Index (and links to less active productions at bottom of the index page)  
Abe Lincoln in the 21st Century  |  Coming Together Coming Apart  |  To Kill a Mockingbird  |  The Dickens!  
Fred and Adele Astaire: The Last Dance  |  Mark Twain: Telling Tales  |  The Belle of Amherst  |  Fahrenheit 451 
Study in Scarlet
  |  Joy Comes in the Morning  |  Wait Till Next Year


A Performance Reading In the Style of Radio Drama, with Music and Effects

Jonathan Rosen's
Joy Comes in the Morning  

In Cooperation with the SAJES "On The Same Page" reading project
With actors Gail Merzer Behrens and David Houston
 Script Adaptation by David Houston

Deborah Green is a woman of passionate contradictions—
a rabbi who craves goodness and surety while wrestling with her own desires and with the sorrow and pain she sees around her. Her life changes when she visits the hospital room of Henry Friedman, an older man who has attempted suicide, and meets his son, Lev, a science reporter. Henry’s parents were murdered in the Holocaust.  Lev’s faith in relationships is running low (he abandoned his
fiancée at the altar). As Lev and Deborah begin a fragile dance of piety and skepticism, they find themselves creating something sacred and comforting as they are drawn into a world of tragedy, frailty, love, and, finally hope.

Hailed for his tenderly crafted, powerful explorations of humanity, Jonathan Rosen turns his eye to the very nature of hope in his mesmerizing novel Joy Comes in the Morning.  He is the author of The Talmud and the Internet and the novel Eve’s Apple. His essays have appeared in the New York Times and The New Yorker, among other publications, and he serves as editor of Nexttbook  He lives in New York City with his wife and daughters.

The New York Times Book Review: “What a pleasure it is to see such a serious and yet playful novel in this hot-button time of religion.  Not since E.L. Doctorow’s City of God have we seen such a literary effort to plumb the nature of belief.  He’s irreverent even in the middle of the most reverent scenes, like a Heller or a Roth complete with sardonic social commentary.”

American Jewish World: "Finally a novel about an American rabbi with sense and sensibility, written with felicity, extraordinary talent and full knowledge of Jewish life and learning.  Rosen is a superb writer and a serious explorer of Jewish American life today.  A wonderful read." 

Newsday: “Charming yet serious – the Jewish equivalent in style, smarts and topicality to Anna Quindlen’s and Kent Haruf’ bestselling morality tales.  Radiant.” 

The Chicago Tribune: “A love story with suave prose, delightful narrative inventiveness, and compelling ideas [and] wonderfully comic turn of events in the novel’s final third.”

The Washington Post: “It is impossible to avoid being charmed by what can only be described as a modern Jewish fairy tale.”  

The Boston Globe: "At a time when best-selling books on religious life include bonbastic visions of the apocalypse or religion as grand conspiracy, Joy Comes in the Morning is a minor miracle.  It arrives much like the way birds appear to the characters in the book: with a delicate wonder.  Rosen provides a much-needed glimpse into authentically religious lives.  A deeply moving story."

The New York Sun: "Fills the reader with happiness at the most unexpected moments."

The Miami Herald: "Not since Saul Bellow has an American novelist created characters so unabashedly determined to unleash their souls, to burst their spirit's sleep."

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Contact and technical information

The Performers

Scheduled Performances

About Other Readings in the Style of Radio Drama


David Houston
(516) 293-2638 –

$350 fee includes actors, reading stands, music and effects equipment, and travel (Long Island); facility is asked to supply a performance area about 8' x 10', basic lighting, 
and microphones if the space is large 

Running time is about 65 minutes 

The Performers

GAIL MERZER BEHRENS (Deborah and Women’s Voices) Co-Host of Long Island Lights on cable, Gail has appeared in network TV shows One Life to Live, As The World Turns, and Sex and the City and in several films including Shadayim, Hot Chocolate, Divine Intervention, and the recent remake of The Manchurian Candidate. Her many Long Island stage appearances include the roles of Blanche in Brighton Beach Memoirs, Mollie in The Mousetrap (David Houston was Major Metcalf in that production), Honey in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, Claire in Proof, Chris in Neil Simon’s Rumors, Laura in Laura (a rare staging of the play version of the movie), Sarah in Beau Jest, Cecily Pigeon in The Odd Couple, Claudia in Nuts, and Wilma in Lovers and Other Strangers. She has a B.A. in Musical Theatre from the University of New Hampshire . 
DAVID HOUSTON (Narration, Lev and Men’s Voices) His leading roles include
Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Sir in The Dresser, Mayor Shinn in The Music Man, Senex in A Funny Thing Happened, Ben in Death of a Salesman, Herr Shultz in Cabaret and Horace Giddens in The Little Foxes.  He is a published and produced writer of fiction and non-fiction.  His original hour-long plays, The Last Dance, Lillie Alone, Great Scott and Zelda, Murder and Madness and Poe, Jazz Baby Joan, Let's Do It! and The Ghost of Dorothy Parker have been seen at a number of Long Island libraries.  Among his 14 published books, his Joan Crawford biography Jazz Baby was published by St. Martin's Press; his mystery novel Shadows on the Moon was published by Leisure Books.  His "dramatic readings in the style of radio drama" presented at Long Island libraries include Pete Hamill's Snow in August, the Sherlock Holmes novel
Study in Scarlet, Steinbeck's Travels with Charley, Mark Mills's Amagansett, Three Short Stories by I.B. Singer, and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.

Scheduled Performances

Westhampton Free Library, Sunday October 7, 2007, 2:00 p.m. 
Long Beach Public Library, Wednesday November 7, 2007, 2:00 p.m.
Manhasset Public Library, Wednesday December 5, 2007, 1:00 p.m.
Jericho Public Library, Monday January 14, 2008, 2:00 p.m.
The Bryant Library, Roslyn, Thursday January 17, 2008, 1:00 p.m.
Port Washington Public Library, Friday February 15, 2008; 12:15 p.m. 
Woodbury Jewish Center, Wednesday April 2, 2008, 10:30 a.m.
Workmen's Circle at Nassau Cultural Center, Sunday May 4, 2008, 2:00 p.m.
Circle Lodge, Hopewell Junction NY, July 29, 2008, 8:30 p.m.

   About Readings in the Style of Radio Drama

JOY COMES IN THE MORNING by Jonathan Rosen (David, with Gail Merzer Behrens as Deborah)

Milton Pincus, Chairman, Workmen's Circle at Nassau Cultural Center, East Meadow: "A moving, thoughtful, memorable presentation."  Phyllis L. Cox, Programmer, Jericho Public Library: "Wonderful, as always. The patrons thought both David and Gail did a beautiful reading."  Jessica Ley, Program Coordinator, Port Washington Public Library: "Excellent. Our patrons look forward to David's productions, finding them entertaining AND educational."Roberta Weinstein-Cohen, SAGE Program Coordinator, Woodbury Jewish Center, "The performance was excellent and really held the attention of the audience."  

THE COLOR OF WATER by James McBride (David as Narrator, Debbie Starker as Ruth)

Barbara Minerd, Public Relations Director, Shelter Rock Public Library: “Well, if this radio drama doesn't inspire those who haven't read the book to read it, I don't know what will.  The program transported me to another world." 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." Penelope Wright, Director of Adult Programs, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton : "A brilliant adaptation of a remarkable book.  The superbly acted production conveys the pure essence of Mr. McBride's poignant tribute to his remarkable mother." 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."

THREE STORIES OF ISAAC BASHEVIS SINGER (solo reading by David Houston)  
“Yentyl The Yashiva Boy,” “Alone,” and “Gimpel The Fool”

Edie Kalickstein, Program Director, Long Beach Public Library: "I so enjoyed Isaac Bashevis Singer.  Well done!"  Tracey Simon, Program Coordinator, Lynbrook Public Library: "Outstanding program on Isaac Bashevis Singer.  The audience found the program a lovely interpretation of Singer's work. Excellent use of music"  William Sabatino, Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Shelter Rock: "The program as it was given was excellent, but I'd have liked more biographical information in the opening." Patti Paris , Adult Services Librarian, Bellmore Memorial Library: "The program was very well attended, very interesting, well abridged, excellent delivery." 

TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY by John Steinbeck (David as Steinbeck and his Characters)

Millie Scott, Librarian, West Babylon Public Library: "The West Babylon Literary Club was looking forward to your presentation and again were not disappointed!  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."   Fran Carey, patron, Half Hollow Hills Community Library: "I loved Copland's music accompanying the lively and animated reading; this was a delightful and engaging performance." Tracey Simon, Program Coordinator, Lynbrook Public Library: "The feedback was quite positive and inspired a few members of the audience to read the book and join us for the book discussion the following week!" 

SNOW IN AUGUST by Pete Hammil (David as the Rabbi, Matt Stashin reading boys' voices)

Lorraine Paesano and Mary Frayne, Librarians, Middle Country Public Library: “The accents, the shifting of characters, the musical accompaniment – all added to a magical reading." Beth Saltalamacchio, Cultural Program Specialist, Plainview Old Bethpage Library: "This program gave me a better sense of the whole book than I thought was possible.  The segments were well planned, and the actors did a wonderful job creating characters and voices."  Evelyn Pusinelli, Program Coordinator, Hicksville Public Library: "The audience was enthralled with the reading; the presentation held their attention.  Excellent."  Barbara Minard, Program Director, Shelter Rock Public Library: "The performance was much more than I expected.  Music selections augmented the reading perfectly.  Foreign accents beautifully transported the audience to a different time and place.  All in all, it was relaxing, entertaining, and very professional."  

FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury (Melanie Lipton, Matt Satshin, David Houston)

Lorraine Paesano, Adult Services Librarian, Middle Country Public Library at Centereach: "As always, a polished professional performance.  Being joined by Matt Stashin and Melanie Lipton added to the overall impact.  Listening to the selected pieces made me think of how scary it would be if people's beliefs and freedoms were to be challenged and mandated by others.  Thanks for a great reading!"  Deborah Dellis-Quinn, Program Director, Manhasset Library "FAHRENHEIT 451 was excellent – not only for our adult audience, but would be valuable for high-school students.  The pace was quick, keeping the audience involved in the characters and plot throughout the program.  The message of Ray Bradbury's novel was powerfully portrayed by the cast, and respectfully scripted." Jessica Ley, Program Coordinator, Port Washington Public Library: "I've come to expect excellence from a David Houston production, and I've never been disappointed.  FAHRENHEIT 451 was outstanding."  Clare Y., Port Washington Library patron: "An excellent performance, it kept my attention."