Meet the Cast: "The Sisters Rosensweig"


by 
Beth Fhaner
 | May 14, 2018
The Cast of The Sisters Rosensweig

THE CAST: Julian Stone, Matthew Arkin, Eleanor Reissa, Amy Aquino, Riley Neldam, Emily James, Betsy Brandt and Bill Brochtrup.

A mix of SCR veterans and actors making their debut here are featured in Wendy Wasserstein’s delightful comedy, The Sisters Rosensweig. Read on to learn more about the actors’ current roles, artistic influences and what they recall about the ’90s.


Aquino,-Amy

Amy Aquino
My role in The Sisters Rosensweig is: Sara Goode, born Sara Rosensweig, the oldest of three sisters, and a successful banker living in London.
My previous SCR credits include: Last year’s The Siegel, A Feminine Ending and numerous readings.
My other credits include: Numerous NY productions including at Playwrights Horizons and Circle Repertory Company, Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles on Broadway and more recently, Wasserstein’s Third at Lincoln Center and Jonathan Tolins’ Secrets of the Trade at Primary Stages. West Coast appearances include Twelfth Night at San Diego’s Old Globe, Mark Taper Forum’s Living Out and the Geffen Playhouse’s The Underpants by Steve Martin. Films include Working Girl, Moonstruck, White Oleander, In Good Company, and the upcoming Beautiful Boy with Steve Carrell. Television includes current role as Lt. Billets in Amazon’s hit series “Bosch,” “Brooklyn Bridge,” “Picket Fences,” “Glee,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “ER,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Freaks and Geeks,” “Felicity,” and SyFy’s “Being Human.”
How do you relate to the character you’re playing in The Sisters Rosensweig? I’m one of three sisters who are very different from one another and were defined that way early on—the brainy, the beautiful and the lively. Like Sara, I was considered the brainy one—I excelled academically, and like her I attended Radcliffe College. As Sara says, no one ever called me "Gorgeous." My mother was a spitfire—attractive, vivacious, independent, opinionated—and she and I didn’t really develop a close relationship until much later in her life. And like Sara I struggled for a long time with my relationships with men. Oh, and did I mention that for a very long time I thought I had all the answers? So, more than a few parallels.
What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue acting as a career? Though I had done a lot of high school theatre, I never considered it a way to make a living (which, statistically speaking, is accurate). So in college I majored in Biology, anticipating a career as a doctor or in public health. But by the end of my junior year I admitted to myself that I was spending far more time on my extra-curricular theatre than on my major, and realized that I needed to at least give acting a try.
What play has had a lasting impression on you? Different plays move me in different ways. One that l have running in my head right now is the stunning The Band’s Visit, currently on Broadway. So simple, complete, moving and true. Working on Third with Wendy Wasserstein, shortly before she passed away, is something I will always be grateful for and never forget.
Who are your literary and artistic heroes? Michael Chabon and Herman Melville.
What do you recall about the ’90s? Any favorite television show, music or fashion trend? “ER” kinda defined that time for me—and I was lucky enough to become a recurring character. As for fashion…if there were fashion trends, I think I missed them! Kinda like Sara.


Arkin,-Matthew

Matthew Arkin
My role in The Sisters Rosensweig is: Mervyn Kant, a Jewish furrier from New York.
My previous SCR credits include?: Our Mother's Brief Affair, The Prince of Atlantis, The Whale, All the Way and The Siegel.
My other credits include: Broadway: The Sunshine Boys, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Losing Louie. Other New York credits include originating the role of Gabe in Donald Margulies’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Dinner with Friends (Drama Desk nomination). Television includes “Rescue Me” (recurring), “100 Centre Street” (recurring), “NCIS”, “Aquarius” and many episodes of the “Law and Order” franchise. Director of SCR’s Acting Intensive Program and an Adjunct Professor at Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, and I’ve taught at HB Studio in New York City.
How do you relate to the character you’re playing in The Sisters Rosensweig? Are you kidding? In real life, I'm a middle-aged Jew from New York, looking for true love. What’s to relate?
What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue acting as a career? In 1964 I watched my father jump off the Brooklyn Bridge into waiting mattresses on the set of Murray Schisgal's Luv at Broadway's Booth Theatre. After the show they let me do it myself, and that was it for me.
What play has had a lasting impression on you? I’m a big fan of Samuel D. Hunter's The Whale. Also, Donald Margulies’ Sight Unseen, and War in Paramus, by my mom, Barbara Dana.
Who are your literary and artistic heroes? Atticus Finch (my son is named after him), John D. MacDonald, Lawrence Block and the poet Richard Wilbur.
What do you recall about the ’90s? Any favorite television show, music or fashion trend? All I remember of the ’90s is the ’80s. I'm hopelessly behind the times.


Brandt,-Betsy

Betsy Brandt
My role in The Sisters Rosensweig is: Pfeni Rosensweig (formerly known as Penny)
My previous SCR credits include: Ridiculous Fraud, The Language Archive, PPF some years and a bunch of fantastic readings.
My other credits include: I am currently on “Life in Pieces” on CBS. Other television credits include “Breaking Bad,” “Masters of Sex,” “Parenthood,” “The Michael J. Fox Show”; recent films include Magic Mike, Flint and Claire in Motion, and the play Next Fall at The Geffen.
How do you relate to the character you’re playing in The Sisters Rosensweig? I think Pfeni has a sense of her life not happening in “real time” and that’s something she grapples with in the play. I also think Pfeni has a big heart, a wonderfully adventurous spirit and a lot of empathy…I love playing her.
What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue acting as a career? I saw a production of As You Like It in Stratford, Ontario, while I was a junior in high school that crystallized everything for me. That was the first time I had ever seen Shakespeare on stage, and that was it for me…I knew what I wanted to do.
What play has had a lasting impression on you? Oh...where to start?!!
Who are your literary and artistic heroes? Besides Wendy Wasserstein and Joan Didion?
What do you recall about the ’90s? Any favorite television show, music or fashion trend? Grunge, the return of Birkenstocks, the TV show “Friends” and all the style choices that went with it…for better and for worse.


Brochtrup,-Bill

Bill Brochtrup
My role in The Sisters Rosensweig is: Geoffrey Duncan, an internationally renowned British theatre director and bisexual, currently involved with the youngest Rosensweig sister, Pfeni.
My previous SCR credits include: The Real Thing, Taking Steps, Noises Off and the nasty “Lord Wessex” in this season’s Shakespeare in Love.
My other credits include: Ten years playing cheerful police administrative aide “John Irvin” on Steven Bochco's ABC police drama NYPD Blue and five seasons recurring as savvy police psychologist “Dr. Joe” on TNT's Major Crimes, as well as acting as Co-Artistic Director of Antaeus Theatre Company.
How do you relate to the character you’re playing in The Sisters Rosensweig? “Geoffrey” and I are both men of the theatre, who know the joy of a good dinner party and a good quip. But I also relate to his insecurities, and the middle-age fear of wondering if everything we’ve done in life adds up to being enough.
What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue acting as a career? I spent the summer after seventh grade doing a children’s storybook theatre play in a park in Bellevue, Washington. We had to drum up an audience by skipping through the park calling out, “Come to our show! Come to our show!” Even then I fancied myself quite the professional and I’ve never looked back.
What play has had a lasting impression on you? Perhaps my favorite play of all time is Chekhov’s The Three Sisters, which Wendy Wasserstein references several times in The Sisters Rosensweig. I have three sisters myself, so I relate very much to the family dynamic—and to the desire to “get to Moscow,” that unattainable place where we will feel secure, loved and fulfilled.
Who are your literary and artistic heroes? My artistic heroes are all the actors, directors, writers and designers who are plugging away at creating theatre, cobbling together an uncertain living, but with passion, dedication and endless determination.
What do you recall about the ’90s? Any favorite television show, music or fashion trend? I remember wearing very baggy pants with lots of pleats and thinking I looked great. I’m glad that trend has passed.


James,-Emily

Emily James
My role in The Sisters Rosensweig is: Tess Goode
My previous SCR credits include: Mr. Wolf, Flora & Ulysses
My other credits include: Stage Kiss at the Geffen, Colony Collapse at The Theatre @ Boston Court, Smoke and We Are Not These Hands at Rogue Machine, Antigone at A Noise Within and Husbands and Wives at Ensemble Theatre Company.
How do you relate to the character you’re playing in The Sisters Rosensweig? I feel that I am equally as passionate as Tessie. Tess comes to the realization that she detests her upbringing and wishes to lead a more meaningful life than her mother. Her first crack at finding meaning in life is becoming immersed in Lithuanian politics. Personally, I go in and out of being fervent about revolutionary ideas, so I have definitely experienced the one-track mindedness and the ambition that comes with wanting to be a revolutionary.
What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue acting as a career?Getting cast as Theresa in the world premiere of Rajiv Joseph's Mr. Wolf here at SCR.
What play has had a lasting impression on you? People, Places and Things by Duncan Macmillan. I saw it in Brooklyn in November. The passion of Denise Gough’s performance left me buzzing for days.
Who are your literary and artistic heroes? Recently, playwrights Zoe Kazan and Sheila Callaghan. For acting inspiration, I look to Denise Gough and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
What do you recall about the ’90s? Any favorite television show, music or fashion trend? I was a wee lass. But I remember the Spice Girls and big, cotton, oversized dresses!


Neldam,-Riley

Riley Neldam
My role in The Sisters Rosensweig is: Tom Valiunus
My previous SCR credits include: This is my first show with SCR!
My other credits include: Colony Collapse at The Theatre @ Boston Court. Romeo and Juliet, The Winter’s Tale and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Seattle Shakespeare Company. Pirates of Penzance and Oliver at 5th Avenue Theatre.
How do you relate to the character you’re playing in The Sisters Rosensweig? I’m accustomed to feeling like a fish out of water in various social situations.
What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue acting as a career? Growing up, I wanted to be Dr. Grant from Jurassic Park. I saw that movie many times.
What play has had a lasting impression on you? I saw a modern adaptation of Moliere’s Doctor In Spite Of Himself that showed me very clearly that theatre can and should be fun.
Who are your literary and artistic heroes? Eiji Yoshikawa, Dostoevsky.
What do you recall about the ’90s? Any favorite television show, music or fashion trend? I grew up in Seattle, so for me the ’90s was a lot of grunge music and flannel.


Reissa,-Eleanor

Eleanor Reissa
My role in The Sisters Rosensweig is: ​My role is Gorgeous Teitelbaum (the middle of the lovely Rosensweig sisters)​
My previous SCR credits include: ​This is my first show at SCR and I feel delighted and very fortunate to be here.
My other credits include: ​Most recently I was in the cast of Paula Vogel's Indecent on Broadway.
How do you relate to the character you’re playing in The Sisters Rosensweig? ​Gorgeous is a family person—or as she says herself ‘a people people’. I am, too. Even though I enjoy my solitary time, I enjoy and thrive in the company of other humans. She is a woman who tries to put the best face on everything. Gorgeous is also extremely positive and optimistic and she remains so​ for as long as possible. That is not exactly how I am, I'm afraid. ​I slide more easily down a darker slope.​ She is extremely hard-working and very, very resilient, which is something that is hopefully​ a part of my character. She is also unmistakably and unashamedly​ a Jewish woman. Whereas the other sisters try to put that part of their lives in the background, Gorgeous keeps it right up front. On a certain level that is a very brave thing to do. I have not always been so brave.
What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue acting as a career? ​I got into the theatre as a political act. There was a lot of political activity when I was in college and I wanted to move people into action and theatre seemed to be a way to do it. I didn’t think of it as pursuing a career. It was only later, when I landed my first paying acting job in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest that I realized that this could actually be something called a career.
What play has had a lasting impression on you? ​That is a really difficult question because there are many, many plays that have impacted my life. I would say that plays by Tony Kushner, Robert Schenkkan, Paula Vogel and yes, Wendy Wasserstein have made lasting impressions. All of those playwrights take on deep human, historical and personal issues with language that is poetic and truthful and with voices that are compelling. And, of course, funny. Oh, and how can I leave out Edward Albee?
Who are your literary and artistic heroes?​  ​That's an interesting question—who are my creative heroes and what does that mean to me. I read ​and admire Dickens; he always moves me enormously. I've read all of Philip Roth; he too tells tales that I find so funny, truthful and insightful. I appreciate artists who have taken a stand in their work as well as their life like (of course, I can't think of a single person now...).
What do you recall about the ’90s? Any favorite television show, music or fashion trend? When I think about the ’90s, I think about my own life in that decade. It was an interesting time for me. ​I was nominated for a Tony Award and one of the plays I wrote was produced at the Taper Too in L.A. and Northlight Theatre in Chicago in the ’90s. I recall some of the political/national events of the ’90s like the war in Iraq with scuds landing in Israel and the presidency of Bill Clinton. I did not pay much attention to the television world at that time, certainly it was nothing memorable for me.


Stone,-Julian

Julian Stone
My role in The Sisters Rosensweig is: Nicholas Pym
My previous SCR credits include: Man from Nebraska by Tracey Letts
My other credits include: U.S. theatre credits include And a Nightingale Sang (Indiana Repertory Theatre), Treasure Island (Cincinnati Playhouse), National Playwright’s Conference (O’Neill Theater Center), Dark Shadows (VIA Theater, NYC), Vampire Lesbians of Sodom (Provincetown Playhouse, NYC) and Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Princeton Rep Company). Television credits include “Suburgatory,” “Maron,” “Castle,” “Columbo,” “Mad About You,” “Baywatch” and “Babylon 5,” and I was a regular on “General Hospital” (ABC).
How do you relate to the character you’re playing in The Sisters Rosensweig? We both have a British passport, but politically and culturally our paths really diverge!
What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue acting as a career? The seed was planted when I saw Paul Schofield as Salieri in Amadeus at the National Theatre…the thought grew when I played Mick in The Caretaker at university…the idea flowered when I did Skinned Alive! at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
What play has had a lasting impression on you? So many…picking one…Woza Albert!
Who are your literary and artistic heroes? So many again…I’d start with and in no particular order…David Bowie, Shakespeare, Peter O’Toole, William Wordsworth, Thich Nhat Hanh, The Clash, David Lean...and more.
What do you recall about the ’90s? Any favorite television show, music or fashion trend? Culturally it wasn’t my favorite era—the ’70s and early ’80s were more creatively influential, but it was a decade of personal moments…I think of moving to LA, becoming a Dad (twice!), the Northridge quake (ugh!) and adventuring into a daytime soap opera.

Learn more about The Sisters Rosensweig and buy tickets.

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