Jessica Miano Kruel, Cassidy Timms and Jeremy Zoma star in ‘The Pickpocket’s Daughter’ written by Key West playwright Neal Ruchman. MARK HEDDEN/The Studios of Key West

“The Pickpocket’s Daughter.” 

The title alone draws us in, introducing two people we simply must meet.

 The Studios of Key West’s cultural season continues in May with the debut of one of the most anticipated theatrical productions of the year. “The Pickpocket’s Daughter,” written by Key West resident Neal Ruchman, is staged in the Helmerich Theater for a limited run of eight nights from May 18-28. Tickets are available at or by calling 305-296-0458.

Based on real-life events, the play tells the story of Ruchman’s mother, Harriett “Matzy” Moses (nicknamed for her love of matzo), who came of age in New York in the late 1930s at a time when Jewish and Irish gangs fought for control of the city. When 17-year-old Matzy gets caught up in a battle between rival factions, she has to rely on all the chutzpah and smarts she has to get out of the situation alive.

The play’s first reading at The Studios in 2018 left audiences raving. “‘The Pickpocket’s Daughter’ is nothing short of wonderful,” said one audience member. “The storyline is tight and seamless. The characters are beautifully drawn. I loved every second of it.”

With rehearsals well underway, the play comes to life under the hand of veteran director Murphy Davis, starring a cast of some of Key West’s most accomplished actors, including Don Bearden, David Black, Mary Falconer, Joy Hawkins and Jessica Miano Kruel. Rounding out the cast are experienced actors from all over the country, including Cody Borah, Mark Liebert, Cassidy Timms, Sean Armstrong Verre, Phillip Cole White and Jeremy Zoma.

“It’s been a dream of mine to see this play come to fruition ever since I first heard my mother’s incredible story,” said playwright Ruchman. “The play is testament to the obstacles she overcame, and I hope she’d be proud to see the way her indomitable spirit is woven through every line.”

Filled with laughs and expertly written, the play has as many twists and turns as any crime drama, but it’s the deeply human characters and thought-provoking themes that will leave audiences thinking about the play for days after the show.

“The Pickpocket’s Daughter” performances are at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, May 18-21 and 25-28 in the Helmerich Theater, 533 Eaton St. Tickets are $80 VIP, $60, $50 for members. Visit or call 305-296-0458 for more information.

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