Our Current 2016-2017 Season:

Our Current 2016-2017 Season:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Amy Cassell Travels the World to Find a Home at the Barn

Amy Cassell contemplates her next diary entry as Anne Frank
PHOTO by Jan Cartwright
Amy Cassell’s world travels have taken her far and wide, but she never expected that a visit to Amsterdam would prepare her so well for her first role at the Barn.  Amy is playing Anne in Farmington Players’ production of The Diary of Anne Frank, and she previously visited the Frank house in Amsterdam.  Amy says she can “actually picture the cramped living quarters. I remember seeing the bookcase and feeling especially confronted. That one piece of furniture was the last thing protecting them from an outside world that was hunting them. The terror they must have felt when they heard unidentified rattles outside it is almost unfathomable.”

Amy considers playing the role of Anne Frank an “incredible honor and challenge to portray and do justice to, just because of her contribution to society in her short life. What would she have done had she been allowed to live? The role is such a fantastic one because of Anne's growth throughout the play; you can see her maturing and really coming into her own, while maintaining that incredible vivacious energy. At the same time, it's a challenging development to portray with subtlety, but I'm so glad I have the opportunity to do it.”   Like Anne, Amy was “a very energetic and creative child, so I can definitely relate to Anne's aversion to any form of stasis. However I was lucky enough to have freedom and a wealth of creative outlets, so I can only imagine the pain and immense frustration she must have felt in the suffocating annex.”

So what brought Amy to the Farmington Players?  As she says, “I started researching them because I'd heard great things about the shows they put on and the people in the company. When I saw they were putting on The Diary of Anne Frank, I knew I wanted to be involved. I've always had a passion for history and this is such a classic and important story. It's such a powerful play, no matter how many times I've seen or read it, how many different ways it's interpreted, it still clutches at my heart. It never becomes less shocking, the atrocities that humans are capable of committing, and getting to know these families, and knowing how it all ends, it really hits home. I felt ready to take on the challenge of a play of this magnitude and I felt it was a very important production to be a part of.”

Amy enjoys the challenges of playing such a thematically dark show, but also believes that audiences will “enjoy being able to relate to the family dynamics and the adolescent experience that is portrayed,” including the humorous exchanges between Gary Weinstein and Nancy Cooper as Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan.  Amy feels “the play will be relevant forever because of the themes of family and growing up, but also because history does repeat itself.  I think it's important to always remember the Holocaust, especially as similar atrocities are occurring around the world right now.”

Amy is an Australian native, and in the past 18 months, she has backpacked around Europe and learned to ski in Banff, Canada, before moving to Michigan four months ago.  She studied Journalism in college but now works as a Patient Advocate in a women’s clinic in Southfield.


The Farmington Players production of The Diary of Anne Frank is proudly sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers. The show includes 12 performances from February 12 – March 5. Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by contacting the Barn box office at boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or 248-553-2955.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Cage Match: Laurel Stroud Fights Internal Strife as Mrs. Frank

Laurel Stroud as Mrs. Frank overlooking Amy Cassell as daughter Anne (seated) in a rare happy mother-daughter moment
PHOTO by Jan Cartwright
In The Diary of Anne Frank, one of the central relationships is between Anne and her mother Edith.  Anne is just entering her teenage years, and like many teens, the mother-daughter dynamic can be an emotional rollercoaster. In the Farmington Players’ production of Anne Frank, Laurel Stroud plays Mrs. Frank.  Laurel “can relate to Mrs. Frank and Anne's bumpy relationship.  I often feel that the people around me don't understand me.”

Laurel also connects with Mrs. Frank’s feelings of displacement: “Before the war, her life had always been very comfortable, and I think living in the annex was a shock to her system.  Her manners and upbringing keep her from venting her feelings, making her feel caged emotionally as well as physically.  I like playing her because although I have thankfully never been confined geographically, I have felt pressure to ‘mind my manners’ at all times.  The acting challenges come from the confined space of the set.  There are eight of us in an intentionally small space.  There really is nowhere to go.” 

Laurel re-read Anne’s diary to prepare for her role, saying, “It helped me focus on the family, on Anne and her personal experience. I wanted to be a part of this important and relevant story.  It is important that we keep Anne's story alive, keep her famous.”  Laurel believes that Anne’s story still resonates today:  “At its core, this is a story about a young girl who refuses to lose hope.  Her willingness to dream of the future in the midst of horror encourages all of us to do the same.  The show is especially relevant today as we are still and again exposed to the voices of those who would discriminate against people who are not like themselves. The play is a reminder of why we can't let those voices prevail.” 

Laurel lives in Redford and loves to cook, bake, and garden.  She is active at Christ Church in Redford and works for Lone Buffalo where she helps edit the clipsheet for Ford Motor Company.  Laurel is a recent winner of the Barn’s Torchbearer award and CTAM’s volunteer service award.

The Farmington Players production of The Diary of Anne Frank is proudly sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers. The show includes 12 performances from February 12 – March 5. Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by contacting the Barn box office at boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or 248-553-2955.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Light in the Midst of Darkness: Madison Krumins Shines as Anne Frank's Sister

Madison Krumins plays Margot Frank, Anne's older sister

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”  Anne Frank wrote this in her diary in the midst of the darkest days of World War II.  It says a lot about her as a person – defiant, yet optimistic in the face of unfathomable desolation – and it also reminds us why her story still resonates today.  The Farmington Players’ production of The Diary of Anne Frank opens on February 12 and includes a matinee on Valentine’s Day.  So why would you want to see such a dark drama on a day devoted to love?  I suggest that finding a little light in the midst of darkness will make you value life, and your loved ones, even more.  

In the Barn’s production, Madison Krumins plays Margot Frank, Anne’s older sister.  Madison finds Margot to be “a surprisingly challenging role. She doesn’t speak much, and is very meek and quiet. She’s very fragile. It’s hard for me to connect with Margot. Even though people see me as quiet, and even the ‘Margot type,’ it’s really not me at all. I like the challenge of playing this role.”   Despite this challenge, Madison definitely connects with the story, saying, “I can relate to Anne’s love for her diary! I hold my journals very dear to me. I write to express myself, relieve stress, and just for fun sometimes.”

In talking about the play, Madison displays a maturity well beyond her 16 years: “I wanted to be in The Diary of Anne Frank because it’s been on my bucket list for a while. It’s a sad story with an unpleasant ending, but it shows the strength these people had to stay in hiding for that long, and it shows Anne’s wonderful positivity that we can all look to as an example. I believe audiences will enjoy the show—just like the cast and crew are still able to enjoy the show—because of the deeper messages of strength, hope, love, and faith.” 

The events depicted in Anne Frank happened over 70 years ago.  I asked Madison why this story is still relevant today.  She said, “The story of Anne Frank is important to remember especially in today’s world, because it gives us an up-close and personal look at people who are persecuted. Politics tend to dehumanize and desensitize death, and the only way we can break that view of the world is through compassion. There are many people in the world today being persecuted, not unlike how the Jews and many others were in World War II. There are Anne Franks still today.”

Despite the dark subject matter, Madison said that “the cast always finds a way to smile during rehearsals. Sometimes we can get a little unfocused when we’re joking and laughing, but it keeps our heads up amidst the heaviness of the story. I’m happy to be working with this wonderful cast!”  Madison is a sophomore at Waterford Kettering High School, and plays saxophone, guitar, and piano, sings in U of M’s Youth Chamber Choir, and is a Drum Major for her school’s marching band.  Among Madison’s favorite shows/roles are: Betty Haynes in White Christmas, Anna in The Amish Project, and Juniper in Midwinter Break.

The Farmington Players production of The Diary of Anne Frank is proudly sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers. The show includes 12 performances from February 12 – March 5. Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by contacting the Barn box office at boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or 248-553-2955.


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