Every director has made casting mistakes. Steven Spielberg to a second-grade teacher doing “The Magic Schoolbus.” I have made my share. In my defense, I have made some brilliant choices. Every now and then there is a monumental mistake that haunts you. This story haunts me to this day and is never mentioned in my house. The Diary of Anne Frank is a brilliant play and a great story for high school students. There are parts of this show that are my favorite and I believe it was the best overall production I did. There were some interesting things about the production that will stay with me. A funny and awkward situation occurred with our student exchange. The teachers and kids had always wanted to see a play in an American high school. Usually, when they visited we weren’t doing a play and were just in rehearsals. This was their chance and then I realized we were doing a German exchange. Luckily the kids and teachers enjoyed the show.
The set was one of my favorites of all time. It was tiered and really enhanced the story. I still have the original model that was designed for the show. I did a couple of tricks to make the show even more realistic. During intermission, the cast stayed on stage and in character. They went one by one, into a small “bathroom” and changed clothes for Act 2. The other thing I had seen with other amateur shows was that the guards came from the wings. That was too easy and unrealistic. In real life, they came upstairs into the attic. We had our German guards in the pit and came up at the end of the show. Some of the characters come in at the beginning and we also put them in the pit. We allowed the soldiers to have a PlayStation in the pit. They had to be there for two hours and we couldn’t get them to the pit without the audience seeing them. So everyone that was in the pit had to be there from the time we opened the theatre until they came onstage.
So far this sounds like a top-notch show. Well let me not move to the casting and you will see how this will go. I decided to do a double cast for some of the parts. One cast would do Wednesday dress rehearsal but also a middle school night. Thursday and Saturday night would be the other cast. It sounded good in theory but didn’t work out as well as it should have. The two roles of Anne and her sister Margot really stood out in rehearsals but I stuck to my original idea. I didn’t switch the Morgot actress to play with the other Anne. You might not think it makes a big difference but it does. chemistry and rapport are important onstage and come across during the performances. I kept the casts in order and had made that decision too early. If I had thought about it I would have switched but I also didn’t want to be accused of favoritism. The better Margot was my daughter Kaila and I should have let her do the opening and closing night. Both casts did okay but I think that simple change would have made a good performance great. We don’t mention it at my house. My daughter is still mad and apparently, she holds a grudge.