Tough Nut to Crack

Dear friends: After 21 shows of “Tough Nut to Crack”,”our original cast bids you adios —

if you have any interest in having this show performed with your own cast,please contact Ira Bryck at (413) 835-0810 or

We are also open to discussion about licensing the play (pay a fee for the right to produce it yourself) — also contact Ira Bryck for this discussion.

“Quite remarkable” “I went home pensive” “Hard edged” “Beautifully scripted” “Raw honesty” “Painfully realistic” “Laugh out loud funny” “Superb acting ” “Rings true”

That’s What They’re Saying About A Tough Nut to Crack

Based on a true story of a father and son and the company they keep

Written by Ira Bryck Directed by Nick Simms Featuring Nick Simms and Tim Van Ness

We are proud to present – as ‘edu-tainment’ – a family business one act play, “A Tough Nut to Crack”, based on a true story about a father and son and the company they keep.

Written by Ira Bryck, director of the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley, who served 17 adult years (and started taking cash at five years old) for his family’s 90 year old, 4th generation childrenswear retail business on Long Island, NY.

This is Ira’s third play about family business, following “Perils of Pauline’s Family Business” and “Wait Till Your Father Gets Home” “Tough Nut to Crack” is in production through fall of 2004- we’re looking for a few more venues (be they family business programs, industry conferences, events hosted by expert service providers. Please contact Ira Bryck at (413) 545 1537 or via email to discuss it more.
The play, often presented as dinner theater, will benefit you by:

  • giving you a “fly on the wall” view of a business family facing many classic issues
  • examining your thoughts and feelings about your family’s reactions to this real life drama
  • breaking the ice on important discussion you may have about your own situation

Where “Tough Nut to Crack” has gone on:

UMass School of Management Alfond Management Center Grand Opening/Homecoming Weekend • Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley • Northeastern University Center for Family Business • UMass Dartmouth Center for Family Business • Family Business Center of Central Ohio • Collaboration of Amherst, Northampton & Franklin County Chambers • University of Southern Maine • Kansas Family Business Forum • Goshen (Indiana) College Family Business Program • University of South Dakota Family Business Center • Kings College Family Business Center (Wilkes Barre, PA) • University of New Haven Family Business Center

National Roofing Contractors Assn Future Executives Institute • University of Toledo Center for Family Business • Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter High School • University of North Carolina at Asheville • University of Wisconsin at Madison • University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh • University of Vermont • Saginaw Valley State University • Berkshire Chamber of Commerce

Where “Tough Nut to Crack” has been reviewed:

  • Family Business Magazine
  • Families in Business Magazine
  • Business West article
  • Related Matters article
  • Boston Business Journal article
  • *Daily Hampshire Gazette article

What audience members and event planners have had to say:

Your presentation of “Tough Nut to Crack” at Northeastern University Center for Family Business was clearly a very valuable event! Well Done! Warm regards, and again, many thanks
—Paul Karofsky, Northeastern University Center for Family Business

Ira Bryck’s production of “A Tough Nut to Crack” was a thought provoking, insightful glimpse into a family business that many can relate to. Such dramas often unfold in real life at a pace that is difficult to decipher. “Tough Nut” allows one to examine the choices we each make and how they are inextricably linked to the chain of events in our lives and so many others lives as well. The mix of family and business and characters is heart felt, compelling and very real. At times, we are tempted to interrupt the play and offer our own sage wisdom to prevent the inevitable. Yet it is equally easy to get caught up in the flow of lives events much like our own – never quite knowing where they might lead. “A Tough Nut to Crack” offers an enjoyable mix of family, business and life for all to savor.
—Dann Van Der Vliet, University of Vermont Family Business Center

“Tough Nut to Crack” is tough not to enjoy. It is a poignant, funny, insightful, relevant, thought-provoking play that sparks discussion and laughter. The University of Toledo Center for Family Business is proud to have presented this play to more than 220 enlightened participants. The impact of the conversation will expand and last throughout the years.
—Debbe Skutch, Director, University of Toledo Center for Family Business

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your play, A Tough Nut to Crack. Besides the fact that you brought up so many of the dilemmas of a father and son with business complicating their relationship, as a writer I admire the writing. The way you managed to do so much with only the two characters’ dialogue and monologues seems to me quite remarkable. Equally so is the play of words, the puns and other humor. I’ve no doubt your talent for playwriting extends beyond our field of professional interest. Recently I saw Susan Parks’ Topdog/Underdog, have you seen that? The two characters are brothers in the ghetto, and the subject is entirely different, but this reminded me of that play (which won a Pulitzer Prize) in how you portray whole lives with snatches of dialogue. Congratulations.
—Ken Kaye, Ph.D., Chicago psychologist and author of Workplace Wars and How to End Them: Turning Personal Conflicts into Productive Teamwork

I recently had the pleasure of moderating the discussion about your excellent play, “A Tough Nut to Crack.” The University of North Carolina-Asheville Family Business Center was the audience. The play was quite enjoyable and delivered a great message to families in business, but especially to fathers and sons working side by side. I would hope every family business forum would commit to put the program on for their members. Thank you for your creativity.
—Ron C. Reece, Ph.D., Family Business Consultant, Greenville, South Carolina

I thought the play went phenomenally well, and was very well received. One of my members said he has been involved in those discussion hundreds of times, and that it was a real relief to understand that he was not alone. The evaluations indicated that the discussion afterwards might have gone longer, so it went well. I think you’ve written a real winner for family business centers. The play was easy to stage, the entire audience got the messages–and they had more to discuss than there was time for. The actors were superb. Humor is a very effective method to communicate dicey messages–any you’re a master at that. You’re going to have a hard time improving on this one, when you write the next play, but do keep on truckin’.
—Tom Jueneman, Director, University of Southern Maine Institute for Family Owned Businesses

The play was fantastic, as was the actors’ performance. In all, we’re very pleased.
—Darci Congrove, CPA sponsor of the Family Business Center of Central Ohio, Columbus, OH

I was thrilled to be at the debut of “Tough Nut to Crack” last night. The play was even better in the flesh than on paper. Both actors were so well cast. I laughed a lot and went home pensive about the issues you raise about identity, especially in a close family circle. You should be very pleased with this new production. Encore!
—Deborah Kruger, Owner, Psychbilling, Amherst, MA

The play was wonderful. For me, it was really profound to hear you say in the introduction that many people tell you that they think their family business & situation is unique. By the end of the play, I realized how I had thought that way – and that you and so many others had experienced similar feelings and experiences as I had in my years in the family business. Your play will certainly provoke and inspire great discussions.
—Lewis Bosler, veteran of family owned funeral service company

I thought your play was excellent. Not only did I enjoy the production, but I feel its contents are real and were well written. I concluded the latter because I have thought about the play several times since I saw it, which I think speaks for it.
—Ken Furst, co- founder, Momentum Group/ Strategic Market Planning Institute, Longmeadow, Mass (a corporate partner of the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley)

Congratulations on the play. It is fun, entertaining and informative at the same time. And, based on your introduction, there’s a huge amount of you in the play–challenges, frustrations, aspirations, and love and awe as well as disapproval of “dad’s” way of doing business. The play tee’s up many issues in the family business, and I’m sure many will relate to the experiences you are sharing on the stage.
—Phil Stecker, CBI Business Brokers, Brattleboro, VT

A very unique opportunity to look at one’s own relationship with thier parent/child in a family business situation. The play was a great way to wind down our annual conference, and the response to the content and acting abilities was great!
—Beth Adamson, University of South Dakota Family Business Initiative

Tough Nut to Crack is a great play. I think it’s destined to be a favorite. I’m awful proud you gave your premiere here; the crowd (major donors to school of management) loved it. I received nothing but good comments.
—Tom O’Brien, Dean, UMass’ Isenberg School of Management

Kudos! You did a fabulous job; the play is a smashing success. The talkback (discussion afterwards) was excellent; and as one audience member commented, you created a way to find answers, and congregate and feel we’re not alone. I appreciate all your effort and courage in sharing yourself with all of us. .
—Charles Epstein, Mass Mutual sponsor of Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley

Audience Ratings from University of New Haven Center for Family Business:

  • Program held my interest: 80% = Above Expectations, 20%= Met Expectations
  • Information presented is valuable/useful: 75%=Above Expectations, 25% = Met Expectations
  • Would like to see another presentation of this nature = 94%

Comments from the audience at Northeastern University Center for Family Business:

  • Comedy element of the play was fantastic. Very easy to relate to my world, and I’m sure it was just as easy for everyone else in attendance.
  • Good use of humor to illustrate some serious points.
  • The show was so tight, complete, moving and thought provoking!
  • The family dynamics in the play, real issues showing both the function and warmth of family business. Well acted!
  • The play was excellent. Enjoyed the comments and discussion as well.
  • Great show- very thought provoking and real life!
  • Play was poignant and right on the mark.
  • Great, articulate interaction.
  • The play was honest and relevant.
  • Discussion after play about concepts in it.
  • It will take a little time to digest all this. There was a lot of information there, especially, as a son (SOB) and a father.
  • Very entertaining- brought to light real life issues. My family responded openly to the event.
  • Play that touched on realistic issues. Gets an A.

“Finally sat down and read your play…and was immediately captivated by the characters, the dialogue, and the hard edged, human realities you so beautifully expressed (and sugarcoated so well with humor). I want to have Will over for dinner, many times. Bud was subtly drawn, but so real and enlightening, I felt I could touch him. Thought I understood the successor condition, and you taught me a lot. Thank you for that. Congratulations. You can give up your day job anytime and move to Broadway or TV. I was deeply impressed by what you accomplished. “
—Donald J. Jonovic, Ph.D. , Family Business Management Services , Cleveland, OH

“Ira’s personal reflections in this play are compelling. They express dilemmas and challenges of family business from an intensely and uniquely personal perspective, filled with appropriate emotion and reality. Beautifully scripted, the drama is rich and warm and will endear audiences to the realities of both the innate joys and sufferings of this father-son relationship.”
—Paul Karofsky, Executive Director, Northeastern University Center for Family Business

“I very much like this play, especially its raw honesty and the painfully realistic dialog and evolution of both characters. I was very touched by the father-son relationship and their predicament. I found most of the dialog very alive and realistic. There were numerous places where I laughed out loud and at the very end I became very teary. I think you’re a great writer and I hope to see the play on stage soon.”
—Jayne Pearl, author of Kids and Money; Giving Them the Savvy to Succeed Financially

“Just finished reading your new play. I thought it was marvelous: very wonderful dialogue, lots of rich, difficult stuff that you were able to express elegantly; and obviously very provocative for me, too. Congratulations on doing something very artful! I’m farklempt!!”
—Andrea Bryck, sister of Ira Bryck

“Oh, did I cry at the end! It was beautifully written with compassion, humor, logic and life. You are terrific! It will be a smash hit! Loved it!!”
—Karen Bloom, sister of Ira Bryck

“Wonderful play! Very moving! A great job, dealing with lots of issues, and it’s full of character (and characters)”
—Marcie Sclove, friend of Ira Bryck

“I LOVE YOUR SCRIPT! I can really SEE and HEAR it. The voices are very real in their tragicomedic way. I’m glad I know the story behind the story. I can imagine how this can illustrate many family business dilemmas, even if it isn’t retail. Congratulations. I look forward to seeing it when it plays locally.”
—Ingrid Bredenberg, LifeShaping /Human Resource Innovations

“A great story. I like the development of the character’s realizations. I could sure use it as a teaching tool.”
—Dennis Jaffe, Family Business Consultant, author of “Working With the Ones You Love”

“WOW! Your play is great! “Laugh out loud” funny! It is a story of personal growth and development, told with poignancy and credibility.”
—Patrice Persico, Director, Kings College Family Business Center

“I enjoyed the script of “Tough Nut to Crack” very much. It is obvious that this is a world and a relationship that you know to the marrow. The angst and humor are the warp and woof of the tale, and thus it seems a very Jewish telling. The dialogue rings true with hardly a seam to be found. So, anyway, you have a wonderful talent for taking the dynamics of the family business and the business family and turning them inside out for all to see. In the light, with sympathy, growth and healing can happen, for the family and the business. You are a skillful playwright. “
—Jonathan Klate, acupuncturist, songwriter/singer and more

contact Ira Bryck at (413) 545 4545 or email Ira Bryck about bringing “A Tough Nut to Crack “to your organization or conference, or seeing them when they come to your town.