A one-hour dramatic reading in the style of Radio Drama from

With performers David Houston and Diana Heinlein

 And with music accompaniment and sound effects



National Public Radio: "[Larson] draws upon telegrams, war logs, love letters and survivor depositions to provide the intriguing details, things I didn't know I wanted to know. . . . I would of course never want to experience first-hand what it was like to be in the water off the coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915. But I am very glad to imagine the scene, thanks to Erik Larson's thrilling, dramatic and powerful Dead Wake." — Jean Zimmerman

Kirkus Reviews::"Once again, Larson transforms a complex event into a thrilling human interest story. This suspenseful account will entice readers of military and maritime history along with lovers of popular history . . . An intriguing, entirely engrossing investigation into a legendary disaster."

NY Times Sunday Book Review: "Erik Larson is one of the modern masters of popular narrative nonfiction. In book after book, he’s proved adept at rescuing weird and wonderful gothic tales from the shadows of history. . . Maybe it’s a perverse thing to admit, but for much of the book I found myself rooting for the German submariners, sympathizing with their loneliness and claustrophobia, their mad dives and other maneuvers as they groped through the murk, the perils squeezing in from all sides. . . If Dead Wake is not (by Larson’s standards) a great book, it is an entertaining book about a great subject, and it will do much to make this seismic event resonate for new generations of readers. A century later, the Lusitania remains a daunting subject just as it remains a daunting shipwreck — a dark realm, full of secrets and lost souls." — Hampton Sides.

Richmond Times Books: "Readers looking for a swift, emotionally engaging account of one of history’s great sea disasters will find Dead Wake grimly exhilarating. Larson is an exceptionally skilled storyteller, and his tick-tock narrative, which cuts between the Lusitania, U-20 and the political powers behind them, is pitch-perfect." — Doug Childers.

The Boston Globe: "The author of best-selling historical retrospectives such as In the Garden of Beasts (love and intrigue in pre-war Nazi Germany) and The Devil in the White City (murder and architecture in the Chicago of the 1893 World’s Fair), Larson has a gift for transforming historical re-creations into popular recreations, and Dead Wake is no exception. Leaving 1,198 dead (123 of them American) in its wake, the Lusitania was a colossus — and, amid World War I tension, an irresistible target. Here, Larson painstakingly charts its rendezvous with destruction." David M. Shribman

ERIC LARSON is the author of five New York Times bestsellers, most recently Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, which hit #1 on the Times list soon after launch. His previous book was In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, which also hit #1 and remained on the printed list for 35 weeks. As a paperback, Beasts lingered on the list for 53 weeks, and spent 15 of them in the #1 spot. Movie rights were optioned by Universal Studios and Tom Hanks’ Playtone. Erik’s book The Devil in the White City stayed on the Times‘ hardcover and paperback lists for a combined total of over five years. It won an Edgar Award for nonfiction crime writing and was a finalist for a National Book Award. The option to make a movie of the book was acquired in November 2010 by Leonardo DiCaprio. In August, 2015, DiCaprio formed a new alliance to make the film, which Martin Scorsese will direct.

Erik graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied Russian language and culture. He received a masters in journalism from Columbia University. After a brief stint at the Bucks County Courier Times, Larson became a staff writer for The Wall Street Journal, and later a contributing writer for Time Magazine. He has written articles for The Atlantic, Harper’s, The New Yorker, and other publications.

Larson lives in Seattle with his wife and three daughters. Numerous beloved rodents are buried in his back yard.


David Houston
(516) 293-2638

$325 fee includes actors, reading stands, music and effects equipment,
and travel (Long Island); facility is asked to supply a performance area
about 8' x 12' and amplification if the space is large 
Running time is about 65 minutes 


Scroll Down or Jump with These Links

The Performers

Schedule of Performances

The Story

Photos for Publicity

Background music for this Presentation

Reviews and Comment from
Long Island Reads Performances

The Performers

DIANA HEINLEIN. Reviewing a production of The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, LONG ISLAND NEWSDAY said, "Diana Heinlein is solid and hilarious at the center of the angst-ridden comedy; watching her wallow in comic pathos in the Long Island premiere of Charles Busch's lively surprisingly complex comedy is a delight." About her performance in Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers, THE SUFFOLK COUNTY NEWS said, "Diana Heinlein offers a performance so moving that the swing of emotions will leave you dizzy." Diana has acted myriad roles in Simon classics including Mrs. Banks in Barefoot in the Park, Kate in both Broadway Bound and Brighton Beach Memoirs, Cookie in one production of Rumors and Claire in another.  She starred in Houston's The Ghost of Dorothy Parker. Other memorable portrayals include Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker, and Maggie in Dancing at Lughnasa.  

DAVID HOUSTON. His many roles in musicals comedies and dramas include Major Bouvier in Grey Gardens, Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Mayor Shinn in The Music Man, Ben in Death of a Salesman, Herr Shultz in Cabaret and Horace in The Little Foxes. His original plays, including Murder and Madness and Poe, A Rodgers and Hart Audition, The Last Dance, Abe Lincoln in the 21st Century, and Great Scott and Zelda have been seen at a number of Long Island libraries. For the past dozen or so years, he has provided readings in the style of radio drama for LONG ISLAND READS. Other such readings include the Sherlock Holmes novel Study in Scarlet, Steinbeck's Travels with Charley, and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. Among his 14 published books, his Joan Crawford biography Jazz Baby was published by St. Martin's Press, his sci-fi novels Gods in a Vortex and Wingmaster and his mystery novel Shadows on the Moon were published by Leisure Books, and several novelizations of TV and movie scripts by Tower Publishing. 

Schedule of Performances, 2017

Thursday, March 2, 2:00 p.m.. — Bethpage Public Library
Monday, April 3, 2:00 p.m. — Manhasset Public Library
Tuesday, April 4, 10:30 a.m. — Franklin Square Public Library
Thursday, April 6, 1:00 p.m. — Hewlett-Woodmere Public Library
Friday, April 7, 7:00 p.m. — Northport - East Northport Public Library
Tuesday, April 11, 7:00 p.m. — Bellmore Public Library
Wednesday, April 12, 12:30 p.m. — East Meadow Public Library
Friday, April 14, 2:00 p.m. — Jericho Public Library
Saturday, April 15, 2:00 p.m. — Long Beach Public Library
Friday, April 21, 12:15 p.m. — Port Washington Public Library
Sunday, April 23, 2:00 p.m. — Farmingdale Public Library
Monday, April 24, 2:30 p.m. — Elmont Public Library
Thursday, April 27, 2:30 p.m. — West Babylon Public Library

Music for This Presentation

By Erich Wolfgang Korngold, including String Quartet No. 1, Much Ado About
Nothing, Marietta's Lied
(for violin), and film scores for The Sea Hawk,
Anthony Adverse,
and Between Two worlds.

The Story Wake: On May 1, 1915, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were anxious. Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone, and for months, its U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era's great transatlantic "Greyhounds" and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. He knew, moreover, that his ship - the fastest then in servicecould outrun any threat.

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger's U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small
hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and moreall converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

It is a story that many of us think we know but don't, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour, mystery, and real-life suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope Riddle to President Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love. Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster that helped place America on the road to war.

 Photos for Publicity
Lucitania in 1907
German U-Boat                                                            German U-Boat believed to be the wreck of the U-20

Lucitania sinks May 7, 1915

New York Times front page May 8, 1915


Erik Larson


David Houston                                                   Diana Heinlein       


   Comments and Reviews

DEAD WAKE by Erik Larson [2017]

Angela Hughes, Librarian, Franklin Square Public Library: "I enjoy your programs. The books are explained in an interesting way every year. Excellent audience response."


LEAVING TIME by Jodi Picoult [2016]
Angela Hughes, Librarian, Franklin Square Public Library
: "Excellent. The performance was fantastic. The work came alive through your performance." Donna Smith, audience participant, Comsewogue Public Library: "Very well done. The accompanying music helped set the mood. If I had not read the book, I would be eager to find out what happens." Barbara Minerd, Program Coordinator, Friends of Garden City Library: "The talent shown by both performers in portraying many different voices was impressive. As usual, the music and sound effects were perfect match for the script. Although we had a small audience (12) on a beautiful day, everyone was mesmerized!" Keith Klang, Head of Adult Services, Port Washington Public Library: "Content: Good; Audience Response and Performance Quality: Very Good."

Phyllis Cox, Program Coordinator, Jericho Public Library:
"If 1 equals poor and 5 equals excellent, I give you all 10s!"
Barbara Minerd, Program Coordinator, Garden City Public Library: "It was easy to slip into the story with the talents of David and Diana. The story was well paced with perfect music and sound effects. We had 23 in attendance, who were all mesmerized. Thank you for always providing a professional, quality program."

THE LOST WIFE by Alyson Richman [2012],
Alyson Richman, author of the book: "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."

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 accompanying 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."

WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR by Doris Kearns Goodwin [2009]
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."

THE COLOR OF WATER by James McBride [2007]
Jude Schanzer, Program Director and Publicity, East Meadow Public Library: "Stupendous; meticulous thought obviously given to the material and the venue in which it was to be performed. The audience was visibly moved."  Marion Waller, Professional Theatrical Director, at Copiague Library: "The performances were mesmerizing.  You "saw" these people and never had to wonder who was speaking.  Eras and places were evoked to maximum effect." Melissa Gabrielle, Programs, South Country Library, Bellport: "A powerful and wonderful performance that had a great impact on the audience.  The high school students who attended commented that they found that the actors made the story even more relevant to their experiences in class."

TRAVELS WITH CHARLIE by John Steinbeck [2005]
Millie Scott, Librarian, West Babylon Public Library
: "The West Babylon Literary Club was looking forward to your presentation and again were not disappointed!  You gave an excellent program.  Thanks!"  Kate Horan, Adult Services Librarian, South Country Library : "I am so impressed with how you coordinated text selections with the music of Aaron Copland.  I'm sure you could tell by the audience's enthusiastic response that everyone loved the various voices you highlighted in our narrative journey across America.  Travels With Charley is probably Steinbeck's most accessible book, but you made it absolutely delightful!  I hope you'll come back to do more dramatic readings."