Reckoning with Dad

May 10 – June 1, 2015

Explore those moments in our lives when we either make peace or war with our fathers.  Anyone who has a father, or is a father or knows a father, will love this show.


Curated & Produced by Ronda Spinak
Directed by Ellyn Gersh Lerner
Dramaturge Lisa Rosenbaum
South Bay Producer Liz Altman
San Francisco Producer Carol Kirsh

Associate Producers: Barbara Koletsky, Susie Yuré & Rose Ziff

Written by Cindy Chupack. Performed by Lauren Aboulafia or Jessica Carleton, Robert Trebor, Melanie Chartoff and Lisa Robins.

Path of Least Resistance
Written by Bara Swain. Performed by Melanie Chartoff, Robert Trebor and Lisa Robins.

Dad Comes By
Written by Gail Israel. Performed by Lisa Robins.

Dad Was in the Army
Written by Ellen Switkes. Lauren Aboulafia or Jessica Carleton and Robert Trebor.

Written by Arla Sorkin Manson. Performed by Melanie Chartoff.

The Family Secret
Written by Lisa Rosenbaum. Performed by Robert Trebor and Lisa Robins.

Love More
Written by Barbara Bottner. Performed by Lauren Aboulafia
or Jessica Carleton and Robert Trebor.

Bag of Cherries
Written by Leah Kornfeld Friedman. Performed by Lisa Robins.

Dad, Me & Carnegie Hall
Written by Michele Brourman. Performed by Melanie Chartoff and Robert Trebor.

An Apology
Written by Jessica Newman. Performed by Lauren Aboulafia or Jessica Carleton.

Matzohrella Fella
Written by Melanie Chartoff. Performed by Melanie Chartoff, Robert Trebor, and Lisa Robins.

Tribute to My Father
Written by Rosanne Ziering. Performed by Lisa Robins.

True Little Poem
Written by Alison Luterman. Performed by Melanie Chartoff.


LAUREN ABOULAFIA (Actor) is thrilled to be a part of the Jewish Women’s Theatre, as her two loves are theatre and Jews. Lauren graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in theatre and studied at the British Drama Academy in London, where she played Rosalind in As You Like It, one of her favorite roles. Lauren has performed onstage at Interlochen and the Williamstown Theatre Festival and has participated in comedy troupes at the Groundlings and UCB. She recently appeared on Mistresses and Mixology on ABC and was one of the leads in the indie comedy $50K and a Call Girl: A Love Story. She’ll be performing her solo show, Moving On Up, at JWT this year.
BARBARA BOTTNER (Writer) writes for adults and kids. Her over forty books for children and teenagers have garnered national awards, appeared on the New York Times bestseller list as well as the ‘best of’ lists from Bank Street, Amazon and others. Her award-winning animations appeared on the Electric Company and Sesame Street and Jim Henson sang her lyrics. She’s written for children’s television, full length features and was staff for a CBS prime time sit-com. Her short stories appeared in Cosmopolitan, Playgirl, essays, humor and criticism in the LAWEEKLY, The Miami Herald and New York Times. Her editorial art was used in the New York Times Op Ed section as well as in Ms. Magazine. As an actress, she traveled through Europe with Ellen Stewart’s Café La Mama, and worked with Sam Shepherd and many others. She’s an award-winning teacher, currently to a talented bunch of LA authors. She is completing a free-verse YA novel, I See Thunder.
MICHELE BROURMAN (Writer) is a Johnny Mercer Songwriter Award winner whose songs have been recorded by Reba McIntyre, Olivia Newton-John, Donny Osmond, 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 have created the songs for seventeen 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 is particularly proud that her songs have been included in several recent productions by the Jewish Women’s Theater. A gifted musical director, she’s worked with exceptional artists like Dixie Carter, Tovah Feldshuh and Bernadette Peters, and played piano in Bob Dylan’s band. Michele’s CD, Fools and Little Children, is available online.
JESSICA HONOR CARLETON (Actor) is an actress and writer who has been honored to win three National Daytime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series (2014). Carleton was a series regular, head writer, and the puppet/makeup designer on more than 400 episodes of the national children’s TV show Green Screen Adventures (MeTV). She’s written for various animated series as well, including Curious George, Martha Speaks, and Nature Cat. Performance TV credits include Chicago Fire and Svengoolie. A Chicago native, Carleton’s theatre credits include The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter at Steppenwolf Theatre (playing Mick Kelly), In the Company of Men at Profiles Theatre (Christine), and Crippled Sisters in the New Stages Series at Goodman Theatre. Carleton is a graduate of Northwestern University in theatre and creative writing for the media. Thanks to Rose for making this LA dream possible, and to Jewish Women’s Theatre for inviting me into your artistic community.
MELANIE CHARTOFF (Actor/Writer) is an inventor of stories and characters for the page, stage, and screen. As an actress, she’s best known for roles in series such as ABC’s late-night comedy show Fridays, Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, The Newhart Show, Ally McBeal, and Touched by an Angel. She won a Dramalogue Award for the LA premiere of March of the Falsettos and acclaim for her performances in ACT San Francisco’s Sunday in the Park with George, The Vagina Monologues in Chicago, and Beyond Therapy at LA’s Coronet Theater. She can be heard daily somewhere in the world voicing characters such as Didi on Nickleodeon’s long running Rugrats and its spin-offs, movies, and games. She’s written lyrics and book and costars in her upcoming two-character play with music, Fine Lines, and is a columnist for the Huffington Post and the Jewish Journal. She hails from the East Coast stages of Long Wharf Theater, Yale University, and off- and on Broadway (Scapino, Via Galactica, Do I Hear a Waltz). She currently enhances people’s public personae in her Charismatizing Improvising Coaching and Classes. For more information, visit her websites: (
CINDY CHUPACK (Writer) has won two Emmys and three Golden Globes as a TV writer/producer whose credits include Modern Family, Sex and the City, and Everybody Loves Raymond, and she’s currently in New York working on an upcoming HBO show called Divorce starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Hayden Church. A longer version of this story about her dad appears in her New York Times bestseller “The Between Boyfriends Book,” and her new comic memoir about marriage “The Longest Date: Life as a Wife” is now available in paperback.
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. Her book, Essie Finkelstein, Monologues for an Actress, has recently been published. Leah is proud to be the Playwright-in-Residence for 2015 at the 13th Street Repertory Theatre in New York City, where every month one of her plays is given a staged reading.
GAIL ISRAEL (Writer). Gail Israel’s love of writing began in the second grade with her unexpectedly poignant short story The Very Lonely Latke. Since then she has written poetry, short stories, picture books, and two young adult novels. She recently received an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University and is currently working on a collection of short stories. Her poems have been recognized for distinction by Writer’s Digest. She is grateful to be a longstanding member of Barbara Bottner’s master class for writers. Gail is married and has two amazing adult children.
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.
ELLYN GERSH LERNER (Director), a native Angeleno, has directed several salon shows for JWT, including Oh Mother, The Art of Forgiveness, and God Plans and Woman Laughs. Last year Ellyn co-wrote a play on artist and activist Ivy Bottini and is a frequent respondent for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. A longtime faculty member at California State University Northridge, Ellyn has taught courses in theatre and the humanities and is particularly fond of integrating theatre into interdisciplinary courses like The Idea of Story. Ellyn is a graduate of Occidental College, Ball State University, and UCLA, where she earned her PhD in theatre. Among the plays she has directed are the off-Broadway premiere of The Pretender, William Inge’s Bus Stop at the University of Michigan, Sophocles’ Electra at the University of North Te
JAMIE LEVINSON (Technical Director) graduated from Santa Monica High School in 2010. At 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.
ALISON LUTERMAN (Writer) has written books of poems that include The Largest Possible Life (Cleveland State University Press), See How We Almost Fly (Pearl Editions), and Desire Zoo (Tia Chucha Press). She has published poems in The Sun Magazine, Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, Rattle, The Atlanta Review, and many other journals and anthologies. Two of her poems are included in Billy Collins Poetry 180 project at the Library of Congress. Her personal essays have appeared in Salon, The Sun Magazine, The L.A. Review, The Ne