Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Early Peek at Broadway's Godspell Revival

I was invited to a press preview yesterday of a rehearsal for the upcoming Broadway revival of Godspell (scheduled to open Nov. 7 at Circle in the Square Theatre. Previews begin Oct. 13).

Composer Stephen Schwartz, director Danile Goldstein (who helmed a production of Godspell at the Paper Mill Playhouse), choreographer Christopher Gattelli and the cast (featuring TV actor Hunter Parrish as Jesus) were on hand to present three numbers from the show (Schwartz was hearing them, and arrangements by Michael Holland for the first time).

The young cast, selected from more than 700 auditions over six months, according to Goldstein, energetically presented "Bless the Lord," (video below featuring Lindsay Mendez) "All Good Gifts" (video above, featuring Telly Leung) and a new depiction of the telling of the Good Samaritan, (pictured below) which creatively uses a ladder, some newspaper and a drum. (This number actually was written by cast member Celisse Henderson as her audition piece for the musical.)

Producer Ken Davenport was on hand and promised that you haven't seen Godspell until you have seen this production. Discounted tickets are available by cliking here for our Givenik affiliate.
--Lauren Yarger

Hunter Parrish
Daniel Goldstein and Christopher Gattelli
Stephen Schwartz
The Good Samaritan

Christian Arts News Briefs

Be in the Know!

Registration for the Christians in Theatre Arts Secondary School Theatre Festival is now open. This event, Jan. 27-28 in Greenville, SC, will include competitions in several categories, interaction with hundreds of other Christian theatre artists, auditions and interviews with college theatre representatives, and workshops with renowned actors, dancers, composers, producers and more. www.cita.org

Hollywood Prayer Network announces Oct. 6th is the first ever, collaborative friend/fund raiser with other ministries. http://www.hollywoodprayernetwork.org/

Anita Renfroe has announced fall tour dates:

Art House America 20th Anniversary Benefit Celebrations ($100/ticket) Friday, Oct. 28 and Saturday, Oct. 29, 7 to 10 pm at The Art House in Nashville. Choose one evening, as both nights are identical. Each benefit celebration will be hosted by Charlie Peacock and Andi Ashworth — featuring film, Art House stories, guest speakers, and music entertainment provided by Sara Groves, Charlie Peacock, Matthew Perryman Jones, Ruby Amanfu and special guests. Dessert and beverages will be served. http://www.eventbrite.com/event/2020945703

Mark Price Ministries has a newly updated website. He is available for a limited number of presentations. http://www.markprice.com/Home.html.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Richard Maltby, Jr. Speaks at 15th Broadway Blessing

Richard Maltby, Jr.
By Lauren Yarger
Those who are in the theater business are blessed, because they have an opportunity to discover what they have been put on the earth to do.

That was the message Monday from Broadway director/lyricist Richard Maltby, Jr. who spoke at the 15th annual Broadway Blessing held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. He encouraged those in the arts to take risks -- "it's the invention that it's all about," he said. "If you are not taking a chance, you're not doing anything worth doing."
Natalie Toro, Daniel Beckwith conducting the choir.
The award-winning Broadway veteran of Fosse, Miss Saigon and Ain't Misbehavin' among others, defined theater as "the human spirit reacting to life and creating a story," and urged those who are in the business to realize that they are living in a golden age.
The inter-faith service also featured Natalie Toro (most recently of A Tale of Two Cities) singing "Where is it Written?" from Yentl, backed by the Broadway Blessing Choir, which also performed a medley of Broadway songs under the musical direction of Daniel Beckwith, assisting organist at St. John the Divine.
Retta Blaney and Lauren Yarger,
executive director of Masterwork Productions, Inc.
Project Dance performed to "Amazing Grace" by Bel Air Presbyterian Worship Team with choreography by Amanda Brewster and Tony Haris performed "I'll Carry You" by Phil Hall (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Matthew Passion), a song he wrote to commemorate the Blessing's 15th anniversary.
Rabbi Jill Hausman of the Actors' Temple sang "If I Can Stop My Heart from Breaking" (by Richard Hagemen with words by Emily Dickinson). She, the Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, dean of the cathedral, and The Rev. Canon Thomas Miller, canon for liturgy and the arts at the cathedral, officiated at the service.

Retta Blaney, producer of the event, also received a 2011 The Lights are Bright on Broadway Award, presented by Masterwork Productions., Inc. A reception featuring a variety of mouthwatering refreshments provided by the cathedral's Trustees and Society of Regents Members followed.

9/11 Part Two -- In the City

Going to the city to observe the 10th anniversary gave me closure. On Friday, I covered an event where Broadway casts gathered to sing "New York, New York." It was nice to see the flag flying in Times Square. Operatic Daniel Rodrigues sang a rousing rendition of "God Bless America."
Bebe Neuwirth and Brian Stokes mitchell leads casts of Broadway shows in a rousing rendition of New York New York.
Ben Vereen and some of New York's firefighters.
Daniel Rodrigues, who sang "God Bless America."

On Saturday, I participated in the Hand-in-Hand event, where thousands of people joined hands around the waterfront at Battery Park to remember those lost. I joined hands with a woman who had been working on wall Street 10 years ago and who had a front row seat to witness the planes striking the Twin Towers. The visions of people jumping to their deaths will haunt her forever. Looking out at the Statue of Liberty, we were able to share our grief and join hands for those who no longer can.

Sunday, I joined crowds at Ground Zero while the official ceremonies took place. Pedestrian traffic was limited by barricades, and I was stopped for the presidential motorcades. I attended service at Trinity Wall Street, where the message was "Remember to Love," given by The Rev. Dr. James Herbert Cooper. Cooper, who had been pastoring in Florida during the attacks, shared a personal story about families there who were touched by the tragedy. One family lost a daughter in the towers and her remains still have not been recovered. Her mother told Cooper she was glad when Cooper was named rector of Trinity Wall Street, because she believes her daughters ashes rest in the church yard.
The choir perfomed a very stirring renditon of "Amazing Grace." Isn't this hymn just perfect for every occasion, perhaps because of the simple truth of its message? When I left the service, the reading of the names was just concluding. The buildings going up at the site rise up from the pit and challenge us to look to the heavens, whence cometh our help.

The world has changed a lot in the last 10 years. God remains the same.
-- Lauren Yarger

Friday, September 9, 2011

9/11 Anniversary Part 1-- Getting into the City

This is the first year since the attack on the World Trade Center that I will be in the city for Sept. 11. Many years, a river of tears and lots of healing, thanks to a gracious and loving God, have passed since that fateful day, and this is the first time I have felt that I might be able to deal emotionally with being here. It also happens to be the 10th anniversary, so there are lots of activities planned to commemorate the event.

Just as I was heading into the city this morning officials announced they are investigating a credible terrorist threat against the city (and/or Washington, DC), possibly with a car bomb.

I avoided areas flooding in Connecticut and bypassed the George Washington Bridge and the tunnels, where traffic was snarled. Increased police presence was being reported at the bridges and tunnels as well as the train stations. Honestly, there always is a police presence in New York. Since 9/11 New Yorkers all have a heightened sense that there still is a threat, but that's part of the reality of living and working in the world's number #1 city. Those who hate America and what it stands for target the cities which most exemplify the nation's ideals and success. So no one here appears to be any more concerned about safety today than any other day. We're always concerned about it.

It is kind of fun watching the tourists stop and gape when they see a show of law enforcement. Those NY cops are impressive and reassuring (and truth be told, the biggest threat to my personal safety this morning came from tourists not watching where they were going.)

Off this afternoon to cover a special concert by the Broadway community to mark the anniversary of the attacks. Stay tuned.
--Lauren Yarger

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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