“Horror of the HolocaustBHS thespians find life, love and death in wartime France”

"Think of Rachel Símon as a fresh-air version of Anne Frank.Rachel, the preteen heroine of Remember My Name - the fall Bainbridge High School production which opened last night for a three-week run at the LGI theater - is a young Jewish girl growing up in the south of France during World War II.As the German war tanks roll over her homeland, Rachel's parents make the agonizing choice to send her under an alias to live in a remote French mountain village - naively believing that she may be able to live there untouched by the cruelties of war until peace has returned.Instead, the shy, sweet-natured 10-year-old winds up concealed amidst a conflicted cast of characters with the Maquis - the French Underground resistance movement - and finds her burgeoning being and beliefs challenged to their core by a cruelly zealous Nazi lieutenant.The show is the first directed by Bob McAllister following his retirement last summer after a 30-year teaching career at BHS.The first time I read it, it brought tears to my eyes, said McAllister, who was casting about for a message production in the vein of last year's Bang, Bang, You're Dead. "

  • Saturday, November 4, 2000 12:00pm
  • News

“Think of Rachel Símon as a fresh-air version of Anne Frank.Rachel, the preteen heroine of Remember My Name – the fall Bainbridge High School production which opened last night for a three-week run at the LGI theater – is a young Jewish girl growing up in the south of France during World War II.As the German war tanks roll over her homeland, Rachel’s parents make the agonizing choice to send her under an alias to live in a remote French mountain village – naively believing that she may be able to live there untouched by the cruelties of war until peace has returned.Instead, the shy, sweet-natured 10-year-old winds up concealed amidst a conflicted cast of characters with the Maquis – the French Underground resistance movement – and finds her burgeoning being and beliefs challenged to their core by a cruelly zealous Nazi lieutenant.The show is the first directed by Bob McAllister following his retirement last summer after a 30-year teaching career at BHS.The first time I read it, it brought tears to my eyes, said McAllister, who was casting about for a message production in the vein of last year’s Bang, Bang, You’re Dead.Everytime that happens, I thought, ‘I’ve got to stage this.’His students were equally moved by the script by Joanna Kraus, written in 1993 and staged around the country by various repertory companies.Mr. McAllister has always told us that the best stories are told when there’s great emotions involved, said BHS senior John Moore, co-student director with fellow senior Eden Nordby. You’ve got love, death and family – it’s a pretty accurate depiction of what was going on.Yet, lest audiences get the sense that the show is two hours of heavy Holocaust-tinged gloom, there’s a sprinkling of humor and lighter humanity to complement the show’s snappy pacing.That’s how real people get through their hard times, Nordby observed. People laugh to keep from crying.Remember My Name is a change of pace from BHS’ usual slate of ensemble-heavy comedies and musicals, and competition for the 10 speaking roles was strong from among 75-some students who turned out for auditions.Handling the headlining role is junior Tania Anderson, in her first major BHS production. Student stage veterans Kathy Beemer and Bret Brintzenhofe handle the roles of her parents (only one of whom makes it back from the concentration camps at the war’s end). Rachel’s new Resistance cronies are composed of reluctant widow Marie-Therese Barbiere (Jessica Ziakin), plucky schoolteacher ingenue Suzanne Fleury (Clare Paterson), Maquis leader Julien Delacour (PJ Madden) and the brave and wise clergyman Peré Antoine (Ben Kamber). Darkening their doorsteps – literally – are the shrewish neighbor Yvette Reynaud (Abby Marshall) and French constable Gerard La Salle (Ian Steele). The plum villain role, however, goes to Nazi Lieutenant Hans Schmidt, who, as played by senior Sam Cheadle, stomps in jackboots and swishes a riding crop with alternatingly frightening and funny fervor.All the parts were important and equal, so everyone had to be strong actors, Moore said of the upperclassmen-only cast.Nordby says the play has appeal far beyond the ages of its cast.The characters are of all ages, she said, so there’s something for everyone to relate to. “

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