Earlier this month we had a chance to catch up with Sophie Williams, an 18-year-old senior who will portray Anne Frank in our upcoming production, and who has been a Rose Kid since she was about 12. Sophie first came to The Rose through a summer camp. She was involved with the Production Camp Fiddler on the Roof Jr., and enjoyed her time that summer. At the end of the camp, Sue Gillespie Booton, the director of Broadway at The Rose classes, approached Sophie and her mother, asking if she’d like to try out for Rose Brigade. The rest is history.
Sophie has been involved in Rose classes and The Rose Brigade each year since. “I really love Brigade. It was such a great place to start before taking the leap to trying out for a mainstage show. It’s nice that everyone in Brigade is a student and around the same age…it is a really inviting environment. You also get so many opportunities to perform and get used to being in front of a crowd. JTF (the Junior Theater Festival) is always super fun, and getting to compete against peers is amazing. The opportunity to perform before a mainstage show with the Brigade also helped me really see myself on that stage. Before The Rose, all I had ever done was dancing, so getting to take acting classes and do more singing helped me get out of my shell to try out for a mainstage show.”
Sophie has now done five shows at The Rose, including The Diary of Anne Frank. Starting with Peter and the Startcatcher, followed by Madagascar, Newsies, Goosebumps, and now, The Diary of Anne Frank.
“Goosebumps has been my favorite show before this experience. It was really well cast, such a wonderful cast, and my first bigger part–my own solo, a lot of lines, it was a great moment for me, and helped boost my confidence as an actor,” said Williams.
Despite having a larger role in Goosebumps, when it came to auditions for Anne Frank, Williams was not sure what to expect. “I came in, and it was a little different than what I was used to. We weren’t just provided a script, we were given different monologues and pieces, so I didn’t know how it would go — but then I got a callback, which was so exciting! At callbacks I read a lot of different scenes with lots of different people, but the last thing I read was with Otto Fox. Otto and I read a scene between Anne and Peter, and it was a scene where Peter and Anne are getting to know each other, and it felt like we had good energy.”
After the callback, Williams said it seemed like forever until she heard back. It was nerve-wracking to wait, and not know if she was going to get a part in the show. The day she got the call, her mom informed her after school, and she was ecstatic. “I also found out that Otto got in too, which was very cool, because I thought we had good energy when reading together.”
“Now that we are in rehearsals, I am so excited. This cast is great, Rachel (the director) has done an amazing job. I really think it’s about perfect because everyone is so wonderful. Rachel is a great director. She told us early on that she is someone who likes to give actors room to make things their own, but not so much freedom that we feel like we don’t know what we are doing.” Williams goes on to talk about how she feels very comfortable working with Rachel to bring this character to life.
“Anne Frank is an iconic person in history. I was really nervous going into rehearsals about really making sure that I get this right, because so many people know the story, have been impacted by the story…and this cast, with Rachel directing has helped put me a little more at ease. This is my first time doing something this heavy, and intense, and Rachel and this cast do a great job supporting each other, and helping everyone work through everything. Knowing that I have such a strong cast and director, and a really really great set, and I love the costumes…knowing all of these systems help support this work and this show, it takes a little bit of the pressure off of feeling like I have to ‘be Anne’ alone. The show as a whole tells her story in this beautiful way.”
The Diary of Anne Frank opens on Feb. 28th and runs through March 15th. Catch Sophie Williams, and the entire cast of Anne Frank at The Rose Theater for what is sure to be an unforgettable experience.