All this week, the Livingston Post will be profiling cast members of the Howell High School Performing Arts Department’s production of “The Dining Room.”
Meredith Frank, 18, is a senior at Howell High School. Her parents are Bill and Terri Frank, and she has a sibling, Colin Frank. She is active in TV/Video Production, Advanced Drama (Collar), and is president of the International Thespian Society. Her hobbies include watching TV, creating and editing videos as Howell High School’s go-to video producer, and collecting retro items like VHS tapes, records, and old technology. She is planning to attend college in New York with a degree in Television Production and Studies, and one day working for NBC at “The Tonight Show” or “Saturday Night Live.”
The Livingston Post asked her a few questions:
How did you get involved with the production?
I’ve been on the crew for the past three years so it just made sense that I decided to work on this production too. “The Dining Room” is actually the fourth play Amanda Malo, our drama teacher, and I considered for this year. I’ve been signed on as the lead stage manager for all four of our options, but once we settled on “The Dining Room,” I was thrilled to take on the opportunity to direct two scenes as well. I’m also going to utilize my other skills in video production to manage our live streamed performance.
Have you been in any other theatrical productions? If so, what roles did you play?
This is my fifth production. I’ve always been crew. It’s what I was recruited for, and I’m good at it. People respect me, and I take a lot of pride in my job. I started as a sophomore managing props for “Twelfth Night,” did some stage managing and directing for last year’s “Peter and the Starcatcher,” and have been the stage manager for several student-run black box productions. Since I’m a senior, “The Dining Room” is my last production at HHS, but I have an amazingly capable crew who will take over for me.
What do you most enjoy about being part of the production?
I’m directing two scenes, and I adore both of them. When I cast my actors, I couldn’t believe how perfectly they fit the roles. One of my scenes is a comedy, which is ideal for me because I love to study comedic timing, intonation, and the chemistry between characters in a comedic scene. I’ve been told by my mom that I’m pretty funny too.
Who is/are your inspiration(s)? Why?
I’ve always been drawn to the idea of being the neurotic but caring TV producer. I really connect to characters like Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) on “30 Rock,” or even Scooter from “The Muppets.” They put everything into making sure the show runs smoothly, and are well-respected as a confidant and problem solver after the cameras stop recording. A real-life example of this would probably be “Saturday Night Live” creator Lorne Michaels. I’d love to build a brand that’s as iconic as SNL one day.
What’s your favorite part of the experience of being in the production?
Opening night is so special. The feeling is indescribable for everyone on the cast and crew. Malo gave me a bracelet on the opening night of my first production that says “all the world’s a stage,” quoting Shakespeare. I always wear it on opening night just to remind myself of how far I’ve come, and how big of a moment that first show was for me.
What can audience members expect when they see the show?
“The Dining Room” is unique in the way that the audience will laugh and cry only minutes apart, multiple times throughout the show. I’d like to believe each audience member can connect to at least one of the 18 stories we tell. Maybe it will remind them of their grandfather, or a conversation they’ve had with their kid. And if I’m in charge, you can expect a high-quality livestream as well.
The Howell High School Performing Arts Department presents “The Dining Room” March 18-21, 2021. The production will be presented at 7 p.m. on March 18-20 and at 2 p.m. on March 21. There will also be a live-streamed performance at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 20. Seating is limited to 150 patrons per show, with assigned seats. Tickets are available online at http://bit.ly/2ZGF1HK.