“And Then They Came For Me” cast members Emma Tompkins, Zoë Wade, Collin Young and Derek Kingsley. Photo by Linwood Leland

The last time Footlights Theatre in Falmouth staged a play about the Holocaust, it made headlines.

Not for the production itself, but for the volume of hate calls and emails the theater received.

Executive artistic director Michael J. Tobin admitted he had reservations when considering a different Holocaust-themed play for its 2022-23 season, given that history.

But he said that was almost a stronger reason to do it.

“It’s a hard watch, but it’s supposed to be. We can’t let people forget,” Tobin said, adding that antisemitism in this country has only worsened in the last five years. “If we stop doing these shows, hate wins.”

“And Then They Came For Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank” will run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday for four weeks, from March 16 through April 8, at Footlights.


The play, written by James Still, tells a story of the Holocaust mostly through two characters who were connected to the famous diarist. One, Eva Schloss, was the same age as Frank, lived in the same apartment building in Amsterdam and also went into hiding with her family.

Also like the Franks, Schloss was betrayed, captured by Nazis and sent to a concentration camp. Unlike Frank, though, Schloss and her mother survived, and once the war was over, the mother ended up marrying Otto Frank, Anne’s father, the only member of that family to come out alive.

The other main character, Ed Silverberg, was Anne Frank’s first boyfriend, whom she wrote about in the beginning of her now-famous diary. He, too, survived the Holocaust and later immigrated to the United States, where he died in 2015 at age 89.

The play is a unique experience because it intersperses scenes of actors re-creating dramatic moments from the characters’ lives with videotaped interviews of the actual survivors.

Lindsey Higgins, who will direct, said she was drawn to telling this story even if it might spur more hateful comments from people who feel more emboldened than ever to be open with their hate.

Tobin said he’s gotten a handful of hate calls since announcing “And Then They Came For Me.”


“It’s a fine line to walk between adding more fuel and honoring the stories and the humanity,” Higgins said. “But that piece is the most important to me, being able to dig into the history and keep it alive.”

The theater has partnered with the Maine Jewish Museum as well and plans to have postshow discussions with members of the Jewish community.

Tobin said coming out of the pandemic, theaters have had to be more thoughtful about what they stage because audiences have been slow to come back.

“I think we saw a lot of comedy because the assumption was that people just wanted to laugh,” he said. “And that’s true, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do thought-provoking stuff too. We still have to take risks.”

Higgins, a Presque Isle native now living in South Portland, previously directed Monica Wood’s “Papermaker” at Footlights and said she loves the atmosphere Tobin has created.

“When Michael brings you into that world, you feel really cared for,” she said. “He operates on a shoestring and in a gritty way that is appealing to me.”


Footlights is celebrating its 10th year of bringing mostly original works that haven’t been shown before to Maine audiences. Located on Route 1 in Falmouth behind a real estate office, nail salon and UPS store, the theater is intimate. The capacity is 75, but the stage is not raised, and audiences are extraordinarily close to the performances.

The theater hires professional actors and technicians, but its overhead is low. Tobin is the only full-time paid staff member.

Before it was a theater, the space was home to a church and then a showroom for Martha Stewart Home products. Tobin likes to joke that he “has Martha Stewart and God on my side.”

The theater produces main stage shows every month (tickets are $20) and also rents the space out for music, comedy and other performances, something it hopes to do more of in the coming years. Tobin said, as artistic director, he gives preferences to new work – he’s staged many plays he’s written, too – and hires on Maine-based actors and techs.

Even though Footlights has been around for a decade, Tobin said he still faces challenges getting attention because his theater is just outside Portland. But he’s already looking to the future.

“Getting people in the door is the hardest part,” he said. “But we’re still here. I like to call this the little theater that could.”

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