Marvelous feature by NY Times Bestseller Julie Salamon…
PROFILE OF ANITA HOLLANDER: DIRECTOR OF OUR CHILDREN’S CHOIR
In 1975, Bernard R. Hollander, a Cleveland lawyer and cantor, died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 48. After his death, his family discovered these words scribbled on a piece of paper in his desk: “Beyond the welfare
of one’s family and friends, the enhancement of the lives
of others and those to come must be the real object of life.”
His daughter, Anita Hollander, took her father’s words
to heart. She has dedicated her life to the enhancement of others through art and advocacy, in a career that hasincluded singing, acting, producing, directing, musical
theater, television drama, composing, teaching and conducting. For the past 17 years, Anita has also been the director
of The Village Temple Children’s Choir, and for the past 18
months, our soloist for Shabbat services (alternating with
Gerard Edery) and creator of marvelous new melodies for
our liturgy, including her moving rendition of Mi Shebeirach
and ingenious use of beloved Joni Mitchell and James
In addition to her insanely busy artistic career, Anita has
been a prominent advocate on behalf of people with disabilities, through appearances at the UN and The White House as well as in schools and theaters, ranging from Off-Broadway to the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Her original
one-woman musical, “Still Standing: A Musical Survival
Guide for Life’s Catastrophes,” has been widely acclaimed.
The New York Times pronounced her “provocative, funny, communicative, and beautifully polished,” adding that “she has a wide range of vocal colors, which she uses with dramatic sensibility as well as comic insight…All this plus a
charming presence that flavors everything she does.”
This multi-faceted career is even more remarkable in light
of Anita’s personal story. She was diagnosed at the age of
21 with neurofibrosarcoma, a form of cancer of the nerves.
After surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and 5 years of walking and dancing in a leg brace, the cancer recurred. At age 26 her left leg was amputated.
Yet, Anita had the fortitude and wisdom (and talent) to treat
adversity as another aspect of her artistic purpose. Instead
of being stopped by having her leg amputated, she has used this experience to deepen and broaden her gifts. Through her work in all three actors’ unions, she has been a tireless advocate of fellow performers with disabilities. She also built a wonderful family with her husband, the actor Paul Hamilton and her daughter, Holland Hamilton, who inherited
her parents’ theatrical gifts (and who is also a former
member and now sometimes leader of the Village Temple Children’s Choir!)
We at The Village Temple have been so lucky to be the beneficiaries of Anita’s talents and humble soul. “I’m grateful to Rabbi Koster for the assignment
and encouragement,” she said, when asked about the compositions she’s done for Shabbat services. As for the children’s choir, Anita says, “They inspire me. I’ve learned so much from these kids and watched a
generation grow up!”
A superstar but no diva, Anita is a generous collaborator, working week-in and week-out with our own Lisa Loren on flute, occasionally with classical guitarist Diego Campo, and with the cadre of talented young musicians she has brought into our services (Marina Kifferstein on violin; Daniel Stein
on bass; Eli Salamon-Abrams on cello; Romain Rachline on guitar; and Adrianna Mateo on violin).
In 2010, Anita wrote a beautiful song based on the words her father left behind; his legacy is imprinted in the life his daughter has lived.
For more about Anita, go to www.anitahollander.com.
Actress Anita Hollander will be at Kent State, speaking about her life and experiences on October 26th for disAbility awareness month.
Throughout the month of October, Kent State’s Student Accessibility Services (SAS) center has been advocating disAbility Awareness across campus along with the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, the Panhellenic Council and the Undergraduate Student Government.
The ‘d’ in disAbility is lower-cased and the ‘A’ is capitalized because SAS aims to “stress the ability within disAbility” said Sue Smith who is the editorial communications associate at SAS.
There are approximately 1,000 students registered with SAS at Kent State University, according to Dr. Amy Quillin who is the associate director at SAS.
Hollander is renowned for her roles on “Law & Order”, “As the World Turns” and playing Grizabella, a cat shunned by the rest of the tribe, in the world Broadway play, “CATS."
Hollander was diagnosed at the age of 21 with neruofibrosarcoma, a form of cancer of the connective tissue surrounding nerves. After going to nine doctors that just thought she had a pinched nerve, finally the tenth doctor noticed something the others didn’t in a test, and a tumor was found in her leg. The doctors did surgery and removed most of the sciactic nerve in her leg and she walked with a brace for five years, still performing. But cancer cells had been left in her leg and the tumor grew back.
Chemotherapy had damaged her leg so much to the point that it was past repair, so at the age of 26 the doctor felt it was necessary to amputate her left leg.
REVIEWS FOR POWER PLAYS
June 2014: Had the GREATEST time performing in POWER PLAYS with Theatre Breaking Through Barriers (www.tbtb.org). Among the 5 world premiere short plays by John Guare, David Henry Hwang, Neil LaBute, Bruce Graham and Bekah Brunstetter, I had the ultimate pleasure of opening the show with Ms. Brunstetter's Murder, one of the funniest plays I've ever been lucky enough to premiere, especially Off Broadway (Harold Clurman Theatre, Theatre Row, NYC). I finally put my Carnegie Mellon stage-fighting certification to work (complete with blood capsules and hysterical choreography by David Brimmer). Fabulous fun and terrific reviews, including the NY Times. AND we've been invited to do this show in JAPAN in September, 2014!!!
"The actors approach the material with pluck and devotion, particularly Pamela Sabaugh and Anita Hollander. Ms. Sabaugh is legally blind; Ms. Hollander moves assertively on only one leg. Their fierce and funny knife fight is a treat." Read More
"The show opens with sparkling naturalism punctuated by violent fantasy in Bekah Brunstetter‘s Murder. Pamela Sabaugh andAnita Hollander have brilliant fun with the delicious dark humor of Brunstetter’s dialogue, in which at least half the meaning lies in the pauses and silences and interruptions." Read More
"As the seasoned author, Hollander relishes her quips and slaps, a welcome answer to the false modesty of Sabaugh’s newly successful author. Brunstetter has a light, yet searing finesse, and well-paced direction by Christina Roussos kicked the evening off with a bang." Read More
"I would have loved to have seen more of Anita Hollander, who played “Bridget” in Bekah Brunsetter’s Murder." Read More
"Pamela Sabaugh's Lonnie and Anita Hollander's Bridget are friends, but are now encountering a phase of competitive jealousy over their careers. The realistic dialogue is peppered with a few surreal moments that make it really enjoyable." Read More
‘Cats’ Has Lost None of Its Charm Over Three Decades
Ocean Professional Theatre Co. Performers, Audiences All Have Fun
By RICK MELLERUP | Jul 22, 2013 The Sand Paper
In the 1950s there was a raging debate in New York City. Who was the best centerfielder in town and probably in all of baseball – Willie (Mays of the Giants), Mickey (Mantle of the Yankees) or the Duke (Snider of the Dodgers)? I have a similar internal debate raging in my head as I write this. Who was the best Grizabella I’ve ever seen in “Cats”? Read More
BROADWAY WORLD REVIEWS: CATS at Ocean Professional Theatre Company
A family favorite and once longest running show on Broadway is playing in Barnegat, New Jersey. The Ocean Professional Theater Company is bringing in the talent for this and one of many impressive productions. The strength of this mounting of Cats is its direction and choreography. Seasoned producing artistic director Steve Steiner has the good instinct to bring in a team of directors who have graced the stages in the feline costumes. Read More
‘Still Standing’ a Kick-Butt Show Even If Star Has Only One Leg Jul 31, 2013 The SandPaper
Folks who saw Anita Hollander’s portrayal of Grizabella in the just-closed Ocean Professional Theatre Company production of “Cats” know she is a fine actress and singer. They also may have noticed another thing about Hollander – she only has one leg. Oh, some audience members were confused. They’re not accustomed to seeing one-legged performers, and wondered how the theater company had tucked her leg so successfully behind her. Read More
I did this wonderful internet interview on Elyn Jacobs' show Survive and Live Well on January 29, 2013.
Lovely how she wove my songs into the chat.
As described by the New York Times, Anita Hollander is “provocative, funny, moving, communicative and beautifully polished…She has a wide range of vocal colors which she uses with dramatic sensitivity as well as comic insight…All this plus a charming presence that flavors everything she do...read more
NY TIMES THEATER REVIEW | 'SOME OF OUR PARTS'
Disabled and the Abled, Inhabiting Close Quarters
By NEIL GENZLINGER
"...The bill is being staged by Theater Breaking Through Barriers, whose productions frequently use actors with disabilities, and the other standout among the plays, “Gorgeous,” by Bekah Brunstetter, is a case in point. Anita Hollander and Mary Theresa Archbold, who have prosthetic limbs, play two women who are chatting in the locker room of a gym when a Perfect 10 type (Tiffan Borelli) comes in. The play deftly contrasts their reaction to her with her reaction to them."
“So twice in my life I had to learn to walk all over again, with different obstacles,” she said, “first a brace, then with a prosthesis and on one leg with crutches. She always felt these challenges were a test to see if I really wanted to be an actor. In fact everything that happened to me was a gift that has FED my life as an actor throughout my life”.
Read Entire Article
BACK STAGE: GLAAD: Only 6 disabled primetime characters But 'CSI's' Robert David Hall is only actor who is actually disabled.
There are 587 series-regular roles on scripted network primetime television this fall. Only six of them have disabilities. Only one of those six is portrayed by a disabled actor.
That information comes courtesy of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which last week released its annual "Where We Are on TV" report. The survey documents the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters in each new fall television season. This year, for the first time, GLAAD also counted the number of characters with disabilities.
While the U.S. Census Bureau reports that people with identified disabilities make up a little more than 12% of the American population, they make up only 1% of the primetime population. Disheartening though that statistic may be, the fact that it even exists represents progress.
"One of the issues that performers with disabilities in the entertainment industry have continued to struggle with is the lack of accurate measurements on the portrayal and employment of actors with disabilities in television and film," said Rebecca Yee, national director of affirmative action and diversity for SAG.
"This report is more than just numbers; it's really the first authoritative study measuring the number of characters with disabilities on television, and importantly, the number of performers with disabilities who portray those characters." Read Entire Article
Scripps Howard feature article 6/10/10 byShea Northcut:
WASHINGTON- Anita Hollander walked onto the stage, pulled up her dress and removed her prosthetic leg.
Playwright Anita Hollander begins her performance of “Still Standing” wearing her prosthetic leg.
The nationally renowned actress performed for more than 40 audience members Wednesday as part of a festival to bring awareness to the arts and disabilities.
“It all began in 1977, when nine out of 10 doctors said I was perfectly OK,” Hollander, 54, said. “The 10th doctor that I went to in New York finally realized that something wasn’t quite right.”
In the middle of her junior year at Carnegie Mellon University, Hollander was diagnosed with neurofibrosarcoma, a form of cancer of the connective tissue surrounding nerves. Five years after the tumor in her left leg was removed, Hollander faced her greatest fear when her doctor decided it was best to amputate her leg.
“I cried for 20 minutes when I found out, but eventually discovered it was really a blessing in disguise because I was in so much pain,” Hollander said. “I soon realized that if you can perform with two legs, you can do even better with an amputation.”
As the physical pain slowly slipped away and she faced the reality of having one leg, Hollander created her own stage play, “Still Standing,” which illustrates her story from her diagnosis to marriage and to having a daughter, through songs and narrative.
As the performance unfolds, Anita Hollander takes her prosthesis on and off between songs.
After performing the show nationwide – including at the White House in 1999, the Kennedy Center and off-Broadway – Hollander knew that the VSA Festival, the International Organization on Arts and Disability, would be a perfect venue to share her message. She received a call one week before the festival began and rearranged her schedule to help the cause.
“I love using the things that I am best at to help make other people’s lives better,” Hollander said.
This year marks the sixth international festival over three decades. VSA was founded in 1974 by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith to raise awareness and opportunity for those who have disabilities. Soula Antoniou, VSA president, said she was delighted to have Hollander as one of 2,000 participants in the seven-day festival.
“Hollander’s performance is consistent with our mission and is helping create opportunities through the arts with people who have disabilities,” Antoniou said. “We are pushing to move the dial of perceptions around disabilities through the arts and this festival.”
Hollander’s show connected with audience members, especially Sharon Tarlano, 47, of Burke, Va., and Toni Popkin, 55 of Alexandria, Va. After being in a car wreck five years ago, they suffered traumatic brain injury and could relate to Hollander’s message on multiple levels. Both had to retire. Popkin worked in the mental health field, and Tarlano was a veterinary technician and animal obedience instructor.
“Even though we have a different disability, it was quite powerful and took me through all kinds of emotions that I could relate with,” Tarlano said.
Through each stage in her life, Hollander said the fine arts and her daughter are what kept her going. Ultimately, she motivated the audience members to keep “standing” by not letting their disabilities get in the way.
“I have learned that what makes you different makes you unique and even better than you could’ve imagined,” Hollander said.
Other performances, exhibits and artists will be featured at the VSA Festival, which goes through Saturday.
BASS FOR PICASSO Features & Reviews:
Hollander, Archbold, Neals, Small Cast in Kate Moira Ryan's Bass for Picasso
By Andrew Gans
15 Mar 2010
Theater Breaking Through Barriers will present the world premiere of Kate Moira Ryan's Bass for Picasso Off-Broadway this spring.
Previews will begin April 17 prior to an official press opening May 2 at Theatre Row's Kirk Theatre. Ike Schambelan directs.
The cast will feature Anita Hollander, Mary Archbold, Felice Neals, Terry Small and Nicholas Viselli.
In Bass for Picasso, press notes state, "amputee and food writer for the New York Times Francesca Danieli throws a dinner party for her friends recreating recipes (including the titular entree) from the 'Alice B. Toklas Cookbook.' The guest list includes Pilar, her multilingual art detective lover, who has spent time in Guantanamo for visa problems; Bricka Matson, a lesbian widow with a small child and Republican in-laws who are trying to gain custody; Joe, an OB/GYN whose lover is a geographically challenged crystal meth addict; and Kev, a playwright who has recently fallen off the wagon and written a soon-to-open Off-Broadway play about all of them. It's an insanely funny, irreverent 80-minute look at gay and lesbian life in the new millennium."
Encore feature article (Julie Taveras 4/10/10): "Actress Anita Hollander, who plays Danieli, describes her character as a 'one-legged lesbian food writer for the Times who has a neurotically driven personality.' Not only is Hollander an amputee herself, which allows her a more authentic take on the physical aspect of the role, but she can also identify with many of the character’s experiences on sexuality and writing." More
Time Out article (4/29/10 Beth Greenfield) at: Read articlehere
Back Stagereview (Erik Haagensen 5/2/10): "The actors wisely play against the absurdity. Anita Hollander has authority as Francesca and gets a good laugh whacking the unfaithful Pilar with her prosthesis." More
NYTheatre.com review (Martin Denton 5/1/10): "Francesca is written in the script as an amputee, and she's played by one, Anita Hollander, with vigor and bravada."More
EQUITY NEWS - December, 2009
BIT in ZAGREB By Anita Hollander, I AM PWD
This October, in Zagreb, Croatia, I participated in Blind In Theatre: 6th International Theatre Festival of the Blind and Visually Impaired. I performed in A NERVOUS SMILE, by award-winning playwright John Belluso, with Theatre Breaking Through Barriers (TBTB), long-running NY theatre company founded by Ike Schambelan, introduced to me by AEA member George Ashiotis. The cast - Nick Viselli, Pamela Sabaugh, Melanie Boland, PSM Kimothy Cruse, Alden Fulcomer, and myself - viewed daily performances of various international companies including blind and low-vision artists, including Belgian, British, Bulgarian, Croatian, Finnish, German, Polish, and Serbian, after which we would have round-table discussions, with English as the common language. TBTB was well-received and given an award for long-term contributions to the festival. There were also workshops, movement sessions and works-in-progress. As an activist for greater visibility of artists with disabilities, I was bombarded each day by new insights and revelations about artists and art, whether disability-related or not, and was able to discuss our work on the tri-union I.AM.PWD media and civil rights campaign, as well as hearing what other countries do to incorporate artists with disabilities in their arts and entertainment.
Most notable was the state funding for both arts and disability services. While we depend on funds from organizations like TDF and Artists International, in Europe, where Art equals Culture, state funding is provided, as well as funding for blind artists in Zagreb, including office and studio space, bar, access to a 300-seat theatre, street markings and devices for blind pedestrians around of these facilities. Croatian theatre artists do not lack for innovative production values either, while their young audience work is tremendously clever and economical. The Polish and Serbian companies sported sophisticated multi-media effects, and the Belgians were wildly creative and imaginative. Above all, these artists seemed to be respected, whether sighted, blind, or blind and deaf. They had a confidence and pride in their work which implied support and acceptance in their own cultures. Disabled people are used to terms like "brave, courageous, inspiring, indomitable spirit," but this theatre, riveting by nature of its story and craft, was more mind-blowing than inspirational.
On the last day in Zagreb, our guide/translator, Tina, took us to a massive ancient cemetery north of the city, where we read poetry amongst the beautiful ornate graves, many memorials of friends and family of our group. We Americans remembered John Belluso for his contribution to this festival from beyond the grave. A playwright with a disability himself, this week would have pleased him. As we listened to our fellow artists, it was clear how much we had in common, how passionate we were about our work, how tough-skinned and sensitive we all are. We shared the human experience across boundaries of time, space, language, culture, and physical ability. We perceived and accepted each other with the love of family and were proud to have been a part of such a confluence of humanity and art. (more info: www.tbtb.org and www.iampwd.org)
THE SANDPAPER April 22, 2009
Thank God The Nuns Are Back At Surflight
by Rick Mellerup
"Anita Hollander, whose performance as Grizabella made the Surflight's 2004 production of Cats one for the history books, is reprising her role as Sister Mary Hubert, the Mistress of Novices, for the third time in the Steiner era. If you didn't see the Surflight's Cats (and you don't know what you missed) she was also memorable in Fiddler on the Roof, Brighton Beach Memoirs, and Showboat. To use a religious metaphor - and it seems perfectly appropriate considering the subject matter of this review - if you want to build your show on a strong foundation, you can't go wrong with these two rocks [Hollander and Carolyn Popp]."
The New York Times published part of my letter to the editor regarding double amputee paralympic champion runner, Oscar Pistorius.
For links about the story you can go to:
Many thanks to Richard Sandomir for bringing this to my attention!
Letters to the Editor
Published: January 20, 2008
Support for Pistorius
To the Sports Editor:
As a high-thigh above-knee amputee actress who has tap danced in “Nunsense” and played a three-legged Grizabella in “Cats,” I take enormous umbrage at these dilettantes who have no way of knowing what it takes to run on two prostheses.
Oscar Pistorius has beaten incredible odds by his own determination and struggle to stand toe-to-toe with two-legged athletes. If the rules of the International Association of Athletics Federations are too archaic and lacking in vision that disabled athletes may someday compete with the so-called able bodied, then I strongly suggest that those rules be changed to meet the accomplishments of people with disabilities in the 21st century.
New York The writer is the East Coast national chairwoman of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists Performers with Disabilities.
HELEN SHAW, THE NEW
YORK SUN, 5/16/06
“There is a long history
of writers trying for the dreamy effects that Gary Winter (and 13P's
sensitive production of AT SAID) seem to sink into with ease. And in
thumbnail, his plot — a stifled, static life finally finds its
windows thrown open — will seem like the shallowest of clichés.
But Mr. Winter manages to take some very pedestrian language (the word "ferris
wheel" is so exotic that one character just wants to gaze at it
on a page) and make it strange and mysterious again. The sensation is
like watching Harold Pinter, feeling our most trusted words turn into
slippery bars of meaning in our hands.”
Director Tim Farrell “clearly knows he has something Beckettian
on his hands.” As a “hypersexed drug dealer,” Vedant
Gokhale is “like Puck got washed up and started selling the heroin
out of his magic flowers.” Lia Aprile and Anita Hollander “elide
the difference between the playwright's words and themselves. Mr. Winter
is building up poetry out of the simplest statements ... and it's difficult
to believe that these women aren't simply generating it spontaneously.
In relief against the sweet zaniness of Marisa Echeverria and Gilbert
Cruz, they fool us into believing that they are the normal ones ... and
that everyone these days talks like William Carlos Williams stuck in
Disabled actress a hit at Disability Awareness
Event by John J. Joyce
NSWCDD Public Affairs
Actress Anita Hollander performed her one-woman show, "Still Standing," at
NSWC Dahlgren's National Disability Employment Awareness Month event
held at the Aegis Auditorium on Tuesday, October 18, 2005.
Every song in Hollander's musical, performed to raise awareness about
workers with disabilities was received with applause.
The actress has described her act as "a life survival guide set
to music," and "an awareness guide about the disabled." She
wrote the music and lyrics following the loss of her left leg to cancer
in 1977. A blend of humor, drama and honesty, the show has been performed
off-Broadway, as well as nationally at the White House and the Kennedy
Many positive comments were made about Hollander's hard hitting, poignant
and funny story of her life post amputation that she told through songs
about specific incidents or attitudes.
As a member of all three actors' unions and as the East Coast National
Chair of the AFTRA Performers with Disabilities committee, Hollander
- who is also a singer, composer, lyricist, director, producer and teacher
- has been working hard to enlighten and change attitudes and perceptions
of the disabled.
"We've been struggling over the past few years with a shortage
of scientists and engineers in this country," pointed out NSWCDD
Commander Capt. Joseph McGettigan in his closing remarks. "This
(science and engineering) is an area where a lot of disabled people can
function and they can really do the job that we need them to do here
in Dahlgren, and that's part of why we do this - to highlight the fact
that there are a lot of people that have disabilities, but they really
do have the ability to do the work that we need them to do."
After her performance, Anita answered several questions related to her
disability. She told the audience that her excruciating drive and the
sense of humor in her family was a gift that got her through everything. "Each
one of us have obstacles and barriers to overcome, but we go through
our tools of survival," said Hollander. "One tool of survival
we all have is the joy of simply being alive."
NSWC Dahlgren Program Manager Laura Tronge was the moderator for the
"Our goal - no our mission - is to break down those things that
separate us, and come together to enhance our understanding and skills
to continue on our path to progress as an organization," said Tronge
before she introduced NDW Commander Capt. Judy Smith who gave welcoming
"For those of us who fear change, or fear these barriers, people
with disabilities are the shinning examples that the rest of us should
follow," said Tronge. "On a daily basis they overcome these
barriers, and are able to set the example in what can be overcome and
what can be accomplished if you set your mind to doing it."
Words and Music by Andrew
Lloyd Webber Based
on Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot
the Critics said
about Cats at Surflight
"Cats is a delightful
spectacle with which the Surflight has
done a magnificent job…Anita Hollander’s performance as Grizabella is
the highlight of the show. The once glamorous Grizabella left
the tribe to follow her dreams and she comes back as a prodigal
daughter, shunned by some, defended by others. Much the worse
for wear, not only is her coat torn, but, in this production,
she’s lost a leg. There are no tricks involved. Hollander
achieves this effect by simply not wearing her prosthetic leg.
She lost a leg to cancer in 1977. When her Grizabella sings Memory while standing on her one
good leg, she lends this shopworn tune an eerie dignity it
has never possessed before and which you will not soon forget.” -Tom Wrona, The Beachcomber
Hollander grabs the audience during her rendition of the world-famous
'Memory' and made it so personal she moistened not a few
eyes in the audience". -Bre Golden, The Islander
“Anita Hollander, a glorious
singer and excellent actress, performs the role of Grizabella.” -