Thespians revisit Anne Frank story


Sophia Bailly

Juniors Natasha Mozden and Rudi Larkin rehearse lines for “Anne Frank”

Theater Director Maureen Fallon has become known for directing mostly light-hearted Broadway musicals, so when she chose this weekend’s production of ‘‘Anne Frank,” about a family in hiding during the Holocaust, she knew she would have to help her students transition to more weighty subject matter.

The story dramatizes the period during the mid 1940s in which Anne Frank and her family hide from the Nazis in an attic in Amsterdam. The Franks, the Van Daans, and a couple other displaced Jewish people all live in Mr. Kraler’s attic for about a year and a half. Eventually, the Nazis find them, and all but Mr. Frank perish in the concentration camps.

“When you watch these people in the attic living, they still had hope that they’d be OK,” she said. “Never in their wildest, most horrific imagination did they believe that they would end up dying. The kids especially never thought that would happen. They thought that they’d get out and return to their daily lives. The adults were a bit more realistic, but they still had hope. So I think that for me the whole play is really about hope and not losing that. Because if you lose hope you’re done.”

In order to better understand the situation, Fallon took the cast on a trip to the Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg on Jan. 7.

“My intention was for the cast to get some sort of feeling for what the Franks and the people who were rooming with them actually went through,” Fallon said. “Because if the performers can do that, and understand it, then when they are on stage they can just be that character, not themselves. Then they will get that across to the audience.”

Fallon said she cast actors she could rely on to prepare, practice and memorize lines immediately after she gave them their scripts. Junior Natasha Mozden will play Anne Frank.

“I feel really proud that I’m getting to portray such an important character,” Mozden said. “What’s different for this character is that she begins as a child, a thirteen-year-old, and grows to be a fifteen-year-old. So you really have to focus on character development, and how she evolves from being really annoying, to always seeing the positive things in life and trying to be the best that she can be in the conditions that she is in.”

Mozden said she watched the 1999 movie “Anne Frank’s Diary”, read “The Diary of Anne Frank”, studied her script and used her trip to the Holocaust Museum in order to portray Anne Frank accurately.

“I feel connected to her now that I know her so well,” Mozden said. “This performance is purely acting and I am mostly a singer. I always do singing events for competitions. But I got to explore the acting part of me, which is understanding a character and character development. It’s also very fun to explore that kind of theater.”

Because casting was done on Dec. 18, the turnaround has been quick, causing the ensemble to work throughout winter vacation.

“Over break I made a schedule for myself, like what I had to memorize when, so I paced myself out,” Mozden said. “I have monologues and memorization, so it’s very hard.”

As the show’s debut approaches, Fallon, Mozden and the rest of the theater department will be rehearsing throughout the week.

“I really want to give [Anne Frank] justice,” Mozden said. “Because she was real and I want to portray her as credibly and as correctly as I can. And I’ve taken inspiration from actresses who have done this [performance] on broadway, such as Natalie Portman and Millie Perkins.”

Fallon and Mozden both said Anne Frank’s journey is an emotional one, and they hope the audience feels that.

“I want the audience in Act One to get a feel for the family and realize that they are human, and that [Anne] isn’t the perfect child,” Mozden said. “She throws tantrums, she’s spoiled sometimes, she can be annoying, but she’s real. That’s who she was. She’s human just like us. I want the audience to connect to that. [The Franks] were real people and that could have happened to any of us. And at the end of the story once [the audience] is so emotionally involved with these characters, I want them to feel that. This is something so important that people can’t just forget about.”

But above all Mozden said that she has one wish for this performance.

“I want everyone to appreciate the entire cast,” Mozden said. “We are all contributing to make the setting of what it really was like for [the Franks]. And tech needs to be appreciated with lights, noise and building our stage for us. And most of all Ms. Fallon needs to be appreciated because she didn’t need to take us to St. Petersburg. But she does everything solely so we can get an understanding of our characters and the show we are doing. She’s just an amazing director and we have to give her the credit she deserves.”

High school thespians will be performing the show “Anne Frank” on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. in the school auditorium. Tickets for the general admission show will available at the door on the day of show.

By Sophia Bailly