Friday, November 20, 2015

"More Fog, Please"

My New Book

After many months, and much rewriting, editing, re-re-writing, re-re-re-writing, more editing, proofreading, and a great deal of joy and angst and everything in between (every author can relate!), “More Fog, Please” – 31 Years Directing Community and High School Musicals has been available for sale on Amazon for just over a week.

To my great delight, the book is doing well. People are buying it! People like it! I already have four five-star reviews, and for us independent authors, those reviews are like standing ovations (especially the five-star ones). If you’re interested you can click on the link below and read the nice things that have been said about the book. And maybe buy it? (Just an example of the shameless self-promotion we have to learn to do.)

Most of the reviewers comment on the humor in the book, which was also gratifying. I don’t think of myself as a very witty person, but I did have a ton of fun directing the shows I talk about. When I released it I selected “Theater>Direction and Production” as the category. I have no idea why, except that  the title alerts the reader to some fun, but Amazon also chose to put it in “Humor and Entertainment.” The ways of Amazon remain mysterious.

The book is about some of the shows I directed and the people who were involved. Theater is a team effort, and I had some great team members involved in those productions. Probably several thousand over those thirty-one years, and in the book I named a good many of them ─ but barely scratched the surface. Scrolling through my Facebook News Feed last night, I saw a photo that caught my attention – a former cast member, one of the “PLA Kids” I talk about frequently, stretched out on her sofa reading “More Fog, Please.”

I left her a comment, thanking her for buying it. Liz Groff Heuser became a “PLA Kid” with our 1993 production of Cinderella, and six years later she played a leading role in the 1999 Cinderella as Joy, one of the stepsisters. Her reply made my day, if not my week, because this is one big reason I wrote the book:

“This PLA Kid has seen 16 of your shows and performed in 13 (not counting Mouse Country!)! I could write my own book on how all of those experiences and people I met changed me. I recently showed my husband the VHS of Cinderella #3 since he had never seen me perform and now completely ‘gets’ my addiction to it. Thank you for writing this and sharing our world! My time under your direction will remain some of the best in my life!”

That’s what I wanted to do, share the world we made with our musicals. And it seems for at least one former PLA Kid I succeeded.

“More Fog, Please” – 31 Years Directing Community and High School Musicals

cover by Tristan Flanagan

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The CAROUSEL Trilogy

A Formal Announcement

When I began writing How I Grew Up in May of 2013, I had no thought about following with any other novels. But as I was preparing the book for publication the thought struck me: Krissy’s story was a compelling one and perhaps deserved a book of its own. And as I was finishing Eli’s Heart, I began to wonder about Jamie Logan and what would happen if he could pursue using that superb voice he had been given … hence, You Are My Song.

The books are all “stand alone” reads, but I made some small revisions to How I Grew Up and re-released the book as How I Grew Up (The Carousel Trilogy, Book One) and it is now available on Amazon, as are the other two.

The Carousel Trilogy
How I Grew Up
Eli’s Heart
You Are My Song
Susan Moore Jordan

Melanie Stewart, Krissy Porter, Jamie Logan
three high school friends connected
 by one life-changing event. Each with a story to tell.

How I Grew Up is Melanie’s story. On a February night in 1954, her estranged brother-in-law entered her home with a gun and started shooting. When he left, her mother lay dead, her father mortally wounded, and another brother-in-law critically injured. Less than two weeks later, Melanie auditioned for her high school’s musical production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel. How she won the leading role of Julie Jordan and performed it brilliantly while her involvement in the show helped her begin to heal is a testament to the power of creativity in our lives.
Eli’s Heart is Krissy’s story. Just a few months prior to that Carousel production, for which she played harp in the orchestra, Krissy had met Eli Levin, a boy her own age born with two burdens: a prodigious musical gift and a frightening congenital heart condition. What seemed to be a budding romance between the brilliant young pianist and the girl he fell in love with during that summer was ended by the interference of his family. But Krissy and Eli managed to find their way back to each other some three years later. They married while still college students when they were both twenty. Their story is one of learning to live a full life despite the odds against them.
You Are My Song is the story of Melanie’s leading man in Carousel. Jamie Logan had a voice of unusual beauty and seemed destined to become a singer, but his high school sweetheart didn’t want him to sing. Their marriage ended after two years, shattering Jamie’s self-confidence. Jamie realized music was vital to his life and returned to college to study opera. With the encouragement of his teachers and his new love, Jamie found the inner strength to pursue a most difficult path, facing both professional and personal challenges along the way.

Books in The Carousel Trilogy -- How I Grew Up, Eli’s Heart, and You Are My Song by Susan Moore Jordan are available in paperback on,, and other online bookstores. The e-books are available on Kindle.
For more information about the author, please visit

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Eli Levin in His Own Words

Interview with the Pianist (July 1966)

SJ:       We’re here today interviewing pianist Eli Levin, who just returned from the Moscow Competition where he performed with American violinist Warren Anderson. Mr. Anderson won the coveted gold medal at that fiercely competitive event. Mr. Levin received a special medal from the judges in recognition of his extraordinary ability as a pianist and accompanist. Congratulations, Mr. Levin!

EL:      Thank you so much.

SJ:       Where is the medal now? We’d hoped we might see it today.

EL:      Well, actually, I gave it to my wife. She earned it as much as I did.

SJ:       Yes, I imagine being married to an accompanist who is as much in demand as you are can’t be easy. I’m sure you are away more than you’re home.

EL:      Yes, I am. Kristina knew what my professional plans were before we married and she has been unfailingly supportive. Once in a while she manages to arrange her schedule so she can take a short tour with us – Warren and me – and other times she has surprised me by showing up at a concert. She’s a busy lady in her own right as Personal Assistant to Maestro Aaron Rubin at the City Opera Company.

SJ:       When and where did you and Mrs. Levin meet?

EL:      We were both fifteen. I was visiting my sister Rachel, who lives in the town Krissy grew up in, and performed a recital there. I returned during the summer and I spent quite a bit of time at the Porters’ … Krissy’s parents’ … home. We didn’t see each other after that, but a few years later, when we were both in college, we were able to reconnect.

SJ:       Yes, I understand you married when you were both students at the Conservatory in Cincinnati.

EL:      Well, actually, I transferred to the school right after we were married, but we graduated together. I did my graduate study at the Juilliard School, so we moved to New York at that time.

SJ:       And began performing immediately after your graduation, I believe, and you’ve been playing almost non-stop ever since. Except for a detour for open heart surgery not long ago.

EL:      Yes, I was out of commission for a few months. But the surgery was successful and I’m busier than ever these days.

SJ:       May we talk about your heart condition?

EL:      Well … I never like to make a big deal of it. I was born with a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. Children with the condition are often called “blue babies” because the defects in the heart – there are four – impede the flow of oxygen to the blood. I had a surgical procedure when I was nine which relieved the worst of the symptoms, but no actual repairs to the heart were done at that time.

SJ:       The Blalock-Taussig shunt, pioneering surgery done at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in 1944, over twenty years ago. I believe until that procedure was performed there was little hope for children born with the condition, and they often did not survive childhood or live past their teens.

EL:      Well, as you see, I’m definitely past my teens. (laughter) It was after I had the procedure done that I started playing piano. I think my family was shocked when it became apparent I was good at it. Oh, and please don’t use the “P” word, I really dislike it.

SJ:       Yes, I was warned. But you were indeed a remarkably gifted young pianist, performing the difficult and demanding Rachmaninoff Second Piano Concerto at the age of sixteen with the New York Philharmonic, receiving rave reviews. It seemed you were headed for a career as a virtuoso. Yet you stated your wife knew that wasn’t what you wanted, even before you were married. What set your feet on the path you are following?

EL:      I’m sure it was a combination of influences and events. The first time I performed with another musician – I was a freshman in college – I enjoyed it far more than performing as a soloist. But it may have been even earlier; when I spent time with Krissy the summer we were teenagers. We often played piano duets. Part of that was because it gave me an excuse to sit close to her. Piano benches aren’t very large. (laughter)

SJ:       It’s been a pleasure to speak with you, Mr. Levin. Before we close, would you like to add a few words of encouragement to budding accompanists who might be listening?

EL:      Yes, I would. Play as often as you can with as many different singers and instrumentalists as you can, so you can begin to learn the vast literature you’ll be challenged with during your career. Listen to recordings. Attend live performances. Practice sight-reading, you never know when you might have to sight-read an entire recital. Don't ever be discouraged by the attitude you will sometimes encounter. What you do requires special skills. You’re unique. You are special. The music world could not do without outstanding pianists who choose to perform with other musicians. Wear the word “accompanist” with pride. And above all – practice, practice, practice!

SJ:       And you might become the next Eli Levin. Thank you, Mr. Levin, and best wishes for your continued success!

 Eli’s Heart is available on Amazon

 cover by Tristan Flanagan