Jeffrey Sanzel is a theater director, stage actor, and playwright. He is best known for writing, acting in, and directing the play, From the Fires: Voices of the Holocaust.


Sanzel was born into a Jewish family. He currently resides in Long Island, New York, working at the Theatre Three in Port Jefferson, Long Island. Sanzel joined Theater Three in Port Jefferson in 1989, where his first duty was to coordinate children's theater productions. In 1993 he became the Artistic Director, a position he currently holds. In 2008 he was honored by the Port Times Record in 2008 when they named him "Man of the Years in Arts 2008".[1]


The long-running From the Fires: Voices of the Holocaust is considered Sanzel's most famous play. He wrote the piece inspired by neighbors and family who had survived the atrocities of World War II. Designed for children grade 5 through 12, the play explores a young girl's experiences as her world collapses during World War II.[2] The story follows the lfe of Rachel Gold, a Jewish teenager living in Nazi Germany, from 1937 through 1945, and traces the experiences of her life from the inception of the Nuremberg Laws through her deportation to the Auschwitz concentration camp to her death during the forced march of Jewish internees to Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp.[3] As of December 2008, the play was in its 11th year of performance and had been seen by over 100,000 people.[1]

In 1989 Sanzel, along with Bill Van Horn, re-adapted Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol for the stage.[4]The New York Times noted that "The problem for most theaters is finding ways to present this venerable classic so that audiences will continue to come back season after season". They followed by writing that under the direction of Sanzel, "Theater Three of Port Jefferson has successfully met the challenge", in that "They have taken the title literally, and the result is an a capella carol about the resurrection of the soul of Ebenezer Scrooge."[5]

In 1992 Sanzel adapted the play again, and had done so each following years, creating adaptations that remained true to Dickens' original story and yet had enough originality to convince audiences to return each season for the updated versions. Sanzel's adaptations have been playing for over 20 years, topping 1,000 performances, and have received many positive reviews. The New York Times praised the newer versions by writing "Sanzel looks at "A Christmas Carol" as a multifaceted literary jewel in which each plane is another angle from which to view the story. This year he has woven holiday carols throughout the show like multicolored ribbons tying the package together." And of Sanzel's own work acting within the play, they wrote he "does an excellent job as a Scrooge haunted by the shadows of his own life and its many lost opportunities and misdeeds". They offered of the overall production, "This is a forceful production that again brings home the necessity to look around and offer a helping hand to the less fortunate. It helps visualize the Christmas spirit of human kindness that can live throughout the year, and it ends with a blessing from an old English carol, "Love and joy come to you . . . " What is unusual about the Theater Three vision is that it all seems so possible."[4]

Awards and nominations


  1. ^ a b c Donna Newman (December 19, 2008). "The enduring heart & marrow of Theatre Three". Port Times Record. Retrieved August 10, 2011. 
  2. ^ Barbara Delatiner (January 19, 1997). "Long Island Guide". The New York Times. Retrieved August 10, 2011. 
  3. ^ Cindy Springsteen (May 3, 2011). "From the Fires: Voices of the Holocaust". Port Washington Patch. Retrieved August 19, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Leah D. Frank (December 20, 1992). "THEATER REVIEW; Scrooge Musters the Courage to Change". The New York Times. Retrieved August 10, 2011. 
  5. ^ Leah D. Frank (December 17, 1989). "THEATER REVIEW; Dickens's 'Carol,' Staged a Capella". The New York Times. Retrieved August 10, 2011.