A One-hour Reading in the Style of Radio Drama from

Jodi Picoult’s

leaving time

With Two Performers

David Houston and Diana Heinlein or Gail Merzer Behrens (alternating)

With music accompaniment and sound effects



"Readers can usually count on blockbuster novelist Jodi Picoult for two things. First is a smart, accessible yarn with a suspenseful puzzle at its core that will keep readers enthusiastically turning the page. Second is impressive insight into any number of topical issues. From donor children and terminal illness to teen suicide and social issues like class and race, Picoult does her homework, and her main themes are thoroughly researched and engrossingly presented. With this new novel, Leaving Time, her fans will not be disappointed." – Boston Globe"

Poignant . . . an entertaining tale about parental love, friendship, loss.”Washington Post

"Best-selling, reliably entertaining and thought-provoking, Picoult's newest multifaceted novel is redolent with elephant lore that explores the animals' behavior when faced with death and grief, and combines a poignant tale of human loss with a perplexing crime story that delivers a powerhouse ending." – Booklist

"Picoult is a master in dissecting and describing the tangle of family relationships and the counterbalance of love."Tampa Tribune .

Jodi Picoult (pronounced pi-COE) was born and raised in Nesconset. She had two short stories published while still a creative-writing student at Princeton. After graduation in 1987, she was a technical writer for a Wall Street firm, a copywriter for an ad agency, a textbook editor, and an 8th grade English teacher – before entering Harvard to pursue a master’s in education. She married Tim Van Leer in 1989, whom she had known at Princeton, and while she was pregnant with their first child, she wrote her first novel, Songs of the Humpback Whale. In 2007 she wrote 5 issues of Wonder Woman for DC Comics. Currently there are more than 14 million of her books in print in 35 countries. Four of her 23 novels have been made into movies for Lifetime Television, and her My Sister’s Keeper became a feature film in 2009 starring Cameron Diaz and Alec Baldwin. She and husband Tim and their three children live in Hanover, New Hampshire,
with dogs, donkeys, geese, chickens, ducks, and a cow or two.


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

Music for this Presentation

About the Story

Photos for Publicity

Reviews and Comments
From Previous Long Island Reads

The Performers

GAIL MERZER BEHRENS. In NYC, Gail played Madge in the Off-Broadway production of Reflections of a Heart, Marge in a staged reading of Sleep Tight at the Abington Theater, and Susan in a reading of Nina at the famed Roundabout Theater. She has appeared in several films including the remake of The Manchurian Candidate. Her many Long Island stage appearances include the roles of Blanche in Brighton Beach Memoirs, Mollie in The Mousetrap, Honey in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, Claire in Proof, Laura in Laura (a rare staging of the play version of the movie), Beth in Dinner With Friends, Cecily Pigeon in The Odd Couple, and Wilma in Lovers and Other Strangers. She recently played Monica (the lead) in the world premiere of Lie of Omission at Studio Theater. She took Advanced Scene Study with actor/director Austin Pendleton at HB Studios in New York and has a B.A. in Musical Theatre from The University of New Hampshire. 

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 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 and his mystery novel Shadows on the Moon was published by Leisure Books. 

Schedule of Performances, 2016

Tuesday, April 5, 10:30 am—Franklin Square Public Library (Gail)*
Thursday, April 7, 2:00 pm—Long Beach Public Library (Gail)*
Sunday, April 10, 3:00—Shelter Rock Public Library (Diana)*
Monday, April 11, 7:00 pm—Comsewogue Public Library (Diana)
Wednesday, April 13, 2:00 pm—Jericho Public Library (Diana)*
Thursday, April 14, 2:00 pm—Manhasset Public Library (Gail)*
Wednesday, April 20, 7:00 pm—South Huntington Public Library (Gail)*
Thursday, April 21, 2:00 pm—Garden City Public Library (Diana)*
Monday, April 25, 2:00 pm—Elmont Public Library (Diana)*
Thursday, April 28, 2:00 pm—West Babylon Public Library (Gail)*
Friday, April 29, noon—Port Washington Public Library (Diana)*

Music for This Presentation

From film scores by Jerry Goldsmith, including Congo,
Under Fire, Supergirl, The Blue Max
and Chinatown.

About the Story

For more than a decade, young Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe she was abandoned, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and peers over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved; yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.

Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest: Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons, only later to doubt her gifts, and Virgil Stanhope, the jaded police detective who originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.

 Photos for Publicity
These were taken from internet "photos of elephants" where there are many hundreds more you could choose from.

Jodi Picoult


David Houston        Diana Heinlein        Gail Merzer Behrens


   Comments and Reviews

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."