A one-hour Performance Reading in the style of Radio Drama
For Theaters, Libraries and Schools

Mary Shelley began writing her masterpiece in 1815 when she was 18 years old.
It was published 3 years later, 202 years ago. Since then her thrilling story has spawned
more than 70 movie adaptations (starting with Edison’s silent version in 1910), 16 television shows,
7 stage plays, 8 comic books, and 8 derivative novels – many of them drastically unfaithful to Mary's
haunting and horrific vision.
Our dramatic reading, with music and sounds, time-travels
back to learn heart-stopping truths from Mary’s manuscript pages.

Scroll down or hop with these links

contact information

brief bio of Mary Shelley

bio of Mary Shelley, long version

bio of performers

photos for publicity

synopsis of Frankenstein

reviews and references

music for this production

contact information

David Houston
(516) 293-2638; DH@davidhouston.net
700 Fulton Street, M-1, Farmingdale, New York 11735

$325 package includes all:
actors, reading stands, music equipment
and travel (
Long Island and Queens);
acility is asked to supply an 8' x 12' acting space
and amplification if venue is large (clip-on or stand mics)

resentation is about
65 minutes

Photo: Getty Images

brief bio of Mary Shelley

Mary was an English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer.  She was born in Somers Town, London, August 30, 1797. She was the child of feminist philosopher, educator, and writer Mary Wollstone­craft, and of the philosopher, novelist, and journalist William Godwin. In 1814, Mary began a romance with one of her father's political followers, Percy Bysshe Shelley. They married in late 1816, after the suicide of Percy 's first wife. In 1816, when Mary was 18, the couple spent a summer with Lord Byron near Geneva, Switzerland, where Mary conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus – which was published in 1818. In 1822, Percy drowned when his sailboat sank during a storm. A year later, Mary returned to England and from then on devoted herself to the upbringing of her son and a career as a professional author. The last decade of Mary Shelley’s life was dogged by illness, probably caused by the brain tumor that was to kill her at the age of 53, February 1, 1851

bio of 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, she played five celebrities of the '40s in his A Rodgers and Hart Audition, and in his Christie Mysteries she played Miss Marple.
  DAVID HOUSTON. An actor and published writer of fiction and non-fiction, his Joan Crawford biography Jazz Baby (St. Martin's Press), was optioned for movie production, as was his mystery novel Shadows on the Moon (Leisure Books). His original stage plays—The Ghost of Dorothy Parker, Great Scott and Zelda, Mark Twain Telling Tales, Murder and Madness and Poe, On the Case: Christie Mysteries, and The Dickens!—have been seen at a number of Long Island libraries and other venues. . In addition to directing productions of his own plays he directed The Belle of Amherst, The Odd Couple Female Version, Sylvia, and Social Security for theaters and schools. As an actor, David has appeared in leading roles in scores of plays and musicals, including Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Major Bouvier in Grey Gardens, Ben in Death of a Salesman, Herr Shultz in Cabaret and Horace Giddens in The Little Foxes.
  MELANIE LIPTON (alternate)is equally at home in drama, comedies and musicals. Her starring roles include Lilli in Kiss Me Kate, Tracy in High Society, Maggie in The Man Who Came to Dinner, Luisa Contini in Nine, Mrs. Lovett in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible, Meredith in Bat Boy, Eve in Applause, Desiree in A Little Night Music, Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst, and Lois Lane in a rare revival of It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman. She has performed in several David Houston shows: Joan Crawford in Jazz Baby Joan, Zelda Fitzgerald in Great Scott and Zelda, Adele Astaire in Fred and Adele Astaire The Last Dance, and five quick change celebrities of the 1940s in A Rodgers and Hart Audition. Melanie spent two seasons as teacher and chore­ographer at Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Center and holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Syracuse University.

scheduled p

Bryant Library, Roslyn—Sunday, October 27, 2019, 2:00 p.m.
Islip Public Library—Tuesday, October 29, 2019, 7:00 p.m.
Planting Fields Arboretum, Coe Hall—Saturday, October 20, 2018, 2:00 p.m.
Planting Fields Arboretum, Coe Hall—Sunday, October 21, 2018, 2:00 p.m.
Hillside Public Library, New Hyde Park—Friday, October 26, 2018, 7:00 p.m.
Planting Fields Arboretum, Coe Hall—Saturday, October 27, 2018, 2:00 p.m.
Planting Fields Arboretum, Coe Hall—Sunday, October 28, 2018, 2:00 p.m.
Port Washington Public Library—Friday, December 14, 2018, 12:15 p.m.


photos for publicity

                          Rothwell painting of Mary Shelley                                                    Poster advertising Thomas Edison's 1910 film of FRANKENSTEIN

Elsa Lanchester and Boris Karloff in Universal Picture The Bride of Frankenstein, 1935                             Victor's laboratory in Universal Picture Frankenstein, 1931                       

Frontispiece of the 1831 edition of the book                                             San Francisco Ballet premiere of FRANKENSTEIN , February 23, 2017             

"The Tragedy of FRANKENSTEIN"

music for this production

From Bernard Herrmann’s chamber pieces: Souvenir de Voyage for clarinet and string quartet, and
string quartet; and from his background scores for film and television:
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir,
The Twilight Zone.

references and reviews of
readings "in the style of Radio Drama"

FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley (Diana Heinlein and David Houston
Sal Filosa, Librarian, Port Jefferson Free Library: I received several "It was excellent" comments as patrons were leaving. [Evaluation: Audience Response, Interest,
Attention, all "Excellent"]  Library Staff, Hillside Public Library: The performance was a very unusual but very enjoyable twist. I liked this style of performance and would like to see more of it. Great show overall!" Library Staff, Hillside Public Library: "The passion displayed throughout this program was inspiring. It was a delightful revisit of the classic story."

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee (David as men and boys' voices, Diana Heinlein as Scout and women)
Penny Wright, Director of Adult Programs, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton
: "I cannot remember being more moved in any theater than I was by your and Diana's performance of Harper Lee's courtroom scene which contains so much truth about good and evil. I wish everyone could see it."  Jessica Ley, Program Coordinator, Port Washington Public Library: "Excellent. Another outstanding performance: well thought out, planned, and performed."  Lori Abbatepaolo, Librarian, Middle Island Public Library: "The performers (Diana Heinlein and Steve Corbellini) were excellent, and the adaptation and staging provided a powerful experience of Harper Lee's book. It was filled with emotion and the audience seemed completely caught up in the performance." Jean Scanlon, Program Director, Freeport Memorial Library: "The performers take you back to the 1930's South. The variations in voice make you feel as though all the litigants and the children are on stage. The reading was wonderful." Bonnie Russell, Program Director, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor: "Excellent" in all categories, including Audience Response, Literary Content, and Performance. 

WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Diana Heinlein and David Houston)
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 a 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."

O. HENRY'S CHRISTMAS GIFT (Diana Heinlein and David Houston)
Barbara Minerd, Program Coordinator, Friends of the Garden City Public Library: "Thank you for today's excellent performance -- perfect for the holiday and just the right length. Forty-five patrons were absorbed and delighted." Penny Wright, Programs and Publicity, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton
: "David Houston and Diana Heinlein put us all in the Christmas spirit with their delightful readings of O. Henry's stories."

ON THE CASE: CHRISTIE MYSTERIES (Diana Heinlein as Marple, Rick Heuthe as Poirot, David Houston as narrator)
Kristen Jording, Library Programmer, Seaford Public Library: "The performance, content and production were fantastic! The audience simply enjoyed it; they can't wait for the library to have another show with David Houston. Jude Schanzer, Programs and Publicity, East Meadow Public Library: "As always, the performance, content and production values were stellar. The audience was completely enthralled!" Tina Holinski, Assistant Library Manager and Children's Librarian: "I thoroughly enjoyed this program! The actors are expert! I love their British accents. The props and musical accompaniment complement the plays so beautifully and precisely. Bravo!" Erin L. Blatt, Programming and Outreach Librarian, Franklin Township Public Library, Somerset, NJ: "Our audience had nothing but kind things to say about the performance—interesting, fun, different, and engaging, to name a few." Jessica Ley, Program Coordinator, Port Washington Public Library: "As I would expect, the Christie show is another stellar production from David Houston and company. Top ratings in all categories." Yvette M. Postelle, Administrative Assistant, Adult Programs, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton: "Very good;  Well received by the audience; very positive comments from the patrons as they left. A few actually mentioned that they were inspired to pick up and read some Agatha Christie novels again." Michelle Young, Program Director, Oceanside Library: "Excellent. David Houston's shows are as consistent as he is to work with: great every time."

THE LOST WIFE by Alyson Richman (Gail Merzer Behrens and David Houston)
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."

synopsis of Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus

In a series of letters to his sister, Robert Walton, captain of a ship bound for the North Pole, recounts the progress of his dangerous mission. The mission is interrupted by seas of impassable ice. Trapped, Walton encounters Victor Frankenstein, who has been traveling by dog-sled and is weakened by the cold. Walton takes him aboard ship, helps nurse him back to health, and hears the fantastic tale of the monster that Frankenstein created.

Victor first describes his early life in Geneva. At the end of a blissful childhood, Victor enters the university of Ingolstadt to study natural philosophy and chemistry. There, he is consumed by the desire to discover the secret of life and, after several years of research, becomes convinced that he has found it. Victor spends months feverishly fashioning a creature out of old body parts. One climactic night, in the secrecy of his apartment, he brings his creation to life. When he looks at the monstrosity that he has created, however, the sight horrifies him. After a fitful night of sleep, he runs into the streets, wandering in remorse. Victor runs into his old friend Henry Clerval, and takes his friend back to his apartment. Though the monster is gone, Victor, sickened by his horrific deed, prepares to return to Geneva.

Just before departing Ingolstadt, however, he receives a letter informing him that his brother William has been murdered. Victor hurries home. While passing through the woods where William was strangled, he catches sight of the monster and becomes convinced that the monster is his brother’s murderer. Victor finds that Justine, a gentle girl who had been adopted by the Frankenstein household, has been accused. She is tried, condemned, and executed. Victor grows despondent with the knowledge that the monster he created is responsible for the death of two innocent loved ones.

Hoping to ease his grief, Victor takes a vacation to the mountains. While he is alone one day, the monster approaches him. The monster admits to the murder of William but begs for understanding. Lonely, shunned, and forlorn, he says that he struck out at William in a desperate attempt to injure Victor, his cruel creator. The monster begs Victor to create a mate for him, a monster equally grotesque to serve as his sole companion.

Victor refuses at first, horrified by the prospect of creating a second monster. The monster is eloquent and persuasive, however, and he eventually convinces Victor. After returning to Geneva, Victor heads for England, accompanied by Henry, to gather information for the creation of a female monster. Leaving Henry in Scotland, he secludes himself on a desolate island and works reluctantly at repeating his first success. One night, struck by doubts about the morality of his actions, Victor glances out the window to see the monster glaring in at him with a frightening grin. Horrified by the possible consequences of his work, Victor destroys his new creation. The monster, enraged, vows revenge, swearing that he will be with Victor on Victor’s wedding night.

Later that night, Victor takes a boat out onto a lake and dumps the remains of the second creature in the water. The wind picks up and prevents him from returning to the island. In the morning, he finds himself ashore near an unknown town. Upon landing, he is arrested and informed that he will be tried for a murder discovered the previous night. Victor denies any knowledge of the murder, but when shown the body, he is shocked to behold his friend Henry Clerval, with the mark of the monster’s fingers on his neck. Victor falls ill, raving and feverish, and is kept in prison until his recovery, after which he is acquitted of the crime.

Shortly after returning to Geneva with his father, Victor marries Elizabeth. He fears the monster’s warning and suspects that he will be murdered on his wedding night. To be cautious, he sends Elizabeth away to wait for him. While he awaits the monster, he hears Elizabeth scream and realizes that the monster had been hinting at killing his new bride, not himself. Victor returns home to his father, who dies of grief a short time later. Victor vows to devote the rest of his life to finding the monster and exacting his revenge, and he soon departs to begin his quest. Victor tracks the monster ever northward. In a dogsled chase, Victor almost catches up with the monster, but the sea beneath them swells and the ice breaks, leaving an unbridgeable gap between them.

At this point, Captain Walton encounters Victor, and the narrative catches up to the time of Walton’s fourth letter to his sister. Walton tells the remainder of the story in another series of letters to his sister. Victor, already ill when the two men meet, worsens and dies shortly thereafter. When Walton returns, several days later, to the room in which the body lies, he is startled to see the monster weeping over Victor. The monster tells Walton of his immense solitude, suffering, hatred, and remorse. He asserts that now that his creator has died, he too can end his suffering. The monster then departs for the northernmost ice to die.

biography of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (long version)

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was an English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer. She was born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin in Somers Town, London, August 30, 1797. She was the child of feminist philosopher, educator, and writer Mary Wollstonecraft, and of the philosopher, novelist, and journalist William Godwin. Her mother died of puerperal fever shortly after Mary was born, and Godwin was left to bring up Mary, along with her older half-sister, Fanny. Godwin was often deeply in debt. Feeling that he could not raise the children by himself, in December 1801, he married Mary Jane Clairmont, a well-educated woman with two young children of her own.

Together, the Godwins started a publishing firm called M. J. Godwin, which sold children's books as well as stationery, maps, and games. However, the business did not turn a profit, and Godwin was forced to borrow substantial sums to keep it going.

Though Mary received little formal education, her father tutored her in a broad range of subjects. He often took the children on educational outings, and they had access to his library and to the many intellectuals who visited him, including Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the former vice-president of the United States Aaron Burr.[13] Godwin admitted he was not educating the children according to Mary Wollstonecraft's philosophy as outlined in works such as her A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), but Mary Godwin nonetheless received an unusual and advanced education for a girl of the time.

In 1814, Mary began a romance with one of her father's political followers, Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was already married. Together with Mary's stepsister Claire, Mary and Percy travelled through Europe. Upon their return to England, Mary was pregnant with Percy's child. Over the next two years, she and Percy faced ostracism, constant debt, and the death of their prematurely born daughter. They married in late 1816, after the suicide of Percy Shelley's first wife.

In 1816, when Mary was 18, the couple famously spent a summer with Lord Byron near Geneva, Switzerland, where Mary conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein. The Shelleys left Britain in 1818 for Italy, where their second and third children died before Mary Shelley gave birth to her last and only surviving child, Percy Florence Shelley.

In 1822, Mary’s husband drowned when his sailing boat sank during a storm. A year later, Mary returned to England and from then on devoted herself to the upbringing of her son and a career as a professional author.

Until the 1970s, Mary Shelley was known mainly for her efforts to publish Percy’s works and for her novel Frankenstein, which remains widely read and has inspired many theatrical and film adaptations. Recent scholarship has yielded a more comprehensive view of Mary Shelley’s achievements. Scholars have shown increasing interest in her literary output, particularly in her novels, which include the historical novels Valperga (1823) and Perkin Warbeck (1830), the science-fiction novel The Last Man (1826), and her final two novels, Lodore (1835) and Falkner (1837). Shelley's works often argue that cooperation and sympathy, particularly as practiced by women in the family, were the ways to reform civil society.

This view was a direct challenge to the individualistic Romantic ethos promoted by Percy Shelley and the Enlightenment political theories articulated by her father, William Godwin. The last decade of Mary’s life was dogged by illness, probably caused by the brain tumor that was to kill her at the age of 53, February 1, 1851

Taken from the more-extensive biography of Mary Shelley in Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Shelley.]