Premiere Performances
Coe Hall, Planting Fields Arboretum
April 4 and 17, May 15, 2016

The cruise-ship endeavor as glorified in books, plays, memoirs and movies—1844 to today. Diana and David perform “in the style of radio drama”with touching tales including that of missionaries returning to a new life in America; romance, and with music and comedy from the Broadway stage—including a beautiful short scene from Noel Coward’s epic Cavalcade, and a ridiculously funny ceremony by Christopher Durang in which a ship’s captain attempts to conduct a burial at sea and a wedding simultaneously. Underneath there’s the lush symphonic music of Erich Korngold featuring The Sea Hawk.  


David Houston
(516) 293-2638 –

$325 fee includes actors, reading stands, music and effects equipment,
and travel (Long Island and Queens); facility is asked to supply a performance area
about 8' x 12' and amplification if the space is large 
Running time is about 60 minutes 


Scroll, or Leap with these Links:

The Performers

Schedule of Performances

Photos for Publicity



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." 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. David 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 and Horace Giddens in The Little Foxes.  His original plays, including Great Scott and Zelda, 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 and his mystery novel Shadows on the Moon was published by Leisure Books. His numerous "readings in the style of radio drama"  include Pete Hamill's Snow in August, the Sherlock Holmes novel Study in Scarlet, Steinbeck's Travels with Charley, Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, and On the Case: Christie Mysteries (with the one-act "Getting Away With Murder."

Schedule of Performances

Tuesday, March 27, 2018, noon St. Ann's Episcopal Church, Senior Luncheon
Saturday, June 18, 2017, 2:30 pm Bronx Library Center
Thursday, November 16, 2017, 2:30 p.m. Suffolk YCC, Commack
Thursday, February 18, 2016, 2:00 pm Manhasset Public Library
Monday, April 4, 2016, 2:00 pm Planting Fields Arboretum, Coe Hall
Sunday, April 17,2016, 2:00 pm Planting Fields Arboretum, Coe Hall
Sunday, May 15, 2016, 2:00 pm Planting Fields Arboretum, Coe Hall

Photos for Publicity

The first purpose-built Cruise Ship: Prinzessin Viktoria Luise, 1901

The White Star Oceanic, 1899, largest ship in the world when it was built

Adriatic luxury yacht/cruiser Seagull II (1952) could carry 700 passengers

Titanic sails for New York

Dining under the stars: Grace Line's Santa Rosa, NY to Peru, 1928

 Queen Mary arrives in New York harbor, June 20, 1945

 The 24th largest cruise ship today: Disney Dream

The "boardwalk" inside today's largest cruise ship Allure of the Seas

Music of Erich Wolfgang Korngold

The Sea Hawk
(film score), The Snowman (tone poem),
Baby Serenade
(concert piece), Between Two Worlds (film score),
Fairy Tale Pictures
(tone poem), Much Ado About Nothing (suite)
"Marietta's Lied"(for violin and piano) Die Tote Stadt (opera)


  • Bruns, Brian David: CRUISE CONFIDENTIAL, a hit below the waterline; Travelers’ Tales, an imprint of Solas House, Inc., Palo Alto, CA; 2008

  • Coward, Noel: PLAY PARADE Volume One; William Heinemann Ltd., London etc., 1934
    The scene of newlyweds at sea is from Cavalcade
    by Noel Coward. The play premiered in London in 1931. It focuses on three decades in the life of a quintessential British family and their servants—beginning in 1900 ending on New Year’s Eve in 1929. Set against major historical events of the period, the spectacular production involved a huge cast and massive sets and took advantage of the enormous stage of the Drury Lane Theatre with its hydraulics and moving components. The film adaptation in 1933 won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and the 1970s television series Upstairs, Downstairs was based on the play.

  • Davenport-Hines, Richard: VOYAGERS OF THE TITANIC; Harper Collins, New York, NY, 2012

  • Durang, Christopher: TWENTY-SEVEN SHORT PLAYS; Smith and Kraus, Hanover, NH, 1995 The captain performing a burial at sea and a wedding simultaneously is from Christopher Durang’s comic play Titanic, which sheds no light at all on the sinking. Off-Broadway in 1976, it starred Sigourney Weaver as a woman with a three personalities. The play didn’t run very long, causing the playwright to say, “One should never call a play Titanic, as this is too great a temptation for critics to say Titanic sinks, and Durang goes down with his ship, etc., etc. – all of which happened.”

  • Howard, Linda: BURN (novel). Ballantine Books; New York, NY, 2009 

  • Klein, Ross A.: CRUISE SHIP BLUES: The Underside of the Cruise Industry; New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, BC, Canada, 2002.

  • Lotz, Sarah: DAY FOUR (novel). Little, Brown and Company; New York, NY, 2015 

  • Server, Lee: THE GOLDEN AGE OF OCEAN LINERS; Todtri Productions, New York NY, 1996.
    Technically a coffee table picture book, it is also a noteworthy source of statistics, back-stories, anecdotes, and calendars of events.

  • Ward, Douglas: BERLITZ CRUISING AND CRUISE SHIPS 2016; Berlitz Travel Publishers.

  • Williams, Julie Hedgepeth: A RARE TITANIC FAMILY; the Caldwell story of survival. New South Books, Montgomery Alabama, 2010. The story of missionaries and their voyage was found in this book.


From Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore or The Lass That Loved a Sailor: “I Am The Captain Of The Pinafore.” Pinafore opened in London in 1878, ran for 571 performances, and became an international sensation. In Noël Coward’s Broadway musical Sail Away, 1961, Elaine Stritch, playing a social director on a Mediterranean cruise, sang “Sail Away” and “Why Do the Wrong People Travel?” Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, 1934, 1962, 1987, set on a cruise ship heading for New York, provided our “Bon Voyage.” (The show also included several standards: “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “You’re the Top,” “Anything Goes.”) Not all of the music of Titanic: The Musical is ominous; we’ve slipped in bits of “Doing the Latest Rag” and the waltz “No Moon.”

   Comments about Literary Entertainments

David Houston, Rick Heuthe, Melanie Lipton, Steve Corbellini, and Diana Heinlein

Elsa Eisenberg, Weekend, Group Tour, and Volunteer Coordinator, Coe Hall at Planting Fields Arboretum: >"I loved the concept and thought it was a delightful show, thoroughly enjoyable." [At Coe Hall, Michael Bertolini played Hart.] Barbara Minerd, Adult Program Director, Garden City Public Library: "Our full-capacity audience were so attentive with this entertaining program. It was clever, funny, and amazing that the many characters portrayed were actually on a few very talented actors/vocalists!" Ruth McCormick, Co-Chairman, Programs, Community Club of Garden City and Hampstead: "All of the performers were excellent. The program exceeded our expectations, and we received extremely positive feedback from the audience. We try to plan a very special program for the end-of-season event, and we certainly succeeded when we chose this particular group." Jessica Ley, Program Coordinator, Port Washington Public Library: "Excellent. Charming and witty; extremely well imagined." Jude Schanzer, Programs and Publicity, East Meadow Public Library: "Reservations were sold out 10 minutes after the show was announced! And the audience loved it. They raved! Even the next day, they were seeking me out to ask to have the performers back again." Linda White, Program Coordinator, Elmont Memorial Library: "The audience response has been tremendous. They are still talking about the performances. They're telling their friends, and their friends are telling me how sorry they are for not being there!" 

Michael Bertolini as Edgar Allan Poe in MURDER AND MADNESS AND POE

Suzanne Molczan, Adult Program Coordinator, Hillside Public Library: "The content, set design, acting ability, and aura all combined to produce a spellbinding program that made for a most enjoyable evening."  Lorene Doherty, Adult Program Coordinator, North Shore Public Library: "Superb! This performance exceeded my expectations. The set, the props, the music created an effective 'suspension of disbelief.' Michael Bertolini magically carried this 'suspension' 10-fold by his portrayal of Edgar Allan Poe. Excellent!" Linda White, Program Coordinator, Elmont Public Library: "Patrons loved it. Murder and Madness and Poe was one of your best presentations. The performance was superb."  Andrea Crivello, Curatorial Assistant, Planting Fields Arboretum: "I took note that the 80+ audience were captivated the entirety of Michael's performance as Poe. The perspective of the drama (script), along with the skills of the actor, and perfectly coordinated musical insertions, made it a wonderful experience. I heard only positive feedback and compliments as guests exited the event." Barbara Minerd, Program Coordinator, Garden City Public Library: "Michael Bertolini was perfect. The audience paid many compliments on his performance. The music background added an extra mood of spookiness."

Diana Heinlein as Miss Marple, Rick Heuthe as Hercule Poirot in ON THE CASE: CHRISTIE MYSTERIES

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 read some Christie novels again." 

David Houston as Noёl Coward, Rick Heuthe as Cole Porter in LET'S DO IT!

Phyllis Cox, Program Director and Publicity, Jericho Public Libray: "Excellent. Thank you again for a wonderful performance. You keep making me look so good! [75 patrons expected, 128 came]." Frances Altemose, Head of Community Services, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook: "The program was delightful and entertaining. Top notch! The audience was hanging on every word and had an appreciation for the clever lyrics and dialog. Yvette M. Postelle, Assistant, Adult Programs, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton: "Every patron passing me as they left that evening had glowing comments. The audience was captivated, and I noticed quite a few swaying to the music! Many said we should have more programs of this sort." Staff, Queens Library Forest Hills: "Several members of the audience stopped by to comment on how much they enjoyed the play. I will be sure to pass along a recommendation for your return to Queens Library. Connie Ellis, Programs, Peconic Landing Retirement Community: "Excellent. Our audience thought you were terrific. The length of the show [one hour] was appropriate for them."  


Penelope Wright, Director of Adult Programs, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton: "Bravo! Another coup! You could have heard a pin drop during the entire hour of David Houston's portrait of this brilliant complicated woman.  Ms. Heinlein's portrayal was delivered lovingly and with great intelligence; it was warm, witty (OK, some thanks to Dorothy), and always completely engaging. I would recommend this production to anyone anywhere!" Marcia Johnson, Adult Program Coordinator, North Shore Public Library: "As usual the professionalism showed. It was a delightful script deftly handled by Diana. I feel like I got to know dear old Dorothy at little bit." Tracey Simon, Program Coordinator, Lynbrook Public Library: "I could not attend the production myself, my misfortune; but the feedback I received afterwards was very positive, from the performance to the costumes and sets." Jessica Ley, Program Coordinator, Port Washington Public Library: "David Houston's productions continue to educate entertainingly; we've never been disappointed in the talent he and his staff of performers exhibit.  'Dorothy Parker' is excellent in all categories" [audience response, script, literary content, performance, set and costumes]." Barbara Minerd, Program Director, Garden City Public Library: "Diana's performance was brilliant. The play was excellent."


Charles Sleefe, Library Director, Mineola Memorial Library: "Excellent. A great addition to our year-long Lincoln celebration." Tauhirah K. Abdussabur, Customer Service Specialist, Forest Hills Community Library, Queens: "Patrons [a full house] stayed through the entire performance; you could hear a pin drop. They clapped and laughed. They  focused on the performer. Many spoke with the Mr. Houston after the presentation and expressed their appreciation."  Karin L. Briller, Librarian (Programming), Franklin Square Public Library: Excellent script and performance. "The people who saw it enjoyed it very much. It's interesting to hear Lincoln's words spoken. The whole stage/set design and music worked fantastically together." Emma S. Clark Library, Setauket, Programs: Excellent script, performance, audience response; "A well done performance." Christine Langerfeld, President, Friends of the Montauk Library: "An absolute pleasure! I wish all performers were as gifted and easy to work with. The professionalism is evident from the time of booking through the end of the performance." Christopher Kohan, President, Victor D'Amico Institute of Art: "I am writing to say how much I enjoyed your Lincoln talk at the Montauk Library. There can never be enough said about Mr. Lincoln; there is always something new to learn."