As Mr. vanDaan with Connie
in "The Diary of Anne Frank"
November 8 - 17, 2002
- An independent production staged at the WICA theater

Norm and Connie in character
Norm and Connie in character

My Memories of "The Diary of Anne Frank"

In her elementary school class's production of "James and the Giant Peach",
Connie had the title role and and enjoyed the well-earned applause she
recieved. In middle school, she began planning with her classmate Ryan to
produce a superior production of "The Diary of Anne Frank" with Connie
as Anne. Ryan had seen a production of the play and was dismayed that it
was very theatrical looking and unbelievable. He determined to produce and
direct a truly realistic version. They decided to delay their project for a year to
give time to find an excellent cast and production crew. They decided to add
Martha Furey to assist and mentor Ryan.

Ryan was very familiar with the local theater personell, and chose a great cast
of teenagers and adults. Ryan knew the director of the local children's theater,
Martha Murphy, and she urged him to replace Connie with an actress who had
starred in her plays. Connie objected, and a compromise was reached: Both
actresses would play the part on different nights. An introductory scene was
added of a friend of Anne setting the scene, and the actresses also shared
that role on different nights. But the other actress joined the cast quite late
and then missed many rehearsals due to a previous commitment. So Connie
was given the additional responsibility of teaching her the stage directions
she had missed on where to stand, when to speak, which way to face, and
when to move.

I was driving Connie to the rehearsals, and one night I decided to stay and
watch. They asked me to read a part, because one of the actors had just
resigned from the cast. I agreed and enjoyed reading the part and following
the staging directions. After the rehearsal, they asked me to take the role
permanently. I had not done much acting before, except in high school class
plays and a few short skits, and discovered I enjoyed it a lot. (Of course,
it was great fun practicing running lines at home with Connie.) After the play
ended, I began auditioning for other commuity theater plays.

Ryan insisted on a realistic feel for the audience. He avoided the usual
theater rules against upstaging other actors: He allowed line of sight
problems, he permitted actors to stand with their backs to the audience,
he had all costume changes done in full view of the audience, and during the
intermission, the actors were to remain on stage as they rearranged furniture
while remaining strictly in character. I recall a friend in the audience tried to
greet me during the intermission, but I remained in character and ignored her.

One night while we were driving to the rehearsal, Connie asked me for some
advice. The script called for her to scream as from a nightmare in one scene.
She said she had never screamed before and wanted to try one. I told her to
go ahead and scream. She gave a loud, terrifying, blood-curdling scream.
After I got the car back onto the road, I assured her that her scream was
perfect. In every performance, when the theater was totally dark and silent,
since the characters were all sleeping, Connie would give out her startling
nightmare scream. One of the actors who was near her later confided to me
that even though he knew that scream was coming, it would leave him startled
and shaking every time.

We rented the local theater, and they were concerned that our "amateur"
production would fail. They offered to refund our rental cost for one night,
but our play was a huge success, with standing ovations and some sold out
performances. Our producer surprised us after the final performance when
the production was acually profitable and gave each actor a small share of
those profits!

Connie was superb in her portrayal of Anne, and Martha Muphy told her,
that her performance was "Spectacular!".


Click here
for photos of
the set strike
and cast party

  Link to "Diary of Anne Frank" Set Break and Cast Party

( Click here for the larger version. )

Link to Home PageLink to Norm's Actor Career Page

Digital Photographs by Norm Boynton and Connie Stumpf, Copyright 2002, all rights reserved.