Through their recent production of The Diary of Anne Frank, the Hannan Blackfriars transformed Benet Hall Theater at St. Joseph Abbey into the scene of Amsterdam in the 1940s. The play ran from November 9th-11th, and over 550 people came out to witness the hard work the group put into this show. Each actor was able to truly portray the traits of his or her character. Miranda Kramer played the role of Anne Frank, and she took on all aspects of Anne’s personality, from her effervescent side to her more serious and developed side, as she grew fonder of Peter van Daan, played by Steven Wozniak. Matthew Sens and Krista Reich took on the roles of Otto and Edith Frank, providing many poignant moments in the play. Ivana Lobue played Margot Frank, Anne’s quieter and more reserved sister who constantly won over the attention from their mother Edith that Anne so desperately wanted. Joey White, playing the role of an angry man with a constant concern for food, and Emily Richardson, acting as the flirtatious and sophisticated wife, were Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan. Providing much of the comic relief in the play, Anthony Doyle perfectly depicted the last person to join the group, Mr. Dussell. Katherine Leighton and Emile de Laureal acted as Miep Gies and Mr. Kraler, the hiders of the Frank family. Overall, the cast worked together very well to create this touching story of families living in fear and the particular courage of one brave young girl.
According to director Mr. Rodriguez, it takes at least six months to put together a decent production, and preparation for this play began last April. When asked why he chose this play to produce, Rodriguez responded, “I wanted to choose something that had a smaller cast based upon my experiences the last two years…The issue in picking plays here at Hannan is finding one with the right number of men. For any number of reasons, finding enough men interested is always a challenge. Once I found a group of plays with the right-sized cast, I prayed about it and decided The Diary of Anne Frank fit the best, particularly in light of its message about the dignity of the human person.”
Once the play was decided upon, Rodriguez then began the work that goes into putting on a play. Auditions were held and cast members were chosen. Rodriguez attributes the play’s success to the cast and crew. “They worked hard. We cast the show and began rehearsals in September, and 5 days a week, for 9 ½ weeks, the cast was there and gave their all. I pushed them, demanded excellence (I am a bear during tech and dress rehearsals), and they each responded with passion and grace,” explained Rodriguez. The students’ absolute passion for acting clearly stood out in their performances as they gave it their all each and every performance that weekend. Another important key to the prep work was creating the set and working on costumes. This year’s set/props/costumes went above and beyond anything they had done before, and the Sens family deserves many thanks for their dedication in creating such an elaborate scene of the Frank family’s hiding space and Mrs. Lee deserves thanks for her help with the costumes.
In light of the success the Blackfriars program has had thus far, it is no wonder that their future looks very bright. Instead of hosting two major shows this year, the Theatre department has decided to partner with the Dance and Band classes to host a talent show in the spring. This show will be open to any student who wants to perform and share a talent. When asked what the plans are for next school year’s plays, Rodriguez answered, “As far as next fall’s production, now that I know how many talented and interested students we have here at Hannan, I’ll be able to choose a show that offers more acting opportunities. Romeo and Juliet might be interesting…I’m also tossing around the idea of Dracula for next fall…either way, something with blood and people getting stabbed in the heart.” Ideas for next spring’s production include the “insanely fun” musical Back to the 80s. To accomplish this, Rodriguez is looking for more male participation in the theatre program, citing theatre as not only fun but also a way to meet girls! No matter what they decide to do next year, there is no doubt that the performance will be exceptional, due largely to the charisma that Mr. Rodriguez brings to the table. “Collaborating with these young actors and crewmembers to make art is my supreme joy. This is the best job in the world and the best place in the world in which to do it,” commented Rodriguez.
The Hannan community thanks Mr. Rodriguez, his cast, and crew for entertaining us with their dedication and passion. We thank you for all of your hard work, and we cannot wait to see what the future has in store for the Blackfriars, as Hannan and our Theatre program continue to grow.