“The secret to writing is knowing interesting people,” playwright Willy Holtzman ’74 told the Portland (Maine) Press Herald. His play, The Morini Strad, opened the 2011-12 season for the Portland Stage, receiving rave reviews. It is slated to open in New York City in March.
The “interesting person” he is refering to is his friend since Wesleyan days, Brian Skarstad ’73, now an artist who crafts high-end violins.
“Brian called me one day with this story,” Holtzman continues. Skarstad had received a request from an aging violinist, Erica Morini, asking him to help sell her Stradivarius. He found her to be unpleasant and demanding—and almost turned down the offer. He decided to accepted, though, and the play explores the themes of friendship, as well as the sacrifices one makes for art and for family, which engage the two characters over the course of the project.
Calling it a “perfect show,” critic Michael J. Tobin for the Portland Daily Sun, wrote: “The script by playwright Willy Holtzman is layered with sharp dialogue, surprising wit and thought provoking inspiration. He writes like a life coach who teaches us lessons about understanding and (dis)trust, reminding us of all the roads not taken and sacrifices made.”