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FOR LONG ISLAND READS 2013
Available March 15 through May 15

 

FROM THE PAGES OF

SUTTON

By J.R. MOEHRINGER

 

 

TWO ACTORS PERFORM A ONE-HOUR READING 
IN THE STYLE OF RADIO DRAMA, WITH MUSIC AND EFFECTS
(David supplies voices of the World and the Law; Ray Gobes Jr. is Willie)

 

"Willie, the World and the Law"

Adapted and Directed by David Houston

 

Willie Sutton was born in the slums of Brooklyn in spring of 1901 and
grew to manhood in the America of World War I and the Great Depression.
Sutton watched the banks fail, causing countless Americans to lose their jobs, homes. He devised a way out. Over a thirty-year period, he became so good at breaking into banks and breaking out of prisons, that police called him one of the most dangerous men in New York, and the FBI put Willie “The Actor” Sutton on its Most Wanted list. But the public rooted shamelessly for Willie. He was a gun-toting softy who never fired a shot, whose victims were merely those "blood-thirsty" banks. When he was finally caught for good in 1952,
crowds surrounded the jail and chanted his name.

Poignant, comic, fast-paced and fact-studded,
Sutton tells a story that feels eerily modern, while unfolding plots of ingenuity, daring, and hopeless love.

"The bad reviews, we took those hard," said Willie.
"If the cops said the robbery looked like the work of amateurs,
we’d go into a funk for a week.”

BASIC INFO

Available March 15 through May 15, 1013, only, for non-
profit events; recording or sale in any form is prohibited.
$325 package includes two actors, reading stands, CD player for soundtrack, and travel (outside Long Island, call for travel charge). Facility is asked to provide a performing area at least 8 x 12, basic lighting, and amplification if the space is large. 60 minutes long.
 

CONTACT

David Houston: 516-293-2638 / DH@davidhouston.net

SCHEDULED PERFORMANCES

Tuesday, April 9, 2:00 pm, HICKSVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY
Tuesday, April 9, 7:30 pm, PORT WASHINGTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
Wednesday, April 10, 2:00 pm, JERICHO PUBLIC LIBRARY
Monday, April 15, 12:30 pm, EAST MEADOW PUBLIC LIBRARY
Tuesday, April 16, 10:30 am, FRANKLIN SQUARE PUBLIC LIBRARY
Wednesday, April 17, 2:00 pm, FREEPORT MEMORIAL LIBRARY
Wednesday, April 17, 7:00 pm, LYNBROOK PUBLIC LIBRARY
Thursday, April 18, 1:00 pm, HEWLETT WOODMERE PUBLIC LIBRARY
Friday, April 19, 3:00 pm, SEAFORD PUBLIC LIBRARY
Friday, April 19, 7:30 pm, MANHASSET PUBLIC LIBRARY
Monday, April 22, 2:00 pm, ELMONT PUBLIC LIBRARY
Wednesday, April 24. 2:00 pm, LONG BEACH PUBLIC LIBRARY
Thursday, April 25, 2:30 pm, WEST BABYLON PUBLIC LIBRARY

SCROLL DOWN OR JUMP WITH THESE LINKS:

THE CRITICS

QUOTES FROM THE AUTHOR

BIO: J.R. MOEHRINGER

BIO: DAVID HOUSTON

BIO: RAY GOBES JR.
PHOTOS: THE REAL WILLIE SUTTON

WILLIE'S NEW YORK IN PICTURES

HELPFUL LINKS

REVIEWS AND COMMENTS

 

CRITICS ARE SAYING

 
NEWSDAY
: Moehrin
ger's first book, a memoir of growing up in Manhasset called "The Tender Bar," was so deeply felt and beautifully written it's hard to imagine the person who could not appreciate it. "Sutton" is a more specialized flavor. What connects both works is the theme of disenfranchised masculinity: how a young man in a tough world learns to be both hard and soft, moral and reckless, a lover and a fighter. In an interview, Moehringer said he sees the historical novel as "fiction with training wheels." His fans will want to see what hapens when training wheels come off.

 

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: "Sutton" educates, entertains, delights and speaks to the (flawed) human condition. It will appeal to a crossover audience of lovers of historical fiction, true-crime narratives and mystery novels. The banking industry - at least that segment that takes umbrage with all the criticism - will not welcome the book's publication.

 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: There's a quality to J.R. Moehringer's writing that makes you feel you aren't stepping into a book so much as a dimly lit but welcoming bar. This makes sense to anyone who's read his moving 2005 memoir, "The Tender Bar," about coming of age in a corner saloon. With a voice at once sentimental and muscular, Moehringer is like the kid brother of John Irving or Roddy Doyle. He brings a raconteur's grace and rhythm to his first novel, "Sutton," a stirring portrait of Willie ''The Actor'' Sutton, the notorious bank robber who never fired his gun.

 

SEATTLE TIMES: It's easy to romanticize this kind of criminal, but the reader's sense of right and wrong is left intact because Willie more than pays his dues with his many years of confinement and the cruel treatment he endures, especially after his escapes and escape attempts. The thrill of thievery is balanced by the abject misery of incarceration. Prison leaves him broken, and at times, nearly insane. The characterizations and dialogue — clipped, noir, corny at times — seem just right. In one scene, as Willie and the reporter get into the car, off to another destination in Willie's life story, they talk about who will sit where. “Reporter smiles. ‘Okay, Mr. Sutton. I'm happy to ride shotgun.’ Sutton clears his throat. Riding shotgun — civilians use the term so blithely. He's actually driven countless times with men riding shotgun holding shotguns. There's nothing blithe about it." There's much to admire and relish about this first novel.

QUOTES FROM THE AUTHOR

[On his transition from non-fiction journalist to novelist, told to movie critic Chris Vognar] "The transition has been a wistful one, and it’s always felt unnatural,” he told me. “It’s always felt like writing with my left hand. I had a sense of mission and purpose when I worked for newspapers, like this is what I wanted to do forever. Now I just feel like I’m making it up as I go along every day. I’m constantly reactive. It can be exciting, but there’s a tinge of melancholy over the whole thing. I miss newspapers.” He misses them enough to give a pair of journalists big parts in Sutton. “This was a way of exploring my nostalgia.”

[On the character of Willie, from an interview on National Public Radio] "Sutton was the "greatest American bank robber." Growing up, Moehringer says, he remembers people "speaking about [Sutton] with curious admiration; they always mentioned him with a nod of the head and a wink." While the truth and reality are important to him as a journalist, Moehringer says, he also likes historical fiction "because there's so much about history we don't know, and novelists can get us close to it with their imagination."

[On Willie's jail cell, from an interview on ABC] "I went into a cell that was just like the one Willie would have spent years in, and it was horrifying for me. I have a touch of claustrophobia, so just to go inside, just to be led in by the curator — because it's now a national historic site — was terrifying, and my blood just stopped slugging through my veins. And I stood there and I could just imagine how you would unravel psychologically. It's not a normal cell. It's a dungeon. It was built in the early 1800s. It was world-famous instantly because it was considered so inhumane. "When Charles Dickens came to America, he said he only wanted to see two places: the U.S. Capitol and Eastern State Penitentiary. And he actually interviewed a lot of the prisoners there and upset his American hosts by writing about the suffering that they were enduring. So just the seconds that I spent in that cell was life-changing because the first thing you think to yourself is, 'I can't imagine surviving this.' And the second thing you think, if you're researching a book about Willie Sutton, is how remarkable it is that more than survive it, he had the will to live that permitted him to devise an escape."

BIO: J.R. MOEHRINGER

J. R. (John Joseph) Moehringer was born in New York City and raised by a single mother in Manhasset, Long Island, and later in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he finished high school. He graduated from Yale in 1986 and began his journalism career as a news assistant at the New York Times. In 1990 he moved to Breckenridge Colorado to work at the Rocky Mountain News and then in 1994 to the Orange County bureau of the Los Angeles Times – where his work as a Feature Writer won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for his portrait of Gee’s Bend, an isolated community in Alabama where descendants of slaves still live. His memoir, The Tender Bar, published in 2003, attracted the attention of tennis star Andre Agassi who asked J.R. to collaborate on his own memoir; and
the two wrote the best-selling Open

 BIO: DAVID HOUSTON

David Houston has appeared in leading roles in scores of plays and musicals, including Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Senex in A Funny Thing, Ben in Death of a Salesman, Major Bouvier in Grey Gardens, Horace Giddens in The Little Foxes, Mayor Shinn in The Music Man, and Sir in The Dresser. He is a published writer of fiction and non-fiction. His plays have been seen at a number of NY theatres, schools and libraries. His mystery novel Shadows on the Moon (Leisure Books) was optioned for movie production as was his Joan Crawford biography Jazz Baby (St. Martin's Press) which he also adapted for his play Jazz Baby Joan.

AS THE VOICE OF WILLIE:

BIO: RAY GOBES

Ray Gobes, Jr. is a leading man, character actor and musical comedy performer with an impressively varied resume—including The Devil in Damn Yankees, Owen in The Foreigner, Sir Evelyn in Anything Goes, Captain Keller in The Miracle Worker, Bob Cratchit and Jacob Morley in A Christmas Carol, Ali Hakim in Oklahoma, Capulet, Friar Lawrence, Prince and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Jigger in Carousel, Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, Bud Frump in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Reverend Parris in The Crucible, and Slim in Of Mice and Men. At the Engeman Theater in Northport, Ray understudied Felix Unger, Murray and Speed in The Odd Couple, and Porterhouse, Troughton and the Reporter in Run For Your Wife.

HELPFUL LINKS

 

LONG ISLAND READS: http://longislandreads.wordpress.com/
WIKIPEDIA Bio of Willie Sutton: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willie_Sutton
J.R. MOEHRINGER on Facebook: www.facebook.com/jr.moehringer

PHOTOS: WILLIE SUTTON

   

Mug shot 1934                                           Under arrest in 1952

WILLIE'S HOME TOWN: OLD NEW YORK

   
       Looking West on 41st Street in 1945               Queen Elizabeth in NY Harbor, 1940



42nd Street seen from New Jersey in the '40s

A Brooklyn street in 1900   

REVIEWS AND COMMENTS

Long Island Reads 2013: SUTTON with Ray Gobes, Jr.

Jessica Ley, Program Coordinator, Port Washington Public Library: "Excellent. A David Houston producton always delivers what is promised. I recommend this one highly."

Long Island Reads 2012: THE LOST WIFE with Gail Merzer Behrens

Alyson Richman, author of the book, at Hicksville Public Library, "David, you were wonderful and I know everyone had the same reaction as my husband and I to your performance. I hope you will continue to get invitations to do the performance even after the end of Long Island Reads. You and Gail deserve it!" Patricia Magee, Reference Librarian, Elmont Public Library: "David Houston's dramatic reading of The Lost Wife was beyond expectations. The audience was mesmerized and gave long applause at the end. Every single patron exclaimed that they loved the performance; many exclaimed it brought tears to their eyes."Debbie Dellis-Quinn, Program Director, Manhasset Public Library: "You've been bringing top-notch programming to the Manhasset Library for years, and this year you outdid yourself, David. Gail Merzer-Behrens was excellent in her role as Lenka. As I stood by the door after the show, there was not one person who did not come to me raving of how they were moved by your work and performances." Roseann Acosta, Public Relations and Programming, Hicksville Public Library: "The performance was wonderful and moving. Patrons walked out in tears. It was a beautiful reading from the book.  Kristen Jording, Adult Services, Seaford Public Library: The 'Lost Wife' performance was inspiring, and everyone who attended gave excellent feedback. Gail Merzer-Behrens was fantastic!"  

Long Island Reads 2011: SAG HARBOR

Barbara Minerd, PR/Program Coordinator, Garden City Public Library: David Houston is always so professional, a joy for program coordinators. His talent brings literature to life in an amazing way--sound effects and music, and is versatile voice is the best!" Evelyn Rothchild, Director, Oceanside Library: Excellent program, excellent presentation, outstanding preparation!" Angela Hughes, Reference Librarian, Franklin Square Public Library: "Excellent. I loved the program, and the patrons who came loved it as well. Enjoyed the program much more than the book." Maureen Hooper, Program Director, Plainedge Library: "David Houston gave a wonderful presentation. The music and sound effects added to the "feeling of place." The reader made it easy to drift away to Sag Harbor during that time! Loved it. So did all who attended."  Debbie Dellis-Quinn, Program and Community Relations Director, Manhasset Public Library: "Excellent! David Houston excels in his professionalism, always well prepared, flexible when the need arises; and he offers good quality live performances on relevant topics."

Long Island Reads 2010 THEODORE ROOSEVELT AND THE RIVER OF DOUBT

Jackie Nogan, Program Director, Levittown Public Library: "Excellent" in all categories: audience response, literary content, performance quality, sets and costumes. Barbara Minerd, Program Coordinator, Friends of the Garden City Public Library: "The mesmerized audience watched Teddy Roosevelt 'come to life' with David Houston's fine performance. The sound effects and music transported attendees to the river and jungle. Patrons paid many compliments about David's dramatic reading as they exited the program room." Jessica Ley, Program Coordinator, Debbie Dellis-Quinn, Program Director, Manhasset Public Library: "Excellent. Our audience loves the high quality of David Houston's presentations. Penny Wright, Director of Adult Programs, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton: "You and your characters were superb and truly made history come alive."  

Long Island Reads 2009 WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR with Diana Heinlein

Penny Wright, Programs and Publicity, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton: "David Houston and company have produced one high quality show after another, and 'Wait Till Next Year' is no exception. Speaking for the Rogers Memorial Library, I'm delighted that we won't have to wait till next year to have them back!" Jessica Ley, Program Coordinator, Port Washington Public Library "A David Houston production is always entertainingly educational in the most professional presentation." Nadine Connors, Cultural Program Specialist, Hewlett-Woodmere Public Library: Very good audience response, excellent performance; "I can't think of something that could have been done better." Lee Gorray, Librarian, Elmont Public Library: "This brilliant dual performance surpasses many Broadway plays. Rarely have I spent such an enjoyable afternoon."