Frank Frank at The Tradition-Prestonwood where he is living — and where he continues to offer directorial wisdom.
“Have you ever been onstage?” Frank Frank was asked recently. His very presence demands the question.
“Only when I fell out of the box seat,” he replies. One can’t help but laugh. There’s just a hint of Groucho Marx redux, sans cigar.
In fact, Frank (Herman Frank, actually, but since everyone calls him Frank, he’s “Frank Frank”) was for decades a theater director in New York. A professional printer by day, he always had at least one or two plays he was directing at night on the side. In this way, he was never subject to the vagaries of his chosen art. He and his wife, Nettie, successfully raised three children with bread always on the table — and the smell of grease paint in the air.
“My sister took me to Harlem to see vaudeville.
I was bitten and smitten!"
Growing up in the Bronx, he was a “ham” with a fixation about acting. “My sister took me to Harlem to see vaudeville. I was bitten and smitten!” In junior high, he wrote, directed, and acted in the school play. Word got out about his talent, and soon one Jewish Temple after another contacted him about directing their fund-raisers — which always had lots of kids.
After being in special services in the Air Force during World War II, where he raised the morale of the troops by producing entertainment, he returned to New York to be a printer by day, director by night for community theaters and Temple fund-raisers.
What are his favorite plays? “Any play by Neil Simon. All are good. And ‘Death of a Salesman’ — that hits people where they live,” said Frank.
His advice to actors and directors today? Present the truth. “New York audiences in particular are tough. You must present the truth.”
His advice to actors and directors today?
Present the truth.
With that said, he’s always one for giving actors hope and encouragement. An eighty-year-old woman called him recently from New York. He had directed her successfully in several plays years ago, and she asked him if she should try out for the role of Gypsy Rose Lee in a community theater. Yes, the ingénue lead. “I said of course! Why not?”
She didn’t get the role, but she did receive a life-giving dose of Frank Frank in the process.
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