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red fern theatre
red fern theatre
red fern theatre
Artwork by Alexandra Williams

The Cast of A Piece of My Heart and the RFTC Board with Shirley Lauro, Judy Jenkins-Gaudino, and Ann Kelsey

© 1993, VWMF, Glenna Goodacre, Sculptor

Photos Courtesy of Steve Williams.

Shirley Lauro, Playwright


The Cast of Piece of My Heart
red fern theatre
Christopher Clawson Siho Ellsmore
Elizabeth Flax   Catherine Gowl
red fern theatre
Emilie Elizabeth Miller Kendall Rileigh
red fern theatre  
Pheonix Vaughn  


Christopher Clawson, The American Men
Siho Ellsmore*, LeeAnn
Elizabeth Flax*, Steele
Catherine Gowl
, Martha
Emilie Elizabeth Miller, Whitney
Kendall Rileigh*, Sissy
Pheonix Vaughn, MaryJo

*Actors appear courtesy of
Actors Equity Association.
Equity Approved Showcase.

Production Team

Melanie Moyer Williams, Director
Jessica Greenberg, Lighting Designer
Summer Lee Jack, Costume Designer
Adrienne Kapalko, Set Designer
Laura Luciano , Stage Manager







Photos Courtesy of Kirsten Doukas.

A Piece of My Heart by Shirley Lauro
Directed by Melanie Moyer Williams
Featuring Christopher Clawson, Siho Ellsmore*, Elizabeth Flax*, Catherine Gowl, Emilie Elizabeth Miller, Kendall Rileigh*, and Pheonix Vaughn

*Actors appeared courtesy of Actors Equity Association.  Equity Approved Showcase.

Based on true stories related in the book of the same name by Keith Walker, A Piece of My Heart centers on a group of young military and civilian women who go to the Vietnam War.  Spanning twenty years, their true stories, songs and music call up a tumultuous era that changed them and America forever. A powerful play with striking resonance for today.

"The play, A Piece of My Heart, by Shirley Lauro, has become the nation’s most enduring theatrical production that deals with the Vietnam War."
    -The VVA Veteran

A Piece of My Heart
was performed May 1-11, 2008 at 78th Street Theatre Lab (236 West 78th Street @ Broadway).

Please read our excellent review from the off-off-broadway review!

Press Representation by Lanie Zipoy @ 646-284-3517.

New York IT Awards

A Piece of My Heart is registered with the New York Innovative Theatre Awards, new awards specifically for
Off-Off-Broadway theatre, and your vote will make a difference.  Vote for us at!

Show Schedule:

Thursday, May 1 @ 8pm
Friday, May 2 @ 8pm
Saturday, May  3 @ 8pm
Sunday, May  4 @ 3pm
Monday, May  5 @ 8pm
Thursday, May  8 @ 8pm
Friday, May  9 @ 8pm
Saturday, May 10 @ 8pm
Sunday, May  11 @ 3pm AND 8pm

Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation
Chosen for A Piece of My Heart by Shirley Lauro

The mission of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation is to promote the healing of Vietnam women veterans through the placement of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial on the grounds of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.; to identify the military and civilian women who served during the Vietnam war; to educate the public about their role; and to facilitate research on the physiological, psychological, and sociological issues correlated to their service. The Foundation has the support of every major veterans group in the country including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and more than 40 other diverse organizations.
For more information, please visit

The following talkbacks were held in conjunction with A Piece of My Heart:

Thursday, May 1 Shirley Lauro, Playwright – A Piece of My Heart
Friday, May 2 Shirley Lauro, Playwright – A Piece of My Heart
Ann Kelsey, Department of the Army Civilian, Army Special Services
Saturday, May 3 Ann Kelsey, Department of the Army Civilian, Army Special Services
Joan Furey, Army Nurse Corp
Sunday, May 4 Joan Furey, Army Nurse Corp
Judy Jenkins-Gaudino, M.S.W., L.C.S.W, Army Special Services
Thursday, May 8 Judy Jenkins-Gaudino, M.S.W., L.C.S.W, Army Special Services
Susan O’Neill, RN, US Army
Friday, May 9 Lana Mae Noone, Vietnam "Operation Babylift"
Saturday, May 10

Talkback and Q&A followed by a Reception
Shirley Lauro, Playwright – A Piece of My Heart
Edie Meeks, RN, Board of Directors Vietnam Women's Memorial Foundation
Carol A. Ogg, SFC US Army Retired

A special thank you to Josie’s for donating food for the reception.

About the Speakers…

Joan Furey, Army Nurse Corp - 71st Evacuation Hospital, Pleiku

A recipient of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Distinguished Career Award, Joan Furey served in Vietnam as an Army Nurse in the Post-OP/ICU at the 71st Evac Hospital in Pleiku in 1969 and received a Bronze Star for Meritorious Service.  She was co-editor with Lynda Vandevanter of Visions of War: Dreams of Peace, an anthology of poetry by women Vietnam Veterans. 

Judy Jenkins-Gaudino M.S.W., L.C.S.W

Judy was in Vietnam from September 1967 to August 1970 with Army Special Services as a civilian Recreation Specialist under the Department of Defense.  A specialist in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Judy spent 15 years counseling Vietnam veterans and their families.

Ann Kelsey, Department of the Army Civilian (DAC)

Ann Kelsey served in Vietnam from August 1969 until August 1970 as a librarian with Army Special Services, the agency responsible for coordinating morale and recreation services for the military.

Edie Meeks, RN, Board of Directors Vietnam Women's Memorial Foundation

Edie served in Vietnam as a Nurse from 1968 to 1969.  She also serves on the Board of Directors for the philanthropy partnered with this play - Vietnam Women's Memorial Foundation

Lana Mae Noone, Vietnam "Operation Babylift", April 1975

Lana is an Author, Speaker, Archivist, and Living Historian.  She is the recipient of the Vietnam Babylift Humanitarian Award, bestowed upon her by the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation.  She is the author of Global Mom: Notes From a Pioneer Adoptive Family.

Carol A. Ogg, SFC US Army Retired

Carol A. Ogg was in Vietnam with the 509th Radio Research Group from 1970 to 1971.  She also worked closely with the 509th’s support of the Santa Maria Orphanage in Gia Dinh Province outside of Saigon.  She is a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Service.

Susan O’Neill, RN, US Army

Susan O’Neill served in Vietnam as Army Nurse from 1969 to 1970.  She is the author of Don't Mean Nothing: Short Stories of Viet Nam.


About the Playwright, Shirley Lauro
A PIECE OF MY HEART premiered at Actors Theatre of Louisville, and opened the 20th season for  Manhattan Theatre Club, receiving The Barbara Deming Prize, The Susan Blackburn Prize (finalist) and The Kittredge Foundation Award.  Since then, it’s received over 1,000 productions throughout the world including Australia, Singapore, England, Ireland, Spain, Hawaii, and South Africa where Ms. Lauro, sponsored by The U.S. Information Agency and Natal Performing Arts Council, lectured on the play at 5 major universities.  The play has been selected twice for special performances in D.C., once at Arlington Cemetery gates, as part of Vets Day salute to Vietnam Vets.  Recently it was designated by Vietnam Vets of America, Inc., as “The most enduring play in the nation on Vietnam.”

Shirley has enjoyed great success with her latest plays.  ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT garnered a "2006 Joseph Jefferson nomination as 'Best New Play in Chicago'." CLARENCE DARROW'S LAST TRIAL received a "2006 Carbonell nomination as 'Best New Play in Florida'," and won a National Endowment to the Arts "Access to Excellence Award".  In April "AKA" debuted The Actors Studio.

Her “breakthrough play” on Broadway, OPEN ADMISSIONS, received one Tony nomination, a Theater World Award, two Drama Desk nominations, the Dramatists Guild’s Hull-Warriner Award, and was a New York Times pick for “Ten Best Plays of the Year."  Ms. Lauro subsequently dramatized the play as a CBS Special for Jane Alexander.  The play, a 2007 production of The Theater Project, was chosen for “POLITICAL STAGES: Plays That Shaped a Century.”

Shirley has received The Guggenheim Fellowship, 3 National Endowment for Arts Awards, and The New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship.  A Director of the Dramatists Guild Fund, Shirley served for 12 years on the Dramatists Guild Council, and 8 on their Steering Committee. Other Affiliations: Writer’s Guild East, The Ensemble Studio Theatre (Member’s Council), The Actors Studio Playwright’s Unit, PEN, The Author’s Guild, The Women’s Project and Productions.

For more information on Ms. Lauro, please visit



Cast Bios:

Christopher Clawson, The American Men

Christopher is a recent transplant from rural Virginia where he starred as Captain John Smith in Journey of Destiny, an original teleplay by Victoria Racimo commissioned by CBS for the 400th Anniversary of Jamestown. In Dublin he co-wrote and starred in Scarlett Fever, a play for which he won an award from the Irish Times.  Favorite roles include Nick in Over the River and Through the Woods, Tyler Shaw in Brooklyn Boy, and the junkie he played on Law & Order.   Recent film & television credits include Gods and Generals, State of Play, Sherman's March for the History Channel, Law & Order, Law and Order Criminal Intent and the acclaimed HBO mini-series event John Adams.  He holds a BA from the College of William & Mary and has studied acting at RADA and Trinity College Dublin. Chris is grateful that he could lend his talents to such a worthy cause (his grandmother was a nurse in the WAC at Walter Reed in WWII and took care of Richard Tregaskis). He is actively seeking representation:

Siho Ellsmore*, LeeAnn

Credits Include Off Broadway: Jewtopia (Westside Theatre) NYC:  Wasps (Target Margin Theatre), Cleansed (Immediate Theater), Antigone (NAATCO) and many others. Siho has worked regionally with the George Street Playhouse and NJ Repertory Company. Film: Abhidiya (Genco Films), The First Three Lives of Stuart Hornsley (Big Son Productions), Midas’ Son (Fluid Motion). Television: Neighbours (Grundy Australia), VH1. She is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. For more information please visit:

Elizabeth Flax*, Steele

Off Broadway credits include Elektra (The Actors Studio), Music Deep Rivers My Soul (Jazz at Lincoln Center), Coriolanus: Shakespeare Unplugged (Judith Shakespeare Co.), Duos (Playwrights Horizons), Mademoiselle Colombe, Waltz of the Toreadors (Century Center).  Regional theatre credits have included Death and the King’s Horseman (Syracuse Stage), The Old Settler, The Little Foxes (Triad Stage), Betty’s Summer Vacation (Pittsburgh Public Theatre), A Piece of My Heart (Stamford TheatreWorks), Proposals(Barter Theatre), Another Part of the Forest (Cleveland PlayHouse), A Cup of Change (Walnut Street Theatre Co.), Rumors (Theatre Virginia).  Television and film appearances include Law & Order: SVU (recurring E.R. Nurse), Law & Order: CI, Law & Order, The Sopranos, HBO’s Everyday People, Third Watch, NY Undercover, NY News, All My Children, Another World.  A director as well, her AUDELCO Award-winning play The American Jesus Christ was chosen for the Lincoln Center Library’s Theatre on Film Collection.  Ms. Flax dedicates her performance to the men and women who serve in the U.S. military.

Catherine Gowl, Martha

Catherine has performed as a Bat at the Flea as Milton in The Director, Mrs. Dolan in Len Jenkins' Christmas Song, and most recently as Marisa Tomei's understudy in Will Eno's Oh the Humanity and Other Exclamations. Other recent roles include Cybel in The Great God Brown; Avdotia in a blessed unrest's contemporary adaptation of Chekhov's Ivanov, Nick; Masha, Sonya, Olga and Varya in C4: The Chekhov Project; and Miss Girl in The Delicate Business of Boy and Miss Girl. Catherine will spend this summer at the Virginia Shakespeare Festival, and will be starting the Old Globe MFA acting program in the fall. BA: Harvard.

Emilie Elizabeth Miller, Whitney

Emilie, along with being one of its co-founders, is also the Director of Philanthropic Development for the Red Fern Theatre Company.  She is formally trained as an actor and Red Fern is her first production endeavor.  Emilie has appeared in each of the Red Fern Theatre Company's past six shows.  Emilie is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the British American Dramatic Academy.

Kendall Rileigh*, Sissy

Kendall is thrilled to be working with Red Fern again after playing Berthe in Who Will Carry the Word?!  National Tours: Great Expectations; Charlotte’s Web.  NY: Spartacus; Julius Caesar; The Melting Pot; Twas the Night Before; The Revenants; The Tempest.  Regional: Romeo & Juliet; Midsummer Night’s Dream; Twelfth Night; The Seagull; The Cherry Orchard; The Miss Firecracker Contest; The Lonesome West; Sonnets for an Old Century; Antigone.  Training: Duke University; Moscow Art Theatre; NY Circus Arts Academy.  Kendall also enjoys writing; five of her plays have been produced.  Affiliations: AEA, AFTRA.  Thanks to Melanie, Shirley, Laura, and cast!

Pheonix Vaughn, MaryJo

This is Pheonix's first appearance with Red Fern Theatre Company, and she is honored to be a part of such a powerful piece of theater.  Having just moved to New York City by way of Los Angeles, this is her second production since her arrival.  She recently appeared in The Best Party Ever at the Richmond Shepard Theater.  In her home town of Sacramento, Pheonix has appeared in over a hundred regional and local musicals and plays.  Some of her favorite credits include Linda in Blood Brothers, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, and Audrey in Little Shop Of Horrors.  Her Los Angeles credits include Juliet in The People vs. Friar Laurence (written and directed by Second City alumnus Ron West), and she has originated roles in the musicals Fools, Shakespeare's Greatest Hits, and Trombone.  For more information about Pheonix please visit

Production Team Bios

Jessica Greenberg, Lighting Designer

Jessica is so happy to continue working with Red Fern. New York lighting credits include: The Long Christmas Ride Home, Found A Peanut, Stars in a Dark Sky, The Exonerated, Who Will Carry the Word? (Red Fern Theatre), Ana 3/11, A River Apart (Century Productions NYC), Don't Go Home for the Holidays (Calamity Carolers), and DeCADence (Rising Sun Performance Company). Jessica is also the co-founder of The Co-op Theatre and recently produced their New York premiere of Ruby Red at Dixon Place.  Jessica received her BA from Hampshire College with a self-designed concentration in lighting, directing, and producing.  To learn more about her work, please visit

Summer Lee Jack, Costume Designer

Recent credits include:  Who Will Carry the Word? for RFTC, The Wild Party at the Gallery Players, MACCABEAT! at the New York Musical Theater Festival, Kiss and Makeup and Horatio for the NY International Fringe Festival, You Can't Take It With You at T. Schrieber Studio, Measure for Measure with the  New Lions Theatre Company  and at the 52nd Street Project. 

Adrienne Kapalko, Set Designer

Who Will Carry the Word? is Adrienne's fourth time working with the Red Fern Theatre Company. Previous shows with RFTC include Found a Peanut, The Exonerated, and Who Will Carry the Word?   Set Design credits include: The House of Yes (The Neighborhood Playhouse), The Marriage of Figaro (Purchase College), and Bat Boy: The Musical (St. John's University). Assistant design credits include:  Gypsy directed by Arthur Laurents (assistant designer/City Center), Almost Maine (assistant designer/The Daryl Roth), Tall Grass (assistant designer/The Beckett Theatre). Other credits include: The Marriage of Figaro (designer/Purchase Opera), All About Us (assistant designer/Westport Country Playhouse), 1776 (assistant designer/The Guthrie), Disney Live! Mickey's Magic Show (assistant designer/National Tour), Hairspray (assistant designer/Johannesburg, South Africa). Adrienne graduated with a BFA in scenic design from SUNY Purchase.

Laura Luciano, Stage Manager

Laura is thrilled to be a part of another Red Fern Theatre production!  For the last year and a half Laura has acted as stage manager for the Red Fern Theatre Company.  Other credits include: Polaroid Stories (director/SUNY New Paltz), Striking Chords (playwright/Creative Place Theatre), Dust (production assistant/Soho Think Tank), Henry Kissinger (stage manager/NY Fringe Festival), Kate Smith: The Original American Idol (stage manager/dir. Vincent Scarza) and Tumor Humor: He's Malignant, She's Benign (stage manager/NY Fringe Festival) and Who Will Carry The Word? (Madeleine/Red Fern Theatre).  Laura received a BA in both performance and design technology from SUNY New Paltz.

Melanie Moyer Williams, Director

Melanie, a graduate of Duke University, is also co-founder and Executive Artistic Director of the Red Fern Theatre Company.  Her credits for the company include Who Will Carry the Word?, The Exonerated, The Long Christmas Ride Home, Found a Peanut, Two Rooms, and Patient A.  Last year, she directed the initial reading of Stars in a Dark Sky by R.E. Vickers for Lime Rock Press, Inc which will have its final staged reading this May. For Woodframe Productions, Melanie directed Henry Kissinger by John Attanas in the NY Fringe Festival where they received rave reviews. Most recently, she directed a reading of his new play Memorial Days.  She has also directed A Tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber with the Youth Symphony Orchestra of El Salvador in El Salvador with Wanderlust Theatre Company. She directed That is the Question in the Philadelphia Fringe Festival.  Other New York credits include Medea excerpts for CYPRECO and the New York Public Library; Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, When the World Was Green and Icarus’s Mother for the Michael Chekhov Theatre Company.