It’s A Life

Stories that celebrate life while looking at the ironic, mystifying, and oftentimes unbelievably funny events surrounding death.
March 9-28, 2019



Material Adapted, Curated, and Produced by Ronda Spinak
Directed by Susan Morgenstern & Shelly Goldstein
South Bay Producer Liz Altman • SF Bay Producer Carol Kirsh
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

It’s A Life is dedicated to the memory of JWT’s beloved Board Member,
PENNY SPARK (June 30, 1956 – January 10, 2019)
who believed in JWT’s mission of sustaining Jewish stories and Jewish values

Welcome – JWT Artistic Director Ronda Spinak

The EEW Dance
Written by Suzanna Kaplan. Performed by Arva Rose.

Lost & Found
Written by Jared Vagy. Performed by Harris Shore.

My Zaydie
Written and performed by Arva Rose.

The Club
Written by Lizzie Shackney. Performed by Charlotte Evelyn Williams.

Last Mitzvah
Written by Lisa Rosenbaum. Performed by Charlotte Evelyn Williams, Arva Rose
and Lisa Robins.

Mr. Wonderful
Written by Judy Carter. Performed by Lisa Robins, Harris Shore, and
Charlotte Evelyn Williams.

Written by Tajlei Levis. Performed by Arva Rose.

Still in the Game
Written by Eve Lederman. Performed by Harris Shore.

The Prayers of Other Hearts
Written by Laura Sheinkopf. Performed by Charlotte Evelyn Williams.

Written by Olivia Goodkin. Performed by Lisa Robins.

The Suitcase
Written by Alan Duncan Ross. Performed by Harris Shore.

The Perfect Dive
Written by Susan Baskin. Performed by Lisa Robins.

Cyber Obit
Written by Ellen Switkes. Performed by Arva Rose and Ensemble.

Asking Around for You
Words and music by Mike Himelstein and Joe Bonamassa. Performed by
Charlotte Evelyn Williams.


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

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

SHELLY GOLDSTEIN (Director) has written for every genre of TV, film and stage. Her one-woman shows have played to sell-out crowds throughout the US and UK. She co-starred with Sir Derek Jacobi and Vanessa Redgrave in the British film, The Riddle and with Vinnie Jones in the Irish film, Assault of Darkness. She has written or punched-up sitcoms, dramas, films, lyrics, documentaries, animation, award shows, jokes and special material for such artists as Stephen Colbert, Steve Martin, Barbra Streisand, Sharon Stone, Justin Timberlake, Anne Hathaway, LL Cool J, Jane Fonda, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Yoko Ono. She wrote the book for the disco musical, Last Dance, which work-shopped on Broadway and she directed the critically-acclaimed hit comedy The Vic & Paul Show in L.A. and Chicago. She is currently writing the new musical, Somebody Feels the Water and is the L.A. correspondent for London’s Good Vibes radio. She recently won the New Yorker Caption Contest.

OLIVIA GOODKIN (Writer) contributed the short piece on finding feathers. In her professional life, Olivia is an employment law attorney who focuses exclusively on acting as the impartial investigator of employee complaints, including sexual harassment, discrimination, and other workplace issues. In her personal life, the subject of this JWT production is meaningful to her because of the loss of all of her immediate family members at early ages. Fortunately, Olivia has a wonderful husband, two sons, two daughters-in-law, and two young grandchildren in addition to fabulous friends, all of whom bring immense joy to Olivia’s life. (And one of Olivia’s sons plays for the Kansas City Chiefs. Go, Chiefs!)

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.   

SUZANNA KAPLAN (Writer/ Producer) was born in Mexico City and grew up speaking English at home and Spanish everywhere else. Following economic uncertainty, she moved to the US where she partnered with her best friend in a translation service and language school. They did well and being young, sold it as soon as they could and used the money to travel, eventually winding up in Israel. That trip stretched out to six years, a husband and a baby. Back in the US, Suzanna worked in Hispanic advertising and wrote for Spanish language TV. Her greatest pleasure these days is writing, producing and working with the wonderful women of JWT when not caring for the two most marvelous creatures known as grandchildren.