Writer Weathers Internal Storm With Help From Her Musical’s Debut
The tornado ripped through town in 1957
WEST FARGO, N.D. — Before all the lights and the actors, comes the storyteller who gets touched by inspiration.
“In 2007, I was a reporter for the Forum and we did a series of 50th anniversary stories on the storm. So just in talking to people who had been through it and reading my coworkers stories, I thought their descriptions were so vivid. Somebody should really write a play about it,” said Tracy Frank, writer of the musical “Weather the Storm.”
That means touching on what it means to experience hardships. In June 1957, the deadliest tornado North Dakota has ever seen ripped through Fargo. The tornado killed 12 people, injured more than 100 and destroyed several hundreds of homes.
“In the second half, you have how the storm affected people and how they need to come together as a community to overcome that devastation,” Frank said.
No one can tell the tale of “Weather the Storm” better than the writer who is living through it herself.
“This wasn’t the original title. I actually came up with this after I was diagnosed with cancer,” Frank said.
Although she started writing her production in 2014, Frank had to stop in 2016. Treating neuroendocrine cancer simply became too much.
“I get monthly injections that make me tired for a day or two and every other month I’m going through radiation therapy making me tired and nauseous for a few weeks,” Frank said.
“At some points, we weren’t sure if she was going to live or not,” said Frank’s daughter Caitlin.
Despite it all, Frank had to accept cancer was her new normal.
“I’m reminded everyday that life is short and none of us knows how much time we have so when it comes to things like fighting for your dreams, I’m just really encouraged and pushed to make that happen,” Frank said.
It’s been three years.
“It’s surreal to hear people singing the song lyrics I wrote,” Frank said.
Now even Frank’s two kids are a part of her cast.
“She’s a lot stronger than we thought she was,” Caitlin said.
“As long as you rely on the people around you and who love you, you can do anything. She’s showing that,” said Topher Williams, “Weather the Storm” composer.
While a storm may hit every now and then, there’s always a little sunshine to follow.
“If you want something enough, you can make it happen. It really is an incredible dream come true to see this performed on a stage,” Frank said.
“Weather the Storm” premieres Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Bonanzaville’s Dawson Hall.
June 12-14, 7:00 p.m.
June 20-21, 7:00 p.m.
June 22, 2:00 p.m.