Young director sets her sights on Tinseltown Star-struck: At age 10, a diminutive Thespian has already written, produced and directed movie adaptations for the stage.

December 22, 1997|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

As the crowd gathered in the community room of the Weinberg House in Pikesville for the show yesterday, some wondered who the performers would be.

The flier, "Claire Vogelstein Productions presents Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," did little to shed light on the question.

"The name of the lady in charge is Claire Vogelstein," one resident said knowingly.

But the producer who stepped up to introduce the show was not yet a lady, but a 10-year-old girl.

Dressed as Snow White's wicked stepmother with a flowing black robe and dark eye shadow, Claire Vogelstein stood before an audience of about 50 senior citizens. "I directed the play. I wrote it. I produced it. And I'm going to be in it," said the dimpled brunette.

Her adaptation of the classic fairy tale included rap music, an apple that strangles the hapless heroine and a performance of the Macarena by dwarfs in party hats.

Reviews from the residents were favorable.

"She's a remarkably talented girl. This is a God-given gift," pronounced Esther Finifter.

"She's a talent," agreed Hannah Miller. "A few more rehearsals and they are ready for the Lyric [Theatre]."

No offense, Baltimore, but Claire has set her sights higher. She wants nothing less than to be a child movie director in Hollywood.

"I was sitting down at the kitchen table one day thinking about what I want to do with my life and I said, 'I want to direct,' " Claire recalled.

More than a hobby

She has been performing for her family since she could talk, acts in school plays and at drama camp, and in the past three years started to write and direct -- first adapting "The Lion King," then the Old Testament story of Queen Esther and now "Snow White."

The performances have been at schools or residences for senior citizens, but Jan. 11, Claire Vogelstein Productions takes its show to Bibelot bookstore in Pikesville.

Claire Vogelstein's family is no stranger to success. Her uncle Robert Lawrence is a producer of such hit movies as "Clueless" and "Die Hard With a Vengeance." Another uncle is renowned genetic researcher Dr. Bert Vogelstein. She has an aunt who is a critically acclaimed playwright in New York. Her father, Dr. Barry Vogelstein, is an orthopedic surgeon. But even in this family of achievers, Claire stands out.

"She's been an adult since she was 1 1/2 ," her father said of his third child. "Claire is a very special person. She has a way with people and a way with the arts."

A born manager

As a budding director, the Krieger Schechter Day School fifth-grader oversees more than a dozen performers and crew members, who include her brothers, sister, cousins and schoolmates. They assemble each week at the Vogelsteins' house in Owings Mills for rehearsal, with Claire demanding their attention.

She can be firm, as at yesterday's performance, when she insisted that her brother Daniel change his shirt before going on stage and refused to consider a change in music that her cousin Ahava recommended.

"That's the way I want it," she said in a tone that permits no argument.

But even with her toughness, Claire goes out of her way to give credit to her cast and crew, praising her cousin Arielle Vogelstein's interpretation of Bashful, her cousin Aviva's performance as Grumpy and elder sister Hana Rose's talent with makeup.

Supportive family

The Vogelsteins encourage Claire's dream, buying her a video camera, enrolling her in drama camp and taking her for movie auditions. But her father worries about his daughter's pursuit of fame.

"There's no real phoniness in her, and there is a lot in the industry," said her father, who buys doughnuts for the cast and helps move props on stage.

"She keeps telling everyone she will be famous," said Hana Rose, who is four years older.

"That's what I want," Claire said with that voice that demands to be obeyed.

Pub Date: 12/22/97

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