Thursday, April 30, 2009

Memoirs of a Hollywood Adventure

I'm weeping like a blubbering idiot! I just finished reading Mac Nelson's Memoirs of a Hollywood Adventure. The last time I wept this hard while reading something was when I read the same conclusion to Mac's manuscript before it went to press.
Insert from March 2015: It just made the cover of Christian Filmworks Magazine, which also included an article on Phillip Telfer, who runs the Christian Worldview Film Festival!
You can order it at America Star Books and other online sources.

I met Mac when I first moved to New York City. The stories in his book are the ones that inspired me as I was first starting out as a professional actor. Mac's the best storyteller I've ever heard, and every time I introduce someone to Mac I beg him to tell one story after the next. Now they're all (well most of them are) in this fabulous book, and Mac's writing is even better than his storytelling! I found myself laughing or crying on almost every page.

Here's a great online review:

Yes, there are the requisite references to his personal experiences with the famous and the infamous--Was Jerry Lewis a "nice guy" or not, what was Roy Rogers really like, are Hollywood producers just like the movies portray them, and just who was that blood soaked young man Mac enountered running down the street the night a famous Hollywood murder took place? This book is fun to read as a true and fascinating tale of one young man's journey from backwater Missisippi to Tinseltown, What makes it special is that its more than just an account of what its like to land broke and alone on Hollywood Blvd and trying to make it BIG in the movies. It's also an insightful, heartwarming coming of age story--a journey of insight discovered and maturity found that results in the acheivement of a kind of spiritual Oscar--for "best human being". If you like stories about Hollywood, if you ever wondered what it would have been like if you had sought your big break in the movies, and especially if you are a young person planning a career in film you will want (strike that...you NEED) to read this book.
David Bloodgood
Orlando, FL

Fasting

Our church, Westchester Chapel, has been called to fast on Thursdays as we seek the Lord for spiritual, numerical and financial growth for the church. Our pattern is to break our fast together at Thirst.

A new believer asked why and how we should fast, which are excellent questions!

I found a great article by the late Dr. Bill Bright, who founded Campus Crusade for Christ: Your Personal Guide to Fasting and Prayer. He provides insights into the Biblical call to fasting, types of people who should not fast, and nutritional considerations.

I also highly recommend Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster (who used to pastor the church I attended in college). He deals with the full spectrum of spiritual disciplines, and has an excellent chapter dedicated to fasting.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The 39 Steps

Joyce and I were delighted by Broadway's The 39 Steps. It was four actors taking on 150 roles: my kind of play!

When I saw it in London's West End I bought a balcony seat, but saw an empty seat on the second row, center. At intermission I high-tailed it for the seat and made it before any others who wished to "upgrade." I relaxed throughout the intermission, but just as they were dimming the lights, the ticket holder for my seat was waiving her stub at me. I didn't have time to make it back to my seat in the balcony without missing something, so I grabbed the first free seat I saw. Unfortunately it was well under the balcony. This didn't prove to be problematic until the finale in which half of the action took place out of sight!

So I was delighted to see on Broadway the fun business that had been making people howl on the West End! When you book tickets, make sure you can see the whole stage.

For more on the play, visit my friends' reviews:

Paul Crozby: 'The 39 Steps' -- Broadway Review
Retta Blaney: The 39 Steps (This review was before the play moved to The Helen Hayes Theatre, where it will play through Sept 6)

You can watch the brilliant Hitchcock film that inspired the play for free on IMDb.com, but you'll miss the insightful commentary by Hitchcock scholar Marian Keane on the DVD.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

George Fox Journal

The journal for my alma mater, George Fox University, just ran an article on me: A Class Act.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hidden Truths

Mark Chang, who was one of the creators of Olympic Hero in China, our documentary on Eric Liddell, has created a seven minute film, which has been selected for competition.

It's a charming little film, which is a tribute to growing religious freedom in China.

To vote for it, visit TheDoorPost.com, sign up, search for "Hidden Truths", and before you watch it, click on "Vote Now" in the left column. You'll also need to vote for four other films for it to count.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Chasing Manet

I just saw Chasing Manet by Tina Howe. I took playwrighting from Tina while working on my masters in theatre at Hunter College in the late '90's. Tina was a delight. She'd already been nominated for the Tony, Obie, Pulitzer, etc., etc., but she never intimidated us. She was such fun--as is Chasing Manet.

I laughed; I wept; my spirit soared! My friend, Lauren Yarger, and I left so uplifted and energized. Lauren had heard Tina speak, saying that she wanted this play to fill a void: There are so few plays that address the needs of people in their later years. The play certainly addresses those needs, but as a fellow still in his 30s (for another five weeks), I was inspired! I came away so joy and hope-filled.

Lauren got me into the show because she's an Outer-Circle critic. Here's a link to her piece: Review: Chasing Manet.

Lauren and I have a common friend who also reviewed the play:

Retta Blaney at UpontheSacredStage.Blogspot.com

You should know there's quite a bit of language and sexual innuendo, though the later is there to highlight the fact that we keep our libido to the end.

Though she wrote Skin Deep in 2007, the most recent of Tina's published plays is Pride's Crossing, for which she was a finalist for a Pulitzer for the second time. Among her many other awards are an Obie for Distinguished playwriting, a Tony nomination for best Play, an Outer Circle Critics Award, a Rockefeller Grant, two N.E.A. Fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, the Sidney Kingsley Award, the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, two honorary degrees and the William Inge Award for Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A note from Joyce

Thanks to all of you who were praying for me while I was taking the National Counselor Exam on Sat., April 18. I felt the peace and feel very good about the test in general. I also feel "free" of school after three years, with no major assignments and only two weeks left to go.
Thank you all,
Joyce Swingle

Friday, April 17, 2009

Big test tomorrow

We're in Nyack, NY, for Joyce's Nat'l Counseling Exam tomorrow. Please lift her up as she takes it from 9-1 EST.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Great Gifts


I just received a couple of books from award-winning author, Joan Bauer, who I met at this year's Christopher Awards. The theme of the Christopher's is, "It's better to light one candle than to curse the darkness." Joan and filmmaker Ken Wales (far right in the photo) were both presenters at the awards ceremony: Joan for books and Ken for films.

Joan's book Hope Was Here was previously awarded the Christopher Award, along with the Newbery and other honors. Joan just learned that the State Department is translating the book into Russian. Her understanding is that it's the first time a novel has been translated for official public diplomacy.

The other book she gave us was Hudson Taylor on Spiritual Secrets, a 30-day devotional, which I'm looking forward to, since I'm reviving a monologue I created in which I portray Hudson Taylor.

Also in the photo are Joan's husband, Evan (far left), and Mac Nelson (between Evan and me), author of Waiting for My Fingers and Memoirs of a Hollywood Adventure.

You can see photos from the evening by clicking here.

One of the highlights of the evening was when Caroll Spinney shared a very touching story about how a father wrote to him to see if he would call his dying son as Big Bird, who he's played on Sesame Street for decades. Caroll did so, and after the call the boy said, "Big Bird called me! He’s my friend." And he closed his eyes. And he passed away. Caroll shared how the incident made him realize how important his words to children are.

Tonight on FOX 10 News

The MC for the Christopher Awards is Ernie Anastos, who said they'll be featured tonight on FOX 10 News.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

It's done!

My friends' son, who's 21 months old, saw our cross and said, "Cross! It's done."

He's ALIVE!

Happy Easter, everyone! We were delighted to find the Empire State Building still lit after its traditional midnight shutoff.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

SROx2

Both churches had to put out extra chairs for the Good Friday services in which I performed yesterday ( http://RichDrama.com/GoodFriday ).

At Bronx Bethany, where the service was designed to match the three hours in which Jesus hung on the cross, there were about 700 in attandance. The sanctuary only held 400, so the rest were watching on monitors downstairs or listening from outside. As a guest preacher said, it was "thumpin'!"

My favorite moment was when I was walking down a stairway when a little boy said, "You were Jesus!" I asked him and his four young friends if they had a relationship with Jesus. they said they didn't, so we took care of that on the spot...well, on the stairs.

If you've never committed your life to the Lord, this weekend is a great time to accept the free gift of Salvation that the Lord paid for so dearly: http://RichDrama.com/MyPassion .

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Give a great birthday present!

I help people sponsor kids through Compassion, but you don't need to wait until a performance! Wish this child "Happy Birthday" with a sponsorship!



To find out more about my connection to Compassion and/or to select a child by age, gender and/or region, click here.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Israel '99


This photo is of Joyce and I in Bethlahem. I found it while going through photos from our trips to Israel while getting the slides ready for Journey to the Garden on Good Friday (RichDrama.com/GoodFriday). I shared links to the pictures from our 2005 trip on this blog, but the first trip was in 1999. Here's a link to those photos: Israel '99.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Streets of New York

You never know what you'll see!

Two Good Friday Offerings


On Good Friday I'll be performing two works in two different churches near NYC.
At noon I'll be performing Journey to the Garden at Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene. The drama invites each audience member to become a disciple and travel with Jesus from the Last Supper to the Garden of Gethsemane and finally to Golgotha. Slides from Israel of the actual places these events are believed to have taken place are the backdrop of the greatest story ever told.


At 7pm, I'll portray the title role in Ragman at Westchester Chapel. For over 20 years Walter Wangerin's Ragman has been touching hearts with a message of healing and Hope.

The play has been translated into Spanish by Susan Blish and will be performed in both languages simultaneously.

Artwork from Hong Kong

From Artwork from Hong Kong

The last time I was in Hong Kong (08/08) I performed and taught at the International Christian School. Erik Melver's middle school class created artwork to commemorate the occasion. Visit the album to see more.