Available March 15 to May 15, 2020

Celebrating LONG ISLAND READS 2020
A Performance Reading In the Style of Radio Drama, From  

With two actors: David Houston and Diana Heinlein / Melanie Lipton (alternating)
 Script Adaptation by David Houston

The Story

Eleven-year-old Nedda Papas is obsessed with becoming an astronaut.
In 1986, in a small Florida Space Coast town, her dreams seem almost within reach if she can
just grow up fast enough. Her father, however, wants the opposite. A scientist recently laid off from
NASA, he devotes himself to extending Nedda's life just a little longer. The result is an invention that
alters the fabric of time. Amid the erupting chaos, Nedda must confront her father and his secrets  ̶ 
the ramifications of which will irrevocably change her life, her community, and the entire world!
The Story is about fathers and daughters, women and the forces that hold them back, what
progress looks like, and what it really means to sacrifice for the greater good.


PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY: "Swyler’s beautiful story, told in eloquent prose, induces shivers of wonder. This meditation on time, loss, and the depth of human connection is both melancholy and astonishing."

LIBRARY JOURNAL: "[Swyler] offers a moving, often heartrending story with lyrical grace. Simply gorgeous."

BOOKPAGE: "[B]ends genres as it explores how the past intrudes on the present . . . plenty of science fiction elements, [the novel is] also a coming-of-age story. Swyler has set herself an ambitious task. But the novel is well-paced, with a satisfying twist near the end."

KIRKUS REVIEWS: "Love and loss compel a brilliant scientist to defy the laws of physics . . . .  Grand in scope and graceful in execution, Swyler's latest is at once a wistfully nostalgic coming-of-age tale and a profound work of horror-tinged science fiction."

VULTURE: "A tender and ambitious journey through space and time, Light From Other Stars contains stunning twists and turns along the way from Nedda’s childhood to her later life aboard a spacecraft bound for Mars."

MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW: "Exquisite prose in an ambitious novel told in two timelines. It's hard to imagine a sci-fi book so focused on pure, deep emotion while centered on the Earth and the wonders of space. Light from Other Stars hits big issues: loneliness, the bond between parent and child; grief; death and what happens to us after death . . . Plain and simple, I loved this book."

NYLON: "A masterful story that hops through time to tell a tale of love and ambition, grief and resilience . . . full of joy and wonder, a reminder to never stop looking up into the stars and the infinite spaces in between them.

The Author


ERIKA SWYLER is a graduate of New York University. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, WomenArts Quarterly Journal, VIDA, Catapult, and elsewhere. Her work as a playwright has received note from the Jane Chambers Award.

Born and raised on Long Island's North Shore, Erika learned to swim before she could walk, and happily spent all her money at traveling carnivals. Today she lives on Long Island with her husband and a mischievous rabbit.

The Book of Speculation, 2015, was her debut novel. Light From Other Stars, her second, was published in 2019.


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',
basic lighting, and amplification if the audience space is large; 

running time is about 60 minutes 


Scroll, or leap with these links:



 Author Bio

Contact Information

 Performer Bios

Scheduled Performances

Reviews and Comments


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." 

Diana has acted myriad characters in Neil 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. Other memorable, and very different, portrayals include Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker, and Maggie in Dancing at Lughnasa. She starred in Houston's The Ghost of Dorothy Parker, played five (quick change!) celebrities of the '40s in his A Rodgers and Hart Audition, and joined David for many LONG ISLAND READS events.

DAVID HOUSTON has played, among many roles, 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, The Old Actor in The Fantasticks, and Horace Giddens in The Little Foxes. 

His original plays, including Murder and Madness and Poe and The Ghost of Dorothy Parker, have been seen at a number of Long Island libraries and schools. 
Among his 14 published books, his Joan Crawford biography Jazz Baby was published by St. Martin's Press, his mystery Shadows on the Moon was published by Leisure Books, as were his science fiction novels Alien Perspective and Gods in a Vortex. Readings in the style of radio drama include Snow in August, the Sherlock Holmes novel Study in Scarlet, Travels with Charley, To Kill a Mockingbird, Frankenstein, and Fahrenheit 451. He has provided radio-style adaptations for LONG ISLAND READS every year since 2002

  MELANIE LIPTON is equally at home in dramas, comedies and musicals. Her starring roles include Lilli in Kiss Me Kate, Tracy in High Society, Maggie in The Man Who Came to Dinner, 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 starred in a number of
David Houston's shows:
as Joan Crawford in
Jazz Baby Joan, Zelda in Great Scott and Zelda, Adele Astaire in Fred and Adele The Last Dance, and five quick-change celebrities of the 1940s in A Rodgers and Hart Audition. She has been David's partner for many of his radio-style readings, for LONG ISLAND READS and other plays.

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 Performances 2020

Tuesday April 7, 7:00 p.m.: LONG ISLAND READS: LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS — Baldwin Public Library

Monday April 13, 1:00 p.m.: LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS — East Meadow Public Library

Thursday April 30, 2:30 p.m.: LONG ISLAND READS: LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS — West Babylon Public Library

   About LONG ISLAND READS Radio Style Readings

SPACEMAN by Mike Massimino [2018]
Jessica Ley, Program Coordinator, Port Washington Public Library
: "David Houston and Diana Heinlein at their best -- as usual!"  Deborah Dellis-Quinn, Program Director, Manhasset Public Library: "David Houston's script was remarkable. He captured the best and most interesting essence of Mike Massimino's book with clarity, and with historic references which were important to the story. The audience particularly commented on Massimino's childhood dreams coming to fruition." Christine Parker-Morales, Adult Services Librarian, Comsewogue Public Library: "From a patron comment card: 'They do consistently well. Makes you want to read the book!'"


DEAD WAKE by Erik Larson [2017]

Angela Hughes, Librarian, Franklin Square Public Library: "Excellent. The performance was fantastic. The work came alive through the performance. Excellent audience response!" Carol Abel, Adult Programmer, West Babylon Public Library: "Excellent and very professional as always." Nadine Connors, Cultural Program Specialist, Hewlett-Woodmere Public library: "It was a rainy day so our attendance was lower than expected. But you could hear a pin drop. The audience was transfixed by the performances and the thrilling story. "David Houston can take any book chosen by Long Island Reads and create a script that illuminates the heart of the story

THE LOST WIFE by Alyson Richman [2012],
Alyson Richman, author of the book: "David, you and Gail [Merzer Behrens] 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."
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."

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."