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Life Upon The Sacred Stage

Life Upon The Sacred Stage
Featuring news, reviews and insights into the worlds of faith and theatre.
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Articles

Evita
2008-04-08 16:52:00
This really is a good musical. I had only seen it once before, and that was the original London production in 1982, although I’ve listened to the American recording with Patti and Mandy many, many times over the years. The music and the story are involving and, as performed by a national touring company Sunday at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts, make for a great theatrical experience. Malia Tippets was a beautiful-voiced Evita and Omar Lopez-Cepero was compelling as Che, the Argentine rebel who narrates the story, based on the life of Eva Peron, the charismatic, ambitious and often ruthless wife of Argentine dictator Juan Peron, who was well-portrayed by Philip Peterson. The story, as I’m sure you know, follows Eva’s single-minded drive to overcome her humble beginnings, transforming herself into an actress before setting her sights on Peron, advancing his career and securing for herself the role of first lady of Argentina. Hiding her duplicitous dealing ...
I am the gate.
2008-04-07 16:43:00
The Gospel reading for Sunday is John 10:1-10 Jesus said, "Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers." Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So again Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and k...
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A prayer
2008-04-06 16:27:00
Lord,Help me to be fully presentin this world of pain and beauty, in this sea of hope.Open my mind and heartto new experiences of Your love in quiet reflectionand in communion with others.For it is in Your presencethat we discover our authentic voices,a chorus singing out for peace, justiceand healing in Christ.Amen.--from the Sisters of Charity of New York
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Gypsy
2008-04-05 18:54:00
I got chills. Patti LuPone as Moma Rose, especially in the final number, is so powerful she’s almost frightening. I always knew she was a gifted singer and actress, but in this role she gets to prove it more emphatically than ever. She’s astonishing. In Patti’s hands, Rose is far more human than I’ve ever seen her. She’s not just that toxic mother we all know her to be. Patti makes her playful and gives her a sense of humor, which really come through when she sings “Small World” to Herbie (the always wonderful Boyd Gaines). It’s much easier here to see why he falls in love with her and puts up with so much. And I can believe that she does love him and her children, in her way. It’s just not the way in which they need to be loved. In contrast, I’ve never heard such darkness under the seemingly cheery “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” It’s clear any tenderness she has will always be smothered by her ruthlessness. Laura Benanti is also c...
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Some Gypsy history
2008-04-03 18:38:00
I am really looking forward to seeing Patti LuPone tonight in Gypsy . I love the music and the story. I’ve been reading Brian Kellow’s fabulous biography Ethel Merman: A Life, which offers fascinating information about the show and its original star. The role of Mama Rose was Ethel’s “most unusual and substantial project,” Kellow writes, explaining that although she had had a successful Broadway career for decades, “she had finally tired of playing blowsy, diamond-in-the-rough musical-comedy parts, and she was eager to show that she could do something of a serious nature.” Kellow’s book is a must-read for anyone planning to see the current revival -- as well as for any lover of Ethel Mermin, of course. It’s interesting to learn that Jerome Robbins, Ethel’s choice to direct and choreography Gypsy, had conceived of it as “a kind of colorful, affectionate tribute to the long-gone world of burlesque, and had even signed up a string of novelty and animal...
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The Power of Positive Thinking
2008-04-02 20:53:00
Today's Power Thought:Get Close to Positive People. Make a list of your friends to determine who is the most positive thinker among them and deliberately cultivate his society. Do not abandon your negative friends, but get closer to those with a positive point of view. Once you have absorbed their spirit, go back to your negative friends and give them your newly acquired thought pattern without taking on their negativism. No. 93 in a series of 100 Power Thoughts from The Power of Positive Thinking , the all-time inspirational best-selling book by Norman Vincent Peale. Courtesy of PealeCenterforPositiveThinking.com
THE SNEEZE
2008-04-02 20:32:00
Received this today from Merwin Goldsmith. I think you'll like it. They walked in tandem, each of the 92 students filing into the already crowded auditorium. With their rich maroon gowns flowing .. and the traditional caps, they looked almost as grown up as they felt. Dads swallowed hard behind broad smiles, and Moms freely brushed away tears. This class would NOT pray during the commencements -- not by choice, but because of a recent court ruling prohibiting it. The principal and several students were careful to stay within the guidelines allowed by the ruling. They gave inspirational and challenging speeches, but no one mentioned divine guidance and no one asked for blessings on the graduates or their families. The speeches were nice, but they were routine.....until the final speech received a standing ovation. A solitary student walked proudly to the microphone. He stood still and silent for just a moment, and then, it happened. All 92 students, every single one of them, su...
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Something You Did
2008-04-02 08:26:00
I had never seen a Willy Holtzman play, but I was familiar with the playwright’s name because my friend Merwin Goldsmith had appeared in a Holtzman play, Hearts, at Baltimore’s CENTERSTAGE last fall and said the experience had been one of the most profound of his career. He had never seen anything like the audience reactions and involvement.Now, having seen Primary Stage’s production of Something You Did at 59E59 Theaters, I also am impressed by Holtzman’s work. This edgy 90-minute drama, directed by Carolyn Cantor, about a former 60s radical had me completely involved every second. And 60s radicals are not usually a subject that would interest me.Much of the credit needs to go to the brilliant Joanna Gleason who plays Alison Moulton, the now middle-aged former activist who has spent three decades in jail for her part in the accidental killing of a police officer. Alison had been part of a group that planted a bomb in a locker at Grand Central Terminal as a protest again...
Casey Groves
2008-04-01 20:08:00
My good friend -- and one of my favorite actors -- Casey Groves has launched a new web site -- www.caseygroves.com. Check it out to learn about his impressive career. The photo here is Casey as "The Big Man” in Magis Theatre Company's 2007 Off Broadway Production of C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce.
Charlie Chaplin
2008-04-01 16:13:00
If you are anywhere near Palm Beach or Melbourne Florida this month, do whatever you can to see David Pomeranz’s performance of Charlie Chaplin. A Life. In Concert. I heard him perform selections of the show during his January concert at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Room and would love to see the whole thing.David, a multi-platinum, award-winning recording artist and composer, is a powerful performer, as anyone who was at Broadway Blessing 2005 knows. He also is a talented writer, as this show and his many songs prove.He’ll be performing Charlie Chaplin April 10--13 at the King Center for the Performing Arts in Melbourne -- (321) 242-2219 -- and April 16--17 at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in Palm Beach -- (561) 832-SHOW.For more about David visit www.davidpomeranz.com.
Finding a Job: 21st Century Style.
2008-04-01 14:07:00
It’s always so good to receive my quarterly essay from Kenny Moore. You can read past essays of his on this blog by typing his name into the search space to the upper left. Beloved Friends;Attached is my article "Finding a Job: 21st Century Style ." With the economy quickly sliding into a recession, it may prove to be prescient. Enjoy.As Spring gets ushered in, we are reminded of the cycle of Life, Death and Rebirth that surrounds our life journey. When confronting our own mortality, most of us side with Steven Wright: "I intend to live forever. So far, so good." May we take Spring's invitation to deepen our Interior Life to prepare for the journey ahead.KennyPS - visit my website (www.kennythemonk.com) to view some of my other writings, poems, web casts ... as well as upcoming speaking engagements.Finding a Job: 21st Century StyleBy Kenny Moore - www.kennythemonk.comThe economy is down. Outsourcing is up. Globalization is in. And college grads are soon to be let out. Thi...
A first-rate consultant
2008-04-01 00:09:00
Good news -- you now have the opportunity to benefit from an expert consultant. Harry Kavros is putting into practice what he learned from his foundation experience, along with his corporate and academic management experience to become a nonprofit management consultant. His specialty is strategic planning and organizational development, grant proposal writing and management coaching. Recent projects include:a feasibility study for expansiona strategic plan for marketingboard developmentmeasurements, and other areas of a newly formed educational nonprofitmanagement coaching for the executive director of a branch of a national nonprofit helping a small family foundation structure its grant giving for maximum social impact.You may contact him at (917) 575 4851.I can strongly vouch for his integrity.
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Two Great Stories - BOTH TRUE - and worth reading
2008-03-29 16:58:00
Merwin Goldsmith sent these lovely stories to me. They made me cry. Take the time to read them and you’ll see why.STORY NUMBER ONE Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago. Capone wasn't famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.Capone had a lawyer nicknamed 'Easy Eddie.' He was his lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, Eddie's skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time.To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but also, Eddie got special dividends. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago city block.Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him. Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He h...
More About: Reading , Stories , Great , True , Worth
Mother of the Year
2008-03-28 06:23:00
Dudley Stone sent me this lovely account. Bless their hearts! In a zoo in California , a mother tiger gave birth to a rare set of triplet tiger cubs. Unfortunately, due to complications in the pregnancy, the cubs were born prematurely and due to their tiny size, they died shortly after birth. The mother tiger, after recovering from the delivery, suddenly started to decline in health, although physically she was fine. The veterinarians felt that the loss of her litter had caused the tigress to fall into a depression. They decided that if the tigress could surrogate another mother's cubs, perhaps she would improve. After checking with many other zoos across the country, the depressing news was that there were no tiger cubs of the right age to introduce to the mourning mother. The veterinarians decided to try something that had never been tried in a zoo environment. Sometimes a mother of one species will take on the care of a different species. The only orphans that could be found q...
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Jeff Daniels
2008-03-27 15:23:00
Actor Jeff Daniels shares what he loves about the place he calls home — and why he chose to help his town make some big changes in his essay that appeared in Guideposts Magazine. Let me tell you about the small town where I come from: Chelsea, Michigan, population nearly 4,700, just west of Ann Arbor. It has one hospital, three elementary schools, a high school, a train depot, golf courses, several churches and a tree-lined Main Street. And right out of central casting there's the lumber company (where my folks still work), Zouzou's coffee shop, a hockey rink and a first-rate theater (more about that later). With its small-town atmosphere and solid Midwestern values, it's the sort of place where an actor with both promise and ambition grows up and then leaves, never to return…unless he's the grand marshal in the annual Fourth of July parade and his agent or studio needs to buff up his image.Well, I left Chelsea when I was 21 to try my luck in the theater, which was pretty go...
Tituss Burgess
2008-03-26 17:22:00
Anyone who was at Broadway Blessing last year knows what a gorgeous voice Tituss Burgess has. When he sang “Send Down Your Rain” it was clear he was no ordinary singer. It was so powerful and obviously not just coming from his vocal cords; it was coming from his heart and soul as well. Tituss, who currently plays Sebastian the Crab in the new Disney musical The Little Mermaid, is an active volunteer with Mary-Mitchell Campbell’s organization, ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty). He had spent time before BB in India with her working with orphans and singing to local villagers. Now you have the chance to hear Tituss in concert April 7 at the Metropolitan, performing songs by Duke Ellington and Jason Robert Brown, as well as tunes from his solo recording, "Here's to You." He’ll be backed by a six-piece band directed by Edges co-creator Justin Paul. Back-up vocalists will include Kay Trinidad (The Little Mermaid) and Cassondra Kellam. Show time is 9:30 p.m. As ...
Liam Neeson
2008-03-25 19:34:00
I’m so glad Liam Neeson will be back on a New York stage for the Lincoln Center Festival this summer. I met Liam several years ago when he was doing The Crucible on Broadway. We sat in his dressing room and he shared with me the importance faith and prayer play in his life for my book Working on the Inside: The Spiritual Life Through the Eyes of Actors.This time he’ll be part of Gate/Beckett, presented by the Gate Theater of Dublin, comprising three short one-man Beckett works, playing July 16-27. Ralph Fiennes and Irish actor Barry McGovern will also be featured. Liam will be in Eh Joe. Originally written for television, the work has been adapted for the stage by Atom Egoyan, who will also direct. "Joe sits alone in a room, prodded into uncomfortable thought by Penelope Wilton's disembodied voice. A projected close-up of his face is all the tortured expression the audience needs to understand the pain of a memory explored," according to press notes.Also part of Gate/Beckett ...
Masterwork Productions
2008-03-25 18:46:00
Spring has arrived and there are some great opportunities to plant and grow your team's worship and drama talents. Masterwork Productions offers a wide selection of workshops that can be tailored to the needs of your church. Our presenters can teach a combination of workshops on a Saturday to create a day of learning, fellowship and fun-- all right at home for your whole team. Some of the workshops include: • Puppet Ministry• Choreography for the Non Dancer• Tech 101• Directing 101• How to Start and Build a Drama Team• Working with Youth in Drama• Leading Children in Worship• Acting Techniques• Vocal Sessions• Sketch Writing• Finding Your Calling/Discovering Your gifts• Story Telling/Monologues• Comedy as Outreach• How to Do a Dinner Theater or Outreach Event• Spiritual Aspects for Performing Arts Leaders•Stage Management• The ABC’s of the Worship Experience• Developing a Worship Flow• Communicating With Confidence• Thinking Big for Directo...
Marcia Gay Harden
2008-03-24 16:45:00
This essay by MARCIA GAY HARDEN appeared in Guideposts Magazine.Look up “struggling young actress” in the dictionary and you might see a picture of me, circa 1982. Rushing to open casting calls in between waiting tables, always worried about how to make the rent. Just about the only acting cliché I wasn’t fulfilling at the time was living in New York City. I was based in Washington, D.C., where I was waiting to get my Screen Actors Guild Union card. When I did, then I’d make the big move to NYC.It was an uncertain time in my life, but one thing I was certain of: Acting meant everything to me. From the first part I’d played in high school (in Up the Down Staircase, thanks for asking!), there was a quality about acting that made me feel in touch with something big and mysterious and meaningful…. It may sound funny, but the feeling I got when I was playing a role I connected with was that God was using me for something good. When I was blessed with a role I was really pass...
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The hope of spring
2008-03-24 16:39:00
O God,As creation springs to lifeduring this season of hope,we pray that your lightmay penetrate the darkest corners of our heart,and the saddest placesin our world.Be there to comfortour brothers and sisters in need,and inspire our courageto go forth and proclaimthe Good News of Easterin joyful word and deed. Amen.--from the Sisters of Charity of New York
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Easter blessings
2008-03-23 20:24:00
An Easter PrayerLord, The darkness of winterholds no power over me now,for my heart has come alivethrough Jesus’ Resurrection.May the Risen Christ sustain meon my journey of faith,guiding me to those placeswhere I will rejoice inYour loving light,as I join with others to sing Your praisesand live Your Wordon Easter and every day.Amen.-- from the Sisters of Charity of New YorkMy beloved fifth grade teacher, Sr. Mary Mark, went me some interesting information with her Easter card. It’s from America Online and explains why Easter is so early this year: “As you may know, Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, which is March 20. “This dating of Easter is based on the lunar calendar that Hebrew people used to identify Passover. This is why the date of Easter moves around our Roman calendar.“Based on the above, Easter can actually be one day earlier (March 22), but that is very rare.“Only the most elderly of our population (95 y...
More About: Blessings
Happy Easter
2008-03-22 20:43:00
 The Gospel readings for Easter are:   Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that ...
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Good Friday
2008-03-21 06:46:00
“Let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. --From the Good Friday service in The Book of Common Prayer
When the Heart Waits
2007-11-27 17:25:00
What does a theatre critic do during a Broadway shutdown? She reads a lot more, for one thing. I want to let you know about a book I’ve started reading. “When the Heart Waits” is a nonfiction book by Sue Monk Kidd whose novel “The Secret Life of Bees” is one of my favorite books. The subtitle of this one is “Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions,” and it was written before “Bees” and all its success.“Heart” is a healing book for those of us facing the challenges and joys of middle age. Maya Angelou said the 50s are when we become who we were meant to be and I believe it. But it’s not always easy, which is why this book is so helpful. Kidd writes about waiting as being the “missing link in the transformation process” and defines waiting as “the passionate and contemplative crucible in which new life and spiritual wholeness can be birthed.” In this “deep and beautiful work of soulmaking,” she shows us how to wait actively. I lov...
More About: The Heart
The Piano Teacher
2007-11-26 18:56:00
This is a disturbing play. I say that as a warning, not an advisement not to go. Playwright Julia Cho begins by creating what seems like a story of Mrs. K, a friendly but lonely retired piano teacher, but in time chillingly reveals the darkness that Mrs. K has been trying to ignore for 36 years.Elizabeth Franz is wonderful as Mrs. K, which is no surprise. When is Elizabeth Franz not wonderful? I last saw her in her Tony-winning performance as Linda Loman in “Death of a Salesman” opposite Brian Dennehy. In this play she breaks the fourth wall right from the start, addressing the audience as if we were her guests, even leaving the stage with a plate of cookies to offer people in the first rows. She chattily shares how she came to be a piano teacher and other details of her life and marriage. Soon, though, her sunny way fades and we see her loneliness, prompting her to call her former students to ask them to visit. The visits, however, will not be jolly. The students know t...
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Keep awake
2007-11-26 17:32:00
The Gospel reading for the first Sunday of Advent is Matthew 24:36-44 Jesus said to the disciples, "But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is com...
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A Child's Christmas in Wales
2007-11-25 21:47:00
Triangle Theatre at the Church of the Holy Trinity and Dudley Stone, artistic director, welcome you for Triangle Theatre's Christmas Show at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, in Draesel Hall, 88th Street between First and Second Avenues.  This is Triangle's Christmas gift to the parish, with readings, poems, carols, two short plays, and Dylan Thomas's "A Child's Christmas in Wales ," directed by Constance George. Performances by parish actors and all four members of Holy Trinity's clergy, followed by a Christmas Party. No charge. Please come to celebrate this parish-wide event. Children welcome. Bring friends.
Michelle LeBlanc
2007-11-23 22:45:00
Michelle LeBlanc is at it again. She’ll be singing on two Saturdays: Nov. 24 and Dec. 1 from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. with the Carmen Leggio Trio; Hiroshi Yamazaki on piano, and on bass, Jerry Bruno 11/24 and Bill Conway 12/1; Monteverde at Oldstone Manor; Bear Mountain Bridge Road; (Routes 202 and 6 West); Cortlandt Manor, NY 10567; Dining Reservations: 914-739-5000, Ext 1; http://www.monteverderestaurant.com. See my June 7 post for a review of her fabulous CD.
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Michele LaRue
2007-11-23 22:36:00
Just heard from Michele LaRue with two exciting bits of news. She’s started a web site -- michelelarue.com -- and signed with an agent -- Agents for the Arts (AFA), Carole Russo, 203 W. 23rd St., New York, NY  10011; 212-229-2562Michele and I go back more than a dozen years, to our days toiling away at “Back Stage,” the performing arts weekly. She always was an actress, playing the part of a journalist for awhile (doing it well, of course, because she’s a good actress), but now she’s full time doing what she’s supposed to be doing. She’s developed quite a few excellent one-woman shows:The Yellow WallpaperSomeone Must Wash the Dishes: An Anti-Suffrage MonologueEve's DiaryThe Rib Speaks OutPlaces, Please, Act One: Poems around and about theatresTales Well Told: turn-of-the-century American short storiesCheck out her site, and try to get to some of her performances.Break a leg, Michele!
Amazing Grace update
2007-11-20 21:33:00
I know a lot of people are interested in the new musical “Amazing Grace : The True Story.” (Oct. 17 posting). Here’s an update: Laurie Gayle Stephenson has been hired as a new cast member for the recording. She starred for two years as Christine in “The Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway, played opposite Michael Crawford for three years in “The Music of Andrew Lloyd Weber” and was in the original Broadway cast of the “The Secret Garden.”  She will be Mrs. Catlett, mother of Mary, the woman John Newton loves. Christopher Smith, who has written the book, music and lyrics for the show, is writing a new song for her with a female ensemble; the female ensemble will take a more prominent role with an additional scene. Chris has changed the nature of Mrs. Catlett and Mary's relationship to give their disagreement added pathos and therefore a more satisfying denouement. (Mrs. Catlett doesn’t approve of Newton and wants Mary to marry another man.)  Adam Jacobs and ...
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