute Bible Studies

The 40 Minute Bible Study series from beloved Bible teacher Kay Arthur and the teaching staff of Precept Ministries tackles important issues in brief, easy-to-grasp lessons you can use personally or for small-group discussion. Each book in the series includes six 40-minute studies designed to draw you into God’s Word through basic inductive Bible study. There are 16 titles in the series, with topics ranging from fasting and forgiveness to prayer and worship. With no homework required, everyone in the group can work through the lesson together at the same time. Let these respected Bible teachers lead you in a study that will transform your thinking—and your life.

Kay Arthur, executive vice president and co-founder of Precept Ministries International has worked with her teaching staff to create the powerful 40-Minute Bible Studies series. Kay is known around the world as a Bible teacher, author, conference speaker, and host of national radio and television programs.

Titles Include:

•The Essentials of Effective Prayer
•Being a Disciple: Counting the Cost
•Building a Marriage That Really Works
•Discovering What the Future Holds
•Forgiveness: Breaking the Power of the Past
•Having a Real Relationship with God
•How Do You Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk?
•Living a Life of Real Worship
•How to Make Choices You Won’t Regret
•Living Victoriously in Difficult Times
•Money & Possessions: The Quest for Contentment
•Rising to the Call of Leadership
•How Do You Know God’s Your Father?
•Key Principles of Biblical Fasting
•A Man’s Strategy for Conquering Temptation
•What Does the Bible Say About Sex?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Gifted Worship Leaders are a Gift Themselves

Delirious. Visit their site at
By Lauren Yarger
If you never have had an opportunity to worship in a service led by a gifted worship leader, you'll probably not relate to my reflections on experiences during the Joyce Meyer conference held last week in Hershey, PA.

The Christian Rock band Delirious?, specifically lead singer Martin Smith, lead the musical part of worship. Apart from being led in an excellent opportunity to praise and worship God, I came away impressed again, by what a difference a gifted worship leader can make when it comes to corporate worship.

I attend a lot of different services, all over the country, and have enjoyed different styles of worship from liturgical with organ to rocking out with electric guitars, drums and bass, so I'm not picky. What makes the service meaningful, and indeed a service, rather than a show, is the leadership. It's not how many new songs the band can wow us with or how well the band plays or the singers sing, although, in some cases, singers who shouldn't be allowed to do solos or sing outside of their bathroom showers (for some reason I don't hear as many bad musicians)too often find themselves (or plant themselves) on the platform and really can detract from the worship experience. I can hear a flat note a mile away, and worst of all are the singers who get just under a note. They're not quite on it, but they think they are. In these cases, I focus on the pain in my central nervous system and how to cover my ears without appearing rude, rather than the King whom I've come to worship.

That wasn't the case with Delirious? who rocked the place out, but with a goal of service, with a purpose of setting up the message and with an attitude of humility. Smith often stopped vocalizing, encouraging the congregation to sing the words. He prayed -- not in the manner I have seen so often in contemporary churches, where the leader prays some sort of rehearsed prayer while music continues playing in the background -- but silently, stopping in the middle of a number to go down on his knees. I would venture to guess that leaders more concerned about "performing" would never think of giving up an opportunity to sing every word of every song.

And because I notice these things more than than the average member of a congregation (we work to help train and equip worship teams, after all) I really enjoyed watching the group simply vanish after the musical portion of worship to usher in the teaching. It really was subtle. Smith unobtrusively walked backwards upstage when Meyer walked downstage to take her place at the pulpit. There was no big guitar solo to finish out the set, no applause for the great "concert," no transition of any kind, really, from worship to worship and teaching. And an observer could notice later that the worship band had somehow made their way unnoticed into seats and were listening to the teaching (an example I would suggest worth emulating to worship bands who retire instead to some sort of private "green room" area during the service so they don't have to interact with the "ordinary" folks). Just as unperceived was their return to the stage to finish the service with more music.

It was an example of gifted people, returning the gift to God, as well as to me personally. As thousands of us sang "Majesty, majesty, you're grace has found me just as I am, empty handed, but alive in your hands," I stopped, overwhelmed and awed by his majesty and that fact that he was there with us. I came away knowing I had met with the God of the universe; that he had spoken to me. I didn't come away thinking, "Gee, the band rocked." And that was the gift of a worship leader after God's own heart.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lamb's Players Theatre Announces Season

Producing Artistic Director Robert Smyth has announced Lamb’s Players Theatre’s 2010 Coronado Season. The lineup will begin in February with An Inspector Calls, J.B. Priestley’s compelling tale of human connection and moral responsibility. It will continue with Norman Corwin’s riveting look at the Lincoln-Douglas debates, The Rivalry, Mary Chase’s endearing classic comedy Harvey, Jon Lorenz and Colleen Kollar Smith’s musical journey through the 80s, Mix Tape, and will conclude with the world premiere of Dennis Hassell’s The Glory Man, about Clarence Jordan and the founding of Koinonia Farm, a racially-integrated religious community in the deep South of the 1940s, '50s and '60s.

Watch Erica Lane's Reality Show 'Inspired Ambition'

Insired Ambition is a television series that follows Masterwork Productions artist Erica Lane as she takes her shot as an artist in the Christian music industry.

Ever want to know what it is like to try for your big break? The struggles, frustrations, joys and triumphs that take place? Well, look no further.

Told from the perspective of an ex-school teacher who left the comfort zone of the classroom for the trials and testing of the music industry, Inspired Amition reminds us that life is full of obstacles, but that anything is possible through Christ who strengthens us. The series will be available on DVD Aug. 11. Join the Facebook page here.

A selfless soul, Erica remains true to her heart as she seamlessly combines her ministry with her artistry in this captivating series. Each of the episodes features a different part of her journey.

The reality style series produced by Cloud Ten Pictures features 13 episodes that are each 30 minutes in length. The footage was shot across the United States between August 2007 and November 2008. Produced by the Saylors Brothers and directed by award winning filmmaker Kyle Saylors, this series is something every music fan will enjoy.

During the journey, Erica is blessed to have one on one time with top music artists and others involved in Christian media, ministry and music.

Included in the 13 episode series are interviews with: John Schlitt (Petra), EverLife, PID rapper Fred Lynch, Family Force 5, Michael Tait (DC Talk, Newsboys), Sandi Patty, Grits, Eric Whitacre, Mark Shultz, Bebo Norman, Dennis Jernigan.

For more information about Erica and her music, go to http://www.ericalanemusic.com. Sign up for her newsletter at http://ericalanemusic.net63.net/ and get free downloads of her music!

To book Erica, contact us at masterworkproductions@yahoo.com.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Christian Arts News from Chicago Dramatists, MasterWorks Festival

Script Reading
If you're in the Chicago area, drop by Chicago Dramatists on West Chicago Avenue at 2pm this Saturday, Aug. 8, where a script by Michael Leathers, "The One That Got Away," will be one of six featured in a 10-minute play workshop as part of a series of staged readings and discussions.

The script was one of the top 20 scripts in the annual Capistrano playwrighting festival sponsored by Camino Real Playhouse in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. The 10-minute drama is about a college student preparing for a fishing trip to honor the memory of his grandfather and how those plans affect his friend and a young waiter.

Michael's a terrific writer and offers a number of sketches at his website http://rileysdiner.com/. A member of The Dramatists Guild of America, Michael has worked for more than 20 years as a professional writer, journalist and communicator. He is a four-time winner in the Christians in Theatre Arts' annual sketch-writing contest.

MasterWorks Fetsival
(not affiliated with Masterwork Productions, Inc-- this is a performing arts camp for kids. Rich directs the drama portion)

By Rich Swingle
We had an amazing month at the MasterWorks Festival!
Ken Wales (far right), producer of Amazing Grace, Christy, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the original Pink Panther films, among many others, met with most of our students to help them see how their unique giftings can help them fit into the entertainment industry. This was his fourth year, and the reason he didn't get to every student this year was because he was hard at work on another film he hopes to shoot in Winona Lake, just before MasterWorks.

John Kirby (next to Ken), acting coach on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Count of Monte Cristo, Déjà Vu and about 20 others, shared about his work as director of The Word of Promise: Next Generation and directed us in Our Town. People were saying our production was better than renditions they'd seen at Notre Dame University, New York and London! One faculty member attended at least two performances and told me that the third act of the play got him thinking about eternity years ago. That was what started him on a journey toward Christ, and we're confident our four performances planted and watered a lot of seeds.

Bev Holloway, casting director for Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, The Ultimate Gift, An American Carol, and about 30 others, did a casting session with our students, and some of the roles they read are for two upcoming films! A man who lives in the community came up to me with tears in his eyes and shared that he's always enjoyed MasterWorks, but when he attended Bev's workshop and watched her giving direction and the students taking that direction and instantly making great adjustments, it finally dawned on him: MasterWorks is really training up the next generation of professional artists!

Patricia Mauceri (center), called us the week before she arrived, saying that she'd been given a script she couldn't perform. She made rewrites, but they were refused, and the role was recast. Her bold stance was a great witness to our students.

All four of them participated in one of two panel discussions, set up to answer questions the students had. Both panels were recorded for Romanian radio by one of our students, Krisztina Fekete, far right in the photo below.

This panel featured (from left to right), myself, Kohli Hessler Calhoun (dialect coach at NYU and the Stella Adler Studio, and our first master class instructor who attended the program!), Susan Sommerville Brown, and Harvey Johnson.

I was so thrilled with all that Harvey, Susie and Kohli brought, not only to this session, but to each one-on-one and class session they had with our students. The level of artistic and spiritual growth that was achieved because of their efforts is mind-boggling.

The only master class artist who wasn't around during a panel was Mac Nelson. He shared stories from his work with Liz Taylor and Jerry Lewis, from his most recent book, Memoirs of a Hollywood Adventure. He also shared from his first book, Waiting for my Fingers, about how he was healed from near-paralysis of both arms through surgery and the Lord. After the surgery he only had one note in his vocal register, but during a faculty recital he sang with his full range and tap-danced, swinging both arms with full-strength, to the Glory of God!

One of the spiritual highlights of the festival was when Joyce, my bride, led our students in a foot-washing. After we finished, the presence of the Lord was so palpable that I didn't want to lead them in anything. I just said, "Do whatever you want to do." They chose to wash each other's feet.

By the end of the month, one of our students asked to be baptized. Since Joyce is an ordained minister, we made plans. Another student had been taking baptism classes but had never been able to follow through to actually being baptized. She was delighted to do it with the close friends she'd made over the month. We went down to Winona Lake, the site of our festival, before church on Sunday. Their parents read scripture and prayed over each of them. Joyce baptized them officially, and then I got to dunk them. As we were walking off the dock singing, "Down To The River To Pray," Joyce yelled, "We've got another one!" The friend of one of our students was so moved by the service he asked to be baptized, too.

Photos from top to bottom by Nathan Nesbitt, Rich Swingle, Bernie Bernhardt (last two).

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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