Hold Me, Heal Me

January 12-31, 2014

Listen to Hold Me, Heal Me (Abridged) on the JWT Podcast


How kindness comforts us even in our most broken moments. This evening of stories, poems, plays and songs will make you laugh, cry, and remember how acts of kindness impact your life.


Underwritten by generous donations from Gail Solo, in dedication to Dr. Edith Eger, and Gladys & David Layne

Produced by Ronda Spinak
Assistant Producer: Barbara Koletsky
Directed by Eve Brandstein
Dramaturge Lisa Rosenbaum

Associate Producers: Susie Yure´ and Rose Ziff

Welcome ~ Ronda Spinak, JWT Artistic Director
Janis Nelson, JWT Board Chair

Sixties Girl
Written by Arla Sorkin Manson. Performed by Kate Zentall, Sean Topps, and Lisa Cirincione.

Drinks Before Flight
Written by Lisa Kenner Grissom. Performed by Lisa Cirincione and Sean Topps.

The Infected Finger
Written by Leah Kornfeld Friedman. Performed by Kate Zentall.

The Shabbos Goy
Written by Joanne Verdino. Performed by Lisa Cirincione.

In the Dark Silence
Music and Lyrics by Michele Brourman. Performed by Michele Brourman or Lisa Cirincione.

Unlikely Friends
Written and performed by Annie Korzen.

A Balm in Beverly Hills
Written by Faye Sholiton. Performed by Kate Zentall and Sean Topps.

A Dance, A Piece of Bread, and a Life
Words by Dr. Edith Eger. Adapted by Ronda Spinak. Performed by Lisa Cirincione and Annie Korzen.

O, Engineer
Written by Anna Belle Kaufman. Performed by Kate Zentall.

Written by Naomi Shihab Nye. Performed by the Ensemble.


EVE BRANDSTEIN (Director) has made contributions to nearly every facet of the entertainment industry. She has been a major studio executive, a producer, a director, writer/creator, talent manager and author. Eve has a very notable career as a casting director with hundreds of credits for major television and film projects. Some of her credits for casting over three decades include the feature This is Spinal Tap, and among her many television credits, Diff’rent Strokes, One Day At A Time, Facts of Life and Who’s The Boss, The Ponderosa, Little Men, and Beastmaster, to name a few. She has also produced and written series including E/R the comedy series and produced several features. She is currently producing Poetry In Motion in LA at Beyond Baroque and in New York at the Cutting Room. She is presently directing Shut Up, Sit Down & Eat and recently directed the premiere of Revisiting Wildfire and Ronnie Spector’s Beyond The Beehive. Eve is also the director of the Jewish Women’s Theater, “Stories From the Fringe”.
MICHELE BROURMAN (Songwriter) is a Johnny Mercer Songwriter Award winner whose songs have been recorded by Olivia Newton-John, Donny Osmond, Sheena Easton and more. Her best known song, “My Favorite Year”, recorded by Michael Feinstein, Cleo Laine and Margaret Whiting, has become a cabaret standard. Broadway World recently wrote: “Brourman is an unquestionably amazing talent, whose music should be heard by the whole world.” She composed the score for Dangerous Beauty, produced at the Pasadena Playhouse, with lyricist Amanda McBroom. She and McBroom created the songs for sixteen animated features for Universal Studios including the beloved Land Before Time series. Her musical I Married Wyatt Earp, with lyrics by Sheilah Rae, was produced off Broadway and her songs have been featured in television and film. Michele’s CD, Fools and Little Children, is available online.
LISA CIRINCIONE (Actor) is a television, film and stage actress who has shot two national commercials this month, for Sky Italia with Sandra Oh and Pizza Hut. She is currently starring in the LA Times Critic’s Choice production of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge at Pacific Resident Theatre, now in its fourth month of a sold out run. Recent projects include the film Wini + George, which won Best Dramatic Short at Outfest 2013, and the on-going web series Mrs. Gary, guest starring Ed O’Neil. Lisa is a graduate of the B.F.A. Acting program at University of Southern California and is fluent in Italian and Spanish. She would like to thank her incredible Sicilian-Jewish family for all their love and support.
DR. EDITH EGER (Writer) is a prolific author and a member of several professional associations. She has a clinical practice in La Jolla, California and holds a faculty appointment at the University of California, San Diego. She has appeared on numerous television programs including Oprah Winfrey and was the primary subject of a holocaust documentary that appeared on Dutch National Television. She is frequently invited to make speaking engagements throughout the United States, Mexico, and abroad.
LEAH KORNFELD FRIEDMAN (Writer) received her MFA from Brooklyn College and has been a lecturer at Smith College, SUNY Albany and Brooklyn College. In addition to three Yaddo Fellowships, Leah was a playwright-in-residence at the University of Pittsburgh, and has won numerous awards, including The New York Foundation for the Arts Playwrights Fellowship and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture Playwrights Award. Her plays have been produced at The American Jewish Theatre, Theatre for the New City, National Jewish Theatre, Cherry Lane Theatre, and The Gaslamp Quarter Theatre among others. Her screenplay, Should’ve Been Romeo, features Ed Asner, Carol Kane, Paul Ben-Victor and Michael Rappaport. She is currently working on a book of monologues called Essie Finkelstein, Monologues for an Actress.
LISA KENNER GRISSON (Writer) Lisa’s play Tattoo You won the 2013 National 10-Minute Play Award from The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. It also won the 2013 Samuel French Off Broadway Festival and will be published in an upcoming anthology. Her full-length play Motherland was a 2013 semi-finalist for the Jewish Plays Project. Her work has been presented and/or developed at The Kennedy Center, Manhattan Theatre Source, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and The Road Theatre Company, among others. B.A. Wesleyan University; MFA Lesley University. Member: Dramatist Guild, Fell Swoop Playwrights, The Playwrights Union.
ANNA BELLE KAUFMAN (Writer) is an artist and art psychotherapist, now retired to the countryside in Northern California with her husband and two goats, Yankl and Yosl. Her writing has appeared in The Sun, Utne Reader, Calyx and other publications. More of her poems and prose are to be found on: http://objectsofmyaffections.wordpress.com/
BARBARA KOLETSKY (Assistant Producer) has produced many events, specializing in charitable organizations as well as the corporate and private sectors. She is a fundraiser for UCLA Food Closet for Children and Children of the Night. As a co-owner of Crown Car Wash Los Angeles and owner of RSVP Party Planning, she was responsible for all aspects of the businesses. Barbara was born in New York and moved to California in the late sixties. Additionally, she has worked in marketing and promotions for Polygram Records in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
ANNIE KORZEN (Writer/Performer) was the recurring Doris Klompus on Seinfeld. She played John Turturro’s mother in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and Jason Alexander’s sister in Neil Simon’s Prisoner of 2nd Avenue. She has performed her solo shows Yenta Unplugged and The Yenta Cometh on three continents. Annie is the author of Bargain Junkie: Living the Good Life on the Cheap. She has done humorous essays for NPR’s Morning Edition, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and many more. Roger Ebert suggested on Twitter that you watch Annie on OldJewsTellingJokes.com. Annie has created a full evening of her stories called Tales from the Mouth: Mishaps, Fiascos, and Other Triumphs.
JAMES LEVINSON (Technical Director) graduated from Santa Monica High School in 2010. At the Allegheny College he acted in two productions, The Cherry Orchard, where he played Yepikhodov and Servant of Two Masters, where he played Florindo. During his primary education, he appeared in numerous talent shows.
ARLA SORKIN MANSON (Writer) has written numerous television pilots including Destiny and Me (ABC), Far From Where (ABC), The Shack (ABC), In The Mood (CBS), Loveland (CBS), and Bethany Gibbs (NBC). She has also written for the television series Against the Law (FOX) and Saved (TNT). Her TV movie credits include The Wedding Dress (CBS) Executive Producer, Mind Games (ABC) Writer/Executive Producer, and Acts of Contrition (CBS) Supervising Producer. Arla’s contributions to Broadway theater include Beth Henley’s The Wake of Jamey Foster (Co-Producer), Production Executive on Christopher Durang’s Beyond Therapy, Tom Dulack’s Solomon’s Child, and the Craig Carnelia musical, Is There Life After High School? Arla is on the Board of Directors and Selection Committee, Ojai Playwrights Conference. She dedicates this reading to her husband, David Manson, and her daughter, Lainie Sorkin Becky.
NAOMI SHIBAB NYE (Writer) is a Palestinian-American who was born in St. Louis and grew up there, in Jerusalem, and in San Antonio, Texas where she continues to live. She is author/editor of 33 books and works as a roving educator and speaker. Habibi, a novel for young adults, won 5 Best Book Awards and has been translated into 5 languages including Hebrew. Sitti’s Secrets, about her Palestinian grandmother, won the
LISA PEARL ROSENBAUM (Dramaturge/Writer) is the author of the novel, A Day of Small Beginnings (Little, Brown & Co. 2006). When not engaged with All Things JWT she works on her new novel about the destruction of ancient Indian mounds at Cahokia, Illinois, the Blacklist, America’s interstate highways and oh yes, love. Lisa lives in Pacific Palisades with her husband, Walt Lipsman. They have two daughters, Ariana and Maya.
FAYE SHOLITON (Writer) is the founder of Interplay Jewish Theatre, a company that produces staged readings of Jewish themed works. Her full-length works have been read or produced in more than three dozen venues worldwide and have won more than 20 national honors. Prior to writing plays, she was an award-winning journalist for local, regional and national publications. She teaches for writers of every description, including high school and college students, community groups and cruise ship passengers.
RONDA SPINAK (Artistic Director/Producer) created the At-Homes Salon Theatre Series, now in its fifth season, and has developed and produced 16 original Jewish themed Salon shows. She has written for the Emmy Award-winning children’s show, Rugrats, authored the critically acclaimed nonfiction book ProBodX: Proper Body Exercise (HarperCollins, publisher), and written many plays, including Oscar Wilde’s Wife. She is currently producing the documentary film about women rabbis, On the Fringe, and has recently co-authored the play, Stories From the Fringe, the personal stories of women rabbis culled from the transcripts of the documentary film. Ronda is grateful for the many blessings she’s received from her work with Jewish Women’s Theatre. She is also thankful to her family for their support, especially Alan Ross and Curren and Aiden Krasnoff.
SEAN TOPPS (Actor) was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada. Sean was classically trained at the University of Windsor, where he obtained his BFA in acting. Having performed as an actor in Canada, Israel and the U.S., he now lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. Sean is very excited and honored to be part of this project.
JOANNE VERDINO (Writer) is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker from New York who has worked in multicultural middle and high schools for the past thirty years. In addition to her Master’s in Social Work, Joanne holds post-graduate certifications in Autism, Substance Abuse Counseling and is a certified Olweus Bully Prevention Program trainer. Known to friends and family as a “story teller”, Joanne wrote The Shabbos Goy as a testament to the comfort and companionship of the Orthodox people sharing the ICU waiting room at NYU Hospital in the final days of her sister Judi’s life. Joanne lives on Long Island with her husband, Roland Ng and their two wonderful daughters, Codi and Kasey.
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, 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. She is immediate-past president of Lev Eisha, a woman’s non-profit religious organization and spiritual community. Her favorite role is as mom to her two talented (grown) children, who are both professional (and working) musicians.
KATE ZENTALL (Actor) is proud to be an artist-in-residence at the JWT. She has performed in NYC venues including the Public Theater, Guggenheim Museum, and Carnegie Hall. In LA, there’s been lots of Shakespeare, Irish plays, English comedies, modern dramas, and dinner theater at the Taper and other companies around town – as well as movies, commercials, plus a good deal of network TV, from series regular on Studio 5B, to a recurring role on Hunter to guest spots on Cheers, Lou Grant, It’s a Living, Becker, and many more. Most recently she has been a writer and editor for magazines, books, and the internet. Kate considers herself a recovering actress who’s become increasingly lax about falling off the wagon. She believes she may be the only writer in LA not working on a sceenplay.
ROSE ZIFF (Associate Producer) Rose is the most recent member of the JWT team, and is new to performing arts. She has come out of retirement after working at UCLA Medical Center for 33 years, where she functioned as “den mother” to over 1000 interns, residents and clinical fellows at UCLA, the VA and Olive View-UCLA Medical Centers, providing resources and support. She is looking forward to opening this new chapter in her life and thanks Susie Yure´ and Ronda Spinak for giving her this opportunity.


Eve Brandstein directing rehearsal

Artistic Director Ronda Spinak and performer Annie Korzen share a quiet moment before the show

Susie Yure´and Board member Patty Linden at check in

One of the underwriters of Hold Me, Heal Me, David and Gladys Layne, enjoy the program prior to the show

Dessert buffet

Literary Manager and food stylist Suzanna Kaplan