Family Secrets

Shhh.  It’s nobody’s business…stories of fauxpas, missteps and outrageous behavior!
January 19 – February 12, 2019

PRESS

THE PROGRAM

Material Adapted, Curated, and Produced by Ronda Spinak
Directed by Susan Morgenstern & Lisa Cirincione
South Bay Producer Liz Altman
Dramaturg Lisa Rosenbaum Literary Manager Suzanna Kaplan
Assistant Producer Barbara Koletsky Associate Producers Rose Ziff & Susie Yuré
Artistic Associate Daphna Shull Assistant Artistic Director Andrew Fromer

Welcome – JWT Artistic Director Ronda Spinak

My Secret Dysfunctional Family
Music and lyrics by Mike Himelstein. Performed by Ensemble.

Ham & Cheese Croissants and a Letter to God
Written by Alexander Nemser. Performed by Michael Naishtut and Debbie Kasper.

The First Time
Written by Farnaz Solomon. Performed by Niloo.

Zayde’s Legacy
Written by Maureen Rubin. Performed by Rosie Moss and Ensemble.

Sissy Boo
Written and performed by Debbie Kasper.

Double Admission – First appeared in The Jewish Journal
Written by Eli as told to Tabby Refael. Performed by Niloo.

What We Learned About Grandfather
Written by David Naude and Raoul Naude and adapted by Ronda Spinak.
Performed by Michael Naishtut.

Discovering My Dad
Written by Eve Lederman. Performed by Rosie Moss.

Shame
Written by Betty Goldstein. Performed by Niloo.

The Wicked Son
Written by Lisa Rosenbaum. Performed by Rosie Moss, Michael Naishtut and Niloo.

A Sister’s Secret
Written by Susan Morgenstern. Performed by Niloo and Ensemble.

The Magic of Authenticity
Written by Judy Carter. Performed by Debbie Kasper and Ensemble.

ARTIST BIOS

LIZ ALTMAN (South Bay Producer) wrote “Almost a Sacrifice,” previously performed at the JWT salon Unknown Stories of Biblical Proportions. Other credits include song lyrics for activities at the University of Michigan and the Dallas Bar Follies; and co-directing, co-writing, and performing in the annual SMU law school follies. JWT: Advisory board member and South Bay producer. Professional: vice president of a real estate company. Hobbies: tennis, art, and travel. Special love to her muse, Louis.

JUDY CARTER (Writer) At an early age, Judy discovered that the messes in her life made great comedy material, leading her to a career working as a headlining standup comic performing with Jerry Seinfeld, Prince, and others. As an author, Judy doesn’t like to brag, but she did write the Bible. No joke, she’s the author of The Comedy Bible (Simon & Schuster), touted by Oprah Winfrey as the book that can show you how to be funnier. Judy’s new book, The Message of You (St. Martin’s Press), shows how to find your signature life story and use it to inspire others. Judy’s message of using humor as a transformational tool has made her a sought-after international keynote speaker for Fortune 500 companies and the Jewish Federation, as well as a regular contributor to NPR’s All Things Considered, The Wall Street Journal and CNN. Watch videos at judycarter.com

LISA CIRINCIONE (Director) a proud JWT artist-in-residence, is thrilled to be working with this incredible team.  Lisa produced and stars in the short film Porcupine, which made its World Premiere at the Newport Beach Film Festival and has now played on screens around the globe. Lisa recently shot an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! with NBA Legend, Mr. Ron Artest, and can be seen in the comedy web-series, Mrs. Gary, for which she won Best Supporting Actress at The Los Angeles Web Festival. She received LA WEEKLY and LA Drama Critic’s Circle nominations for playing the role of Catherine in Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge at Pacific Resident Theatre. Lisa is a member of The Road Theatre Company and Pacific Resident Theatre and received her BFA in acting from the University of Southern California. Much love to her vibrant Sicilian Jewish family.  More at LisaCirincione.com.

ANDREW FROMER (Assistant Artistic Director), a Los Angeles native, grew up as an active member in the Jewish community through Stephen Wise Temple. He attended Windward School in Mar Vista, where his acting career began in plays and musicals. After completing his BFA in theater at UC Santa Barbara, and an exciting year of living in Israel, Andrew took a dive into filmmaking and has since branched into production by helping prepare for distribution two
feature films he has acted in: AMP Creative’s Highway to Havasu (dir. Jeff Janke) and Mockingbird Pictures’ The Sweet Life (dir. Rob Spera). Andrew also edits, directs, and is very excited to be coordinating this year’s iteration of NEXT @ The Braid, JWT’s Emerging Artists Fellowship. Find out more info at www.jewishwomenstheatre.org/next.

BETTY GOLDSTEIN (Writer) is well known in the storytelling circuit in Los Angeles and New York.  This is the third time a piece of hers has been performed by Jewish Women’s Theatre. Betty’s play, Tushy in the Sky, had a run at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks in 2018.  Her stories have appeared in Reader’s Digest’s The Best Life Stories and in What Was I Thinking? 58 Bad Boyfriend Stories. Betty regularly performs her original ghost stories for KCRW’s Masquerade Ball.  She also blogs on Huffington Post and is a Moth story slam winner.

MIKE HIMELSTEIN (Songwriter) has had more than 500 songs recorded by artists ranging from the Temptations, Al Jarreau, Stray Cats, the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Johnny Winter, and Joe Bonamassa to Julie Andrews, Mandy Moore, Dick Van Dyke, Martin Short, and William Shatner, among others. His songs have been featured in TV, films, and onstage in productions including Shrek (the Academy Award-winning movie and Broadway musical), Blades of Glory, Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, The Sopranos, Disney’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Special Agent Oso, Sheriff Callie’s Wild West, Jim Henson’s Sid the Science Kid, Dinosaur Train, and Splash & Bubbles. He has written several television theme songs and many songs for Disneyland Parks around the world. Mike is a three-time Emmy nominee, an Annie nominee, and the two-time winner of the Cynopsis Imagination Awards. He was a 2007 recipient of the ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Award for his hit song God’s Gift to the World.

DEBBIE KASPER (Actor/Writer), a two-time Emmy-nominated writer and award-winning comedian, has written for such seminal TV shows as Roseanne and The Rosie O’Donnell Show and has toured the country several times as a comedian. Her book of humorous personal essays, A Poke in the Eye with a Sharp Stick, is due out in 2019, and her new one-woman show is slated to open in New York this year as well.

CAROL KIRSH (SF Bay Producer) has worked, volunteered and served on boards for a range of social services agencies since receiving her BA and MSW from the University of Michigan.  She also spent 8 years in Hong Kong working as an executive search consultant for Russell Reynolds and Norman Broadbent, two leading international search firms. Carol produces Jewish Women’s Theater in the Bay Area, where she hosted its first “at home” salon in San Francisco in 2012. A native Floridian with family roots in Alabama, Carol has continued the diaspora, living much of her adult life outside of the continental United States, including Bali, Guam and Hawaii.

BARBARA KOLETSKY (Associate Producer) has most recently worked on the production side of Jewish Women’s Theatre. Prior to that, for three seasons she was responsible for catering.  Now Barbara is thrilled to be moving into stage management for JWT at The Braid.  Barbara is also the owner of RSVP Party Planning, where as an experienced party planner she has produced many events, specializing in charitable organizations but with many corporate and private clients as well. Barbara was born in New York and moved to California for a career in marketing and promotions for Polygram Records and Elektra Atlantic Corp. She regularly volunteers at the Grossman Burn Center with her service dog, Rodney.

EVE LEDERMAN (Writer) has told stories on stage in New York at the Players Club, the Bryant Park Reading Room, and the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times and her book Letters from My Sister was published by Skyhorse Publishing and Audible.  Eve’s play To Life is a semifinalist for the Eugene O’Neill Conference, a finalist for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education/Award of Excellence in Playwriting, and is shortlisted for the 92nd St. Y Development Lab.  Her play, Nothing But The Truth, was a finalist for the BBC’s International Playwriting Competition, the Urban Stages Development Program (NYC), Theatre Evolve New Works Festival (Chicago), and the Phoenix Theatre Festival of New American Theatre, among others. It will premiere in Canada with Post Productions in April. Eve’s work has been developed at the Barrow Group, Dixon Place, Theater for the New City, and T. Schreiber Studio.

SUSAN MORGENSTERN (Director/Writer) began directing in college by staging musical theatre concert readings while co-teaching American Musical Comedy with Tom Lehrer at UC Santa Cruz. She went on to teach and direct at the renowned Stage Door Manor performing arts camp in upstate New York.  In Los Angeles, for Theatre West, Susan has directed selections from David Ives’ All in the Timing; the musicals Just Too Cool, book by Mary Garripoli, music by Phil Orem; and Saturday Night at Grossinger’s, book by Stephen Cole, music by Claibe Richardson; and Barbara Nell Beery’s play, The Socialization of Ruthie Shapiro.  At the Falcon Theatre she directed Leap, by Arnold Margolin, Surviving Sex, by David Landsberg, and the hit comedy, The Psychic, by Sam Bobrick. Susan directed Happy Days, a New Musical, book by Garry Marshall, music/lyrics by Paul Williams, at Cabrillo Music Theatre.  She directed an extended-run production of Meryl Cohn’s comedy Reasons to Live at the Skylight Theatre.  In 2014, Susan began working as a consultant show director at Disneyland Parks and Resorts, Anaheim.  She has directed numerous JWT salon shows, and now happily holds a position as JWT’s Producing Director.

ROSIE MOSS (Actor) starred in Lifetime/A&E’s miniseries The Rookie, which is available on Lifetime’s digital platform MyLifetime.com. Rosie recently performed in JWT’s Guilty Parties and is excited to be back! She originated the role of Sarah Kaufman in the West Coast Jewish Theatre’s production of FUGU. Other theatre includes Macbethx5 (Odyssey), The Physicists (Sacred Fools), The Ascent (Blank Theatre), Sow & Weep (Helen Mills Theatre), and The Weavers (Wimberly Theatre). Film/TV: The Connors, Famous in Love, To Be King and Strangers.  BFA, Boston University. Keep up with Rosie at RosieMoss.com.

MICHAEL NAISHTUT (Actor) In NYC, Michael appeared at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Theatre for the New City, and the NY Public Theatre. In Florida he performed at EPCOT as well as in Scapino at the Riverside Theatre and in Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Florida Shakespeare Festival. In Japan, Michael performed regularly on television, radio, narration, and theater, including the solo show Defending the Caveman. In Los Angeles, he performed in Romeo and Juliet at the Met and in Lyman-The Musical at the El Portal. He was nominated for an acting ensemble Ovation award for the musical Memphis, has performed with The Second City, toured with Old Jews Telling Jokes, and can be heard narrating the novel The Arrow Catcher on Audibles.com. He has appeared in the TV shows Gene Simmons Family Jewels, Operation Repo, and 1000 Ways to Die. He is ecstatic to be making his Jewish Women’s Theatre debut.  

DAVID NAUDE (Writer) and RAOUL NAUDE (Writer) Twins David and Raoul Naude were born in Cape Town, South Africa, the sons of a surgeon father and a psychiatrist mother. At 10 years old, after their parents divorced, they moved, with their mother, older brother and younger sister, from South Africa to the United States. They first lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and then moved to Rochester, NY.  David studied sociology and English at the University of Richmond and then went to NYU Film School for graduate studies. Raoul studied at UC Berkeley, where he focused on social anthropology and film. Both David and Raoul hope to continue their grandfather’s legacy by focusing on projects that inspire people and show the power of the human spirit. They both live in Los Angeles, CA, and work in the film and television industry.

ALEXANDER NEMSER (Writer) has been published in The New York Times and The Paris Review and has performed internationally, from the Bowery Poetry Club in Manhattan to the Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka. His book, The Sacrifice of Abraham, was published by Bookieman in 2014, and his one-man show as a charlatan rabbi, Moshe Feldstein, Icon of Self-Realization, premiered at the NYC Fringe in 2011. He has facilitated workshops on Jewish storytelling at Limmud UK, Lab/Shul, American Jewish University, and NuRoots. 

NILOO (Actor) is a full-time actor, vocalist, and standup comic in Los Angeles. Her Persian roots contribute to her effectiveness as a vocalist in her musical projects, including the international wedding and party band 26 Orchestra, as well as her solo project, A Tribe Called Love, which brings popular and EDM music together with conscious lyrics. Niloo produces a monthly underground comedy show, That’s Funny Niloo. She is also a vegan, animal rights activist and rescuer and has worked as an inspirational speaker and motivator. Her favorite mantras are *Gratitude is the doorway to abundance” and “Be the friend you wish to see in the world.” Follow Niloo on IG and FB @ThatsFunnyNiloo.

TABBY  REFAEL (Writer) is a Los Angeles-based writer. Born in Iran after the revolution, she and her family were granted refugee asylum in the U.S. when Tabby was 7 years old. She formerly served as executive director and co-founder of 30 Years After, a non-profit which promotes civic action among young Iranian-American Jews, and has written for the Jewish Journal as well as for Los Angeles Magazine.

LISA PEARL ROSENBAUM (Dramaturge/Programming Director of The Braid) is the author of the novel A Day of Small Beginnings (Little, Brown & Co. 2006) and has just completed a new novel, Sacrificial Man, an intimate story of betrayal and archaeology from the fear-filled days of the 1950s blacklist. Lisa lives in Pacific Palisades with her husband, Walt Lipsman. They have two daughters.

MAUREEN RUBIN (Writer) wrote “Zayde’s Legacy,” but she is keeping it a secret from her family. She is an Emeritus Professor of Journalism at California State University, Northridge. In her 30 years on campus, she served in a variety of administrative positions, published widely and received numerous teaching and public service awards.  Prior to joining the CSUN faculty, she worked as a speechwriter in the Carter White House, U.S Congress and several non-profit organizations.  She is a board member of Jewish Women’s Theatre.

FARNAZ SOLOMON (Writer), an American-Iranian Jewish author, was born in Tehran in 1971. At the age of seven she emigrated with her parents to America during the onset of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. She received her BA in foreign languages from UCLA and her JD degree from Southwestern Law School, married her handsome husband and soulmate, Dr. Sid Solomon, and together they have raised four beautiful children. Farnaz began writing under the tutelage of her high school teacher and life mentor to this day, Dr. Sheilah Wilson Serfaty. As a busy working mother of four, Farnaz never took enough pictures but always cherished the moments and memories of her life.  She finally decided to write the pictures she never took and thus began a series of autobiographical vignettes written with hindsight and insight that celebrate the arc of her life.  Farnaz Solomon currently lives in and loves Los Angeles, California.

DAPHNA SHULL (JWT Artistic Associate/NEXT Literary Team) is a three-time NEXT Arts Council Fellow, literary manager, and writer, born and raised in Tampa, Florida. She received her bachelor’s degree in media production from Florida State University. After graduating in 2014, she headed west to pursue a career in screenwriting and the arts. Today Daphna works as JWT’s Artistic Associate and as a museum educator for the Zimmer Children’s Museum. 

RONDA SPINAK (Producer/JWT Artistic Director) created and produces JWT’s At-Homes Salon Theatre Series, now in its 10th season. She has curated more than 35 original Jewish-themed salon shows for JWT, as well as adapted many of the pieces performed. Spinak developed and produced Not That Jewish, which ran for 16 months, garnered an LA Drama Critics Circle nomination, and ran Off-Broadway for more than 200 performances!  Spinak co-wrote Stories from the Fringe, putting the stories of women rabbis on stage for the first time.

Since then, 150 national and international women rabbis have been interviewed, and in partnership with Jewish Women’s Archive have made many of the interviews available online at www.jwa.org. Spinak wrote for Rugrats, and her plays include Oscar Wilde’s Wife, a favorite at the Ashland New Play Festival. Spinak has served as a grant reviewer for the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, is on the board of the Alliance for Jewish Theatres, and is a member of the Dramatists Guild. She feels blessed to be working with the many inspiring women who give so generously to Jewish Women’s Theatre. www.jewishwomenstheatre.org.

SUSIE YURÉ (Associate Producer) has volunteered for 30 years in non-profit organizations, in which she has held leadership roles in fundraising, event planning, facilities coordinating, programming, membership, marketing, and administration. Susie has produced musical theatre productions, classical concerts, and cabaret performances and has been intensely involved in the world of theatre for over 20 years. She holds a BA and MA in elementary education from USC, along with her California lifetime teaching credential. Her favorite role is as mom to her two talented (grown) children, who are both professional (and working) musicians.
ROSE ZIFF (Associate Producer) came out of retirement to work for JWT after working at UCLA Medical Center for 33 years, where she functioned as “den mother” to more than 1000 interns, residents, and clinical fellows at UCLA, the VA, and Olive View-UCLA Medical Centers, providing resources and support. Rose is currently serving on the Board of Directors for Lev Eisha, a Jewish women’s non-profit religious organization and spiritual community. Her hobbies include gardening, dog training and hosting a monthly book club.

GALLERY

Patrons view artwork before show

Pre show art talk with Ronda Spinak and Laura Ornest

Rosie Moss

The cast sings “My Dysfunctional Family” by Mike Himelstein

Michael Naishtut tells the story of his grandfather in a story written by David Naude and Raoul Naude

Niloo gives her baby up for adoption in Betty Goldstein’s “Shame”

Debbie Kasper learns about her secret sister in her own piece, “Sissy-boo”