Vandebilt Catholic High School students (from left) Brittany Eschete, Anna Lee, Rayni Francis, James Chauvin, Katie Shexnayder, Eric Garcia, Kami Ellender, Nicole Theriot, Whitney Theriot, Charles Gyer and John Casey are seen with Margot Garon (center), a Holocaust survivor, and Plater Robinson (top left), a Holocaust education specialist. The students visited with Garon to understand the significance of the Holocaust to help the drama students with an upcoming play.
School's theater group tackles history with production
Michael F. Vinning - Thibodaux Daily Comet
Friday, April 3, 2009
Vandebilt Catholic High School’s theater club is making history — actually staging history with two productions.
A two-part production, “And Then They Came For Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank and 100 Years of Broadway is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 3 and 4, and 2 p.m. April 5 at the Houma school, 209 S. Hollywood Road.
“This will truly be a night of entertainment you won’t soon forget,” said Anne Mohana, director of the drama portion of the show. “It’s very different from our past shows which have mostly been big musical productions that were light and fluffy.”
The show features two groups of students — a show choir and a drama group. Mohana said the show opens with the Medley Group and their presentation of “100 Years of Broadway.”
“It’s about 40 minutes of the best show tunes from the last 100 years of Broadway — tunes that many older residents grew up with,” she said.
The second part of the show is a dramatic production entitled, “And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank.”
“The piece depicts the lives of Anne Frank and two other young characters from her diary,” Mohana said. “The story line jumps back and forth through time.”
The play also features an audio-visual component, in which footage of the actual survivors are projected onto a big screen placed on stage with the student actors.
“Footage of the characters in their older years will be played on screen while their younger selves will be acted out on stage by the students,” Mohana said. “There is one part in the play where one of the young characters actually appears to be talking to his older self on screen; it makes for some very interesting drama.”
The play has won American Theater awards by tackling some serious issues while being written sensitively enough for young audiences.
“This is a great way to introduce these disturbing topics of war and holocaust to audiences in fifth, sixth and seventh grades,” Mohana said. “As adults we have to shield our younger kids from the horrors of these stories, but children are resilient and intelligent; they can handle the subject matter if presented in the right way — and this play is the right way.”
She said three local pre-teens have parts in the play as Hitler youths.
“I didn’t think they really understood the magnitude of the information they were playing a part of,” Mohana said. “Just goes to show you how bright young kids are because they went home one night and had a lengthy conversation about the topic with their parents at dinner.”
The production serves as more than just merely entertainment. Students involved in the piece made a trip to New Orleans to meet and speak with a woman who fled to Monroe with her family during the Holocaust to get a deeper understanding of the parts they would be playing.
Mohana added that she admits the play is a little risky.
“It is definitely not light, fluffy or a safe call,” she said. “I don’t think there are many other high schools out there that would be willing to tackle such a seriously dramatic event.”
The two performances together is approximately two hours and 15 minutes including intermission. The Medley Group is being co-directed by Ginny Medina-Hamilton and Hannah Arceneaux.
Tickets cost $5 for students and $8 for adults. Adults who bring 10 students get one free adult admission. All tickets will be sold at the door starting 30 minutes before each performance. For information, call Mohana at 876-2551.