Our Men Have Their Say

July 21-28, 2016

What are our men saying? Find out in this poignant show that will surely engender laughter and tears.  

PRESS

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ARTIST BIOS

C.J. EHRLICH’s  (Writer) award-winning one-acts have enjoyed productions around the US and on five continents. Full lengths: The Cupcake Conspiracy   (“Terrorism Is Easy. Marriage Is Complicated” with Philip J. Kaplan), Rover Dramawerks (TX);  Zane to Gate 69 (scifi time-travel comedy), Overtime Theatre (TX), The Maltese Babka  (WCT, NY). Some favorite partners: Samuel French OOB Fest (NY), Boston Theatre Marathon (MA), Little Fish (Los Angeles), Source DC, Atlanta Theater-to-Go, Grin Theatre “Queertet” (Liverpool). Winner/Audience Choice awards include Fringe of Marin (CA), West Coast Players (FL), Bellarmine International MadThematics Fest (KY). Published: Smith & Kraus’ annual Best Ten-Minute Plays anthologies (2011-2015); Heuer, Applause (pending); The Lilac Ticket, Best American Short Plays of 2014-15. A proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America, C.J. lists among her greatest achievements teaching her sons the fine art of the spit take. Visit at CJ-Ehrlich.com.

RABBI LEONID FELDMAN (Writer), spiritual leader of Temple Beth El in West Palm Beach, Florida, and CLAL associate, is the first and only Soviet-born Conservative rabbi in America. He is also the president of the Ami-Da Institute for training Russian Jewish leaders and senior rabbinic fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. Rabbi Feldman has lectured in 37 states and 19 countries, has testified before the US Congress and Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, and addressed the California Senate and Florida House of Representatives. He has been the subject of feature articles in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Jerusalem Post, Miami Herald, Los Angeles Times, Insight Magazine, and Moment, and his biography appears in a host of Who’s Whos. Rabbi Feldman has served as a scholar for the Wexner Heritage Foundation and as director of education for Soviet emigrés in Italy. He holds graduate degrees in rabbinics from the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, in education from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in physics and theater arts from Kishinev State Pedagogical Institute in the USSR, and is a Ph.D candidate in international relations at the University of Miami.
VICKI JUDITZ (Actor/Writer) Best known in L.A. for her one-woman show Teshuvah, Return about her journey to Judaism, Juditz has performed her original stories at theaters and festivals across the country, including the National Storytelling Festival and the Aspen LAFF Festival.  Her story Boca recently aired on KCRW’s UnFictional and Dancing at Joe’s is slated for an upcoming episode of The Moth Radio Hour.  On TV, she has played comic roles on Coach, Everybody Loves Raymond, and My Name is Earl.
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.
DAVID MASELLO (Writer) is a widely published essayist, feature writer, poet, and playwright (his newest play, Poetic Justice, was chosen by New York’s Acting Studio for a series of cast readings). He is a longtime magazine editor and writer, having held senior editorial positions at Town & Country, Art & Antiques, Travel & Leisure, Departures, and other periodicals. The founding editor-in-chief of Out Traveler, he is currently executive editor of Milieu, a print magazine about design. Prior to his magazine work, he was a hardcover nonfiction editor at Simon and Schuster and has authored two books about architecture and art, as well as published in the New York Times, Salon, Boston Globe, and many other periodicals and anthologies, including Best American Essays. A frequent lecturer at universities, art foundations, and other venues on writing about art and culture, he is on the board of SAY650.com, a popular live-essay reading series where his works have been featured and filmed.  Although Manhattan is where he lives and works, he comes from Evanston, Illinois, which will always feel like home.
AJ MEIJER (Actor) recently made his New York theater debut in the original cast of the smash hit Heathers: The Musical. Film: Life Partners (with Adam Brody and Leighton Meester), Broken Horses (with Vincent D’Onfrio and Anton Yelchin). He co-founded Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble and was seen in their productions of The War Cycle (Ovation Award nomination). Regional: Lennie in Of Mice and Men at TheatreWorks, Silicon Valley; All About Gordon at the Ahmanson; Getty Center with the National Theatre of Greece; Tug of War at the Getty Villa. Graduate of the UCLA School of Theatre, Film, and Television, where he currently teaches business and marketing to the third-year MFA actors. He also co-hosts the weekly industry-focused podcast “Inside Acting.” Learn more at www.insideacting.net  or www.ajmeijer.com.
SUSAN MORGENSTERN (Director) 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.
HAL SIROWITZ (Writer) is an internationally known poet and the author of five books of poetry: Mother Said (Crown/Random House 1996); My Therapist Said (Crown/Random House 1998); Before, During & After (Soft Skull Press 2003); Father Said (Soft Skull Press 2004); and Stray Cat Blues (Backwaters Press 2012) which was awarded the 2013 Nebraska Book Award for Poetry.  His work has been translated into thirteen languages. Hal has performed his poetry across the country and Europe. He has performed and appeared on MTV’s Spoken Word Unplugged; Lollapalooza; Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival; the Helsinki International Poetry Festival; the International Children’s Book Festival in Iceland; Studio Zed on Canadian Public Television; PBS’s Poetry Heaven; NPR’s All Things Considered; PBS’s The United States of Poetry and Fresh Air with Terry Gross.  Hal is a retired New York City public school teacher. He lives with his wife, the writer Minter Krotzer, in Philadelphia.
RONDA SPINAK (Producer & JWT Artistic Director) created and produces JWT’s At-Homes Salon Theatre Series, now in its ninth season. She has curated more than 26 original Jewish-themed salon shows for JWT, as well as adapted many of the pieces performed. She graduated from Stanford University, and holds degrees from UCLA (MBA) and USC (Masters in professional writing). Ronda’s plays include Stories from the Fringe and festival-winner Oscar Wilde’s Wife, a favorite at the Ashland New Play Festival and Dayton’s FutureFest. She has written for the Emmy Award-winning children’s show Rugrats and authored the critically acclaimed nonfiction book ProBodX: Proper Body Exercise (HarperCollins, publisher). Ronda is on the board of the Association for Jewish Theatres, is a member of the Dramatists Guild and has served on the LA County Arts Commission reviewing grants. She feels blessed to be working with the many talented and inspiring women who give so generously to Jewish Women’s Theatre.
DAVID SUISSA (Writer) is president of Tribe Media/Jewish Journal and is an award-winning columnist who writes about everything from the crazy world of politics to the even crazier subject of how Jews are making their way in a post-modern world of Twitter attention spans.
SEAN TOPPS (Actor) was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, and classically trained at the University of Windsor Fine Arts in Acting program. Sean created and starred in the critically acclaimed solo stage play What Be G*d Is Blessing and most recently appeared in the short film The Petulant – A Parody of The Revenant. A frequent performer at JWT, Sean has been seen in Past & Present: Russian Jewish American Stories; My Bad, My Good; and Hold Me, Heal Me and Chutzpah and Salsa.
ROBERT TREBOR (Actor) had critically acclaimed major roles in John Frankenheimer’s 52 Pick-Up, Oliver Stone’s Talk Radio, Roland Emmerich’s Universal Soldier, and Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects. He can be seen in the new Coen Brothers film Hail, Caesar!  He is best remembered for playing The Son of Sam opposite Martin Sheen in Out of the Darkness, and Salmoneus on the Hercules and Xena TV series. He began his theatre career in 1973 (with Robin Williams) and more recently won awards for his work in the world premieres of Ravensridge, La Ronde de Lunch, and his one-man show The Return of Brother Theodore. Bob is the author of Dear Salmoneus: The World ‘s First Guide to Love and Money, and And They Pay You for That?? An Actor’s Unreliable Memoir. This latter tome was described by Kirkus as “…hilarious conversations from an actor’s life…his engaging, charming voice creates a story that feels extraordinary.”  Bob is a recipient of a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor. If you can, please join the National Bone Marrow Registry; it truly is a mitzvah and a lifesaver. Bob is proud to be an artist-in-residence with JWT.
PAUL VERSTEN (Writer) is a musician, artist, and actor who lives in Los Angeles. Over the past 20 years he has toured the country extensively and recorded numerous songs, as well as appeared in film and theater productions. He has found strength in his struggles with addiction and recovery, and he is living a dream he didn’t know he had–being creative every day and using music and the arts to help other people recover.
IAN WALLACH (Writer) is a criminal defense and constitutional-rights attorney and legal commentator by day and occasional writer and Moth story-slam competitor by night. This, his first piece JWT has performed, is adapted from his first published essay, “A Father’s Story: Mourning the Baby We Never Had,” which originally appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, then was reprinted on CNN.com, and then reprinted in the book The Longest Date, Life as a Wife (written by his wife, Cindy Chupack).
RON WOLFSON (Writer) is the Fingerhut Professor of Education at American Jewish University in Los Angeles, where he has been on the faculty for forty years. He is the author of fourteen books on Jewish life, including Shabbat, Passover, Hanukkah, God’s To-Do List, The Seven Questions You’re Asked in Heaven, Relational Judaism, and his memoir, The Best Boy in the United States of America. Each book features stories illustrating the power of Jewish living to strengthen Jewish family life, personal spiritual growth, and institutional vitality. Ron grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and today lives in Encino with his wife, Susie, travels the world as a popular scholar-in-residence and speaker, and eats frozen yogurt just about every day.
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.
ALAN ZWEIBEL (Writer) is an original Saturday Night Live writer who the New York Times says has “earned a place in the pantheon of American pop culture,” Alan has won multiple Emmy, Writers Guild of America, and TV Critics awards which include It’s Garry Shandling’s ShowMonk, PBS’s Great Performances, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.  Theatrical contributions include collaboration with Billy Crystal on the Tony award winning show 700 Sundays, Martin Short’s Broadway hit Fame Becomes Me, and off-Broadway plays Happy, Comic Dialogue, Between Cars, Pine Cone Moment, and Bunny Bunny – Gilda Radner: A Sort of Romantic Comedy, adapted from his best-selling book. Other books by Alan are the 2006 Thurber Prize winning novel The Other Shulman, the children’s book Our Tree Named Steve, North, a collection of short stories and essays entitled Clothing Optional, and the novel Lunatics co-written with Dave Barry. Alan was the co-writer of the screenplays for the films Dragnet, North, and The Story of Us.  He is currently an executive producer on Showtime’s documentary series Inside Comedy, is awaiting publication of a young adult novel titled Benjamin Franklin: Huge Pain In My Ass (Hyperion), and is writing the book for a Broadway musical version of Field of Dreams.   But the production that Alan is most proud of is the family he co-produced with his wife Robin; their children Adam, Lindsay and Sari; and their grandchildren Zachary, Alexis, Jordan and Kylie.
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.

THE PROGRAM

Produced & Material Adapted by Ronda Spinak
Directed by Susan Morgenstern
Associate Producers Barbara Koletsky, Susie Yuré, & Rose Ziff

The Program

No Return
Written by Hal Sirowitz.  Performed by Sean Topps.

My First Love
Based on a short story by Alan Zweibel.  Performed by Robert Trebor, Vicki Juditz and A. J. Meijer.

Missing Shabbes – adapted from the book The Best Boy in the United States of America: A Memoir of Blessings and Kisses, Jewish Lights Publishing, 2015. Written by Dr. Ron Wolfson.  Performed by Sean Topps, Robert Trebor and ensemble.

 A Father’s Story
Written by Ian Wallach.  Performed by A. J. Meijer.

Leaning Sideways
Written by David Suissa.  Performed by Robert Trebor.

The Father in Me
Written by Paul Versten.  Performed by Sean Topps.

The Middle Ground
Written by David Masello.  Performed by A. J. Meijer and Vicki Juditz.

The Promise of Paradise
Written and Performed by Vicki Juditz.

Refused No More
Written by Rabbi Leonid Feldman.  Performed by Sean Topps.

Lilac Ticket
Written by C.J. Erlich.  Performed by Robert Trebor and Vicki Juditz.

Who Are We Fooling?
Written by Hal Sirowitz.  Performed by A. J. Meijer.

GALLERY

Susanna Kaplan, Gail Solo and Rose Ziff prepare buffet pre-show

Patrons check in at The Braid with Susie Yuré

Director Susan Morgenstern greets patron before the show

Sean Topps is briefly re-united with the father he never knew in Paul Versten’s “The Father In Me”

Robert Trebor is a Hebrew school student in love with Biblical Sarah (Vicki Juditz) in Alan Zweibel’s “My First Love”

AJ Meijer suffers the anguish of his wife’s miscarriage in Ian Wallach’s “A Father’s Story”

Robert Trebor and Vicki Juditz reminisce about their vacations in the Catskills, in CJ Ehrlich’s “Lilac Ticket”

Apprecicative Audience

The cast

Post Show Q&A with cast and writer Ron Wolfson

Photos by Jan Burns