Wide Open

Life astonishes you! Hold on tight! True Jewish stories of opening yourself to the unknown.
May 1-19, 2022

PRESS

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THE PROGRAM

Produced by RONDA SPINAK
Material Adapted & Curated by DAVID CHIU, VICKI SCHAIRER,
DAPHNA SHULL & RONDA SPINAK
Directed by SUSAN MORGENSTERN
Dramaturge LISA ROSENBAUM • Stage Manager AMANDA HOROWITZ 

WELCOME

THE PROGRAM


We Ain’t Got No Locks on the Doors – A Commission of The Braid
Written and performed by Joshua Silverstein. 

Summer Love Revisited
Written by Maureen Rubin. Performed by Jill Remez and Joshua Silverstein. 

Near Miss
Written by Jodi Marcus. Performed by Chelsea London Lloyd. 

The 8 X 10
Written by Jeffrey Louis Levin. Performed by Joshua Silverstein. 

Sharing
Written by Paulette Benson. Performed by Natasha McCrea. 

Unpacking All of Me
Written by Holly Hewitt. Performed by Joshua Silverstein and Jill Remez. 

TikTok Transformation
Written and performed by Chelsea London Lloyd. 

Coney Island Shiva
Written by Chelsea Eng. Performed by Natasha McCrea and Jill Remez. 

The Fear Never Really Goes Away
Written by David Chiu. Performed by Joshua Silverstein and Jill Remez. 

A Girl Named Molly
Written by Kaye Steinsapir. Adapted from an interview by Ronda Spinak. Performed by Jill Remez. 

Ahavat Olam
Music by Gabriel Mann and Piper Rose Rutman. Performed by Natasha McCrea and Jill Remez. 

Small is the New Big
Written by Rossi (aka Chef Rossi). Performed by Natasha McCrea and ensemble. 

POST SHOW Q & A 

ARTIST BIOS

PAULETTE BENSON (Writer), MAJE from Hebrew Union College, has worked extensively in the greater Los Angeles Jewish community and was a Hillel director at five colleges with small Jewish populations. Benson taught Judiasm as a religio-cultural civilization class at both Cal Poly Pomona (Ethnic Studies Dept.) and again at ORT (for Russian Immigrants). Additionally, she led Jewish studies classes both at UCLA Extension and American Jewish University (then UJ), in their continuing adult education programs. She is the co-author of two published curriculum pieces (student workbooks and teacher manuals): The Jewish Family and Divorce in Jewish Life.  Her current interests include creating pottery and writing her family stories. She also actively advocates stopping climate change. 

DAVID CHIU (Marketing & Communications Manager) is a West LA–based screenwriter whose alliance with The Braid began when one of his pieces was performed for a salon show. He went on to become a two-time NEXT at the Braid Emerging Artists fellow and finally joined this incredible story company as an employee. Television: LORE (Amazon Prime). The Braid: True Colors, Inside Our Time, For Goodness Sake (also Director), Who’s Hiding Now? and The Rest is History (also Director & Literary). Represented by the Gersh Agency and Authentic Talent & Literary. Member of the board of trustees at Temple Isaiah of Los Angeles; recipient of its 2019 Emerging Leader award. Environmental activist and volunteer on various electoral campaigns. Jew of Color, of Litvak and Cantonese heritage.

CHELSEA ENG (Writer) is an interdisciplinary artist: dancer-choreographer, performer, educator, filmmaker, writer. Since the late 1990s, Chelsea has been a pioneer in the portrayal of women in tango performance while evolving the language of tango with “all-genders-welcome” Lead-Follow Exchange. For 20 years she has sought to open minds around gender equity and LGBTQ rights. She has used the language of tango to tell fresh stories and to showcase women partnering women in duets and groups. Since 2013, Chelsea has collaborated with diverse-ability dancer Rodney Bell, director Philip Kan Gotanda, director Max Masri, and transgender actor Ashley Hou on Telly and Anthem DEI award-winning dance films. On February 23, 2022, Chelsea formally converted to Judaism through Congregation Emanu-El and guide Rabbi Beth Singer. Early pandemic, The Braid published her personal narrative piece, “Tango Shoes on Hold.”  A longtime animal welfare volunteer/advocate, Chelsea is newly co-coordinating group visits to Paws for Life K9 Rescue/Solano State Prison.  www.TangoChelsea.com.

HOLLY HEWITT (Writer) is a member of the transgender community. She has kept her “secret” for many years out of fear of being ostracized or physically hurt.  As a result of the current hatred and anti-trans sentiment in this country, Ms. Hewitt felt it was important to share her story and let the light shine on her so that she may encourage other people to live a genuine life.  She feels comfortable as herself or as her male counterpart. She feels lucky that she can experience much more than many cis-males are able to.  She believes that one inalienable right we all have is to live an honst and genuine life.  This is her second piece produced by The Braid.  Ms. Hewitt is grateful for the opportunity to share her journey with such a loving and respectful community.  She is currently completing a book containing her poetry, which she hopes to release to the public later this year. 

AMANDA HOROWITZ (Stage Manager) wants to spend her life organizing and creating new theater. She recently graduated with bachelor’s degrees in theater and math from the University of Alabama, where she stage-managed and assistant stage-managed eight shows in the theater department. She most recently directed a thirty-minute play as part of a new-works play festival in North Hollywood. She hopes someday to be able to run her own theater company dedicated to producing emerging theater and providing other young adults with their first paid opportunities in the arts. She is thankful to The Braid for providing her first step toward her professional career.

JEFFREY LOUIS LEVIN (Writer) has a professional life encompasses a variety of endeavors. Early on, he worked in the political realm—for a congressman in Washington, DC, a mayor in Los Angeles, and a governor in New York. A member of the Writers Guild of America, he’s written television, screenplays, and a play. His essays have been published in the Village Voice, the Los Angeles Times, and Museum News. For many years he’s been the editor of Conservation Perspectives, an international periodical published by the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles. At the Getty, he’s written a documentary on the tomb of Queen Nefertari in Egypt, written and produced a documentary on the David Alfaro Siqueiros mural América Tropical, and produced a series of videos as part of the 2016 Getty exhibition Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road. “The 8 X 10” is part of a collection of autobiographical poems.

CHELSEA LONDON LLOYD (Actor/Writer) is an actor and comedian in Los Angeles whose theatre credits include Blaze (world premiere, the Hudson Theatre, 2022) and My Big Gay Italian Funeral (West Coast premiere, Defiance Theater Co.). She has appeared in television shows such as Barry (HBO, Dir. Bill Hader) and Schooled (ABC) as well as commercials for Facebook, Alaska Airlines, and KFC. Standup credits include The Laugh Factory, The Comedy Store, SF SketchFest & OC Comedy Festival – Best of Fest. Next up she will appear in the feature films 5000 Blankets (Sony) and The Dresden Sun (Archetype.) Lloyd is verified on Facebook and holds a BA in theatre from USC. When she is not performing, you will find her volunteering as a grief counselor with The Dinner Party, Experience Camps, and Walk with Sally, as well as hosting her comedic grief podcast, Dying of Laughter. #YODO… you only die once! @_ChelsWhoElse_

GABRIEL MANN and PIPER ROSE RUTMAN (Writers) Gabriel Mann wrote the “Hey Hey” theme and underscore for Modern Family. He is currently scoring ABC’s A Million Little Things and recently completed the feature film Better Nate Than Ever. Mann has shared the stage with Alanis Morissette, Adele, and the Rolling Stones; produced Sara Bareilles’ first album, Careful Confession; and played a Christmas vs. Hanukkah show with Katy Perry. His father is cantor/neurologist Joel Rutman, and his daughter is Piper Rose Rutman, a high school junior who founded her middle school a cappella group and whose voice has appeared in numerous film and television projects for Netflix, Dreamworks, and ABC, among others. She regularly arranges for her high school group, the Unaccompanied Minors, and was commissioned to create a new arrangement of “Ahavat Olam” for the Angel City Chorale, the song she co-wrote with her father, made famous by Jonah, Henry, and Ben Platt.

JODI MARCUS (Community Partnership Lead) first came to The Braid as a patron, and now helps bring people together to laugh, cry, and share in the human experience by booking Braid shows across the country. Prior to joining The Braid team, Jodi worked for 18 years in the non- profit sector as a fundraiser and consultant. In a younger iteration of her life, Jodi saw half of the world as a dancer. She’s now traded in her tap shoes for tapping on the computer, writing short stories, and working on a novel for tweens. Jodi holds a BA in communications, public relations from Cal State Fullerton and a MPA from Cal State Northridge.

SUSAN MORGENSTERN (Director/Producing 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, a performing-arts camp in upstate New York.  Los Angeles productions: Theatre West – selections from All in the Timing; the musicals Just Too Cool, Saturday Night at Grossinger’s, as well as the play, The Socialization of Ruthie Shapiro.  Falcon/Garry Marshall Theatre – Leap; Surviving Sex; the hit comedy The Psychic.  Whitefire Theatre – Memorizing Rome.  Skylight Theatre – an extended run of the acclaimed comedy, Reasons to Live.  In addition, Susan directed Happy Days, a New Musical, for Cabrillo Music Theatre. She co-authored and directed 18 Minutes of Fame: A Musical Journey with Barbara Minkus, which has played in Los Angeles and NYC. Susan has worked as a consultant show director at Disneyland Parks and Resorts, Anaheim, where she has the privilege of working with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and all their pals.  She’s directed numerous Braid salon shows and is especially proud to be its producing director, working closely with a tremendous group of brilliant and passionately creative people.

NATASHA McCREA (Actor) is a multi-passionate entertainer and the founder of Love CEO Institute, a personal development company for women. She has a degree in psychology from Grand Canyon University. Through the development and national tour of her one-woman show, Evolution of a Love Addict, several years of counseling, and serial entrepreneurship, Natasha turned her life around and elevated herself from love addict to Love CEO. She now coaches women on how to find peace, pleasure, and success by using the Love Intelligence Method she has developed. Her entertainment industry experience spanning 20 years includes acting in commercials, network tv appearances, and award-winning production of several short films. She has directed a one-woman show, a commercial, and a documentary (in post-production). She also won a best-writer award for her one-woman show. Natasha lives in Los Angeles with her husband. Stay in touch at www.natashamccrea.com.

JILL REMEZ (Actor) is thrilled to be back at The Braid; actually she is thrilled to be onstage again!  Jill is an actor, writer and storyteller.  She has appeared on stages throughout Southern California including The Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Repertory and Laguna Playhouse. Recent (pre-pandemic) performances include Kate in Neil Simon’s Broadway Bound at the Miles Memorial Playhouse and Ofelia in Anna In The Tropics at Open Fist Theatre. TV credits include Yellowstone, I Think You Should Leave, The Neighborhood, This Is Us, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Made For Love. Film credits include the independent films Blueprint, DUSTWUN, Eat Wheaties, Rental, Stevie D., Helicopter Mom, Dead Drop and Shadowboxing. She also teaches voiceover at Kalmenson & Kalmenson.

LISA PEARL ROSENBAUM (Dramaturg) is the author of the novel A Day of Small Beginnings (Little, Brown & Co. 2006) and is currently completing a new novel, Sacrificial Man. She is a Braid writer and dramaturg and, with a small but mighty team, produces and hosts The Braid’s pod- casts and the Sunday with The Braid events. Most recently, Lisa wrote Stories from the Violins of Hope – a dramatic event with live music, presented by The Braid, Temple Isaiah, and the Jewish Symphony of Los Angeles.

ROSSI (AKA CHEF ROSSI) (Writer) has written for The Daily News, The New York Post, Time Out New York, and McSweeney’s. She writes the “Eat Me” column for Bust magazine, hosts a hit radio show on WOMR in Cape Cod called “Bite This,” has been featured on the Food Network and NPR, and is a popular blogger for The Huffington Post.  She is the owner and chef of The Raging Skillet, a cutting-edge catering company known for breaking all the rules. Rossi’s memoir, The Raging Skillet: The True Life Story of Chef Rossi, was published in 2015 to rave reviews, adapted for the stage and has been touring the country ever since. Rossi recently completed her second memoir, Queen of the Jews. She has written two full-length plays, a bounty of short plays, a one-woman stage adaptation of Queen of the Jews and launched the Raging and Eating podcast.

MAUREEN RUBIN (Writer) is a professor emeritus 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 The Braid, is partly responsible for their media outreach and often moderates Sunday Mornings with The Braid. She is a frequent contributor to The Braid’s productions. 

VICKI SCHAIRER (Literary Manager) is a filmmaker, director, and video editor. Her short film Just Relax won the audience choice award at the 2021 REEL Recovery Film Festival. Vicki loves stories that explore the triumphs, failures, and nuances of the human condition. She has associate-produced docuseries, short films, and branded content for major outlets and small companies. Over the past five years, Vicki has collaborated on shows for The Braid as a NEXT @ the Braid Fellow (The Rest is History, Guilty Parties, The Space Between) and is thrilled to be part of the literary team on Wide Open, and to continue working with the amazing team at The Braid to bring these incredible stories to audiences.

DAPHNA SHULL (Creative Associate/NEXT Literary Manager) is a six-time NEXT Arts Council Fellow, literary manager, writer, artist, producer, and photographer born and raised in Tampa, Florida. Daphna has been featured as a writer, songwriter, and visual artist in multiple Braid productions, and is very proud to be producing StoryNosh, The Braid’s new digital storytelling series. Along with working at The Braid, Daphna runs her own photography business, Happy Life Kids Photography. www.happylifekidsphotography.com.

JOSHUA SILVERSTEIN (Actor/Writer) is an award-winning actor, comic, writer, beatboxer, and educator whose performances and productions throughout the country have prompted admiration from creative greats ranging from Norman Lear to Prince. For more than 20 years, Joshua has provided and facilitated theater, improvisation, and spoken-word workshops and in-school residencies designed to create a safe and open space for students of all ages to experience the freedom of creative expression. Joshua brings passion, play, and persuasion to make words, thinking, and expression infectiously fun. He served as the cohost and coproducer of Emmy Award–winning Downbeat 720 for 19 years and currently cohosts The Silversteins’ Show, a daily news program and podcast providing levity and context to current events with his wife, Cinthya Guillen.

RONDA SPINAK (Producer/Artistic Director) created The Braid’s Salon Theatre Series and has since curated and produced more than 70 original Jewish-themed salon shows, as well as adapted many of the pieces performed. Spinak developed and produced Ovation-recommended Not That Jewish, which ran for 16 months, garnered an LA Drama Critics Circle nomination, and then moved to a successful run off-Broadway. She also re-developed and produced Rain Pryor’s hit show Fried Chicken & Latkes and Vicki Juditz’s Ovation-recommended Sacred Resistance. In January 2021, Spinak developed and produced Stories from the Violins of Hope, which was shared in 30 countries by the United Nations Program on the Holocaust. Additionally, it was translated into Spanish and Portuguese and streamed to Latin America. In 2022, the film will be in the Greenwich International Film Festival. Spinak also co-wrote Stories from the Fringe, putting the stories of women rabbis on stage for the first time. Since then, she and her team have interviewed on videotape 185 national and international women rabbis, and in partnership with Jewish Women’s Archive have made many of the interviews available online at www.jwa. org. In 2022/23, an art exhibition, “Holy Sparks,” will feature 24 Jewish women artists — each has been paired with one pioneering woman rabbi to create a work of art based on the rabbi’s words and life. The exhibition will open in New York in April and will travel afterwards. Spinak 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 so many creative people who work with The Braid.

KAYE STEINSAPIR (Writer) is the mother of Molly, Nathaniel, and Eli. She and her husband, Jonathan, have been married for 16 years, after becoming best friends while they were students at the UCLA School of Law.  Kaye is a writer, attorney, and leader of the Molly Steinsapir Foundation. Kaye strives to honor Molly by making a positive difference in her name every day. The Steinsapir family recently traveled to Israel, where a petting zoo at Adi-Negev Nehalat Eran, a rehabilitation village for disabled children, was dedicated to Molly. Kaye is a breast cancer survivor who supports other young women who are undergoing treatment. While Molly’s life was tragically cut short before her bat mitzvah, Kaye is preparing to become a bat mitzvah this fall. Molly will be with her family on that special day, as she always is.  Kaye is grateful to G-d, her family, and many friends.

SUSIE YURÉ (Director of Community Engagement/Associate Producer) has proudly worked with The Braid for 10 years. She has volunteered in non-profit organizations, in which she has held leadership roles in fundraising, event planning, facilities coordinating, programming, membership, marketing, and administration. Susie h