In 2006 the Mint re-introduced audiences to Rose Franken, Broadway playwright and director as well as Hollywood screenwriter and novelist, with SOLDIER’S WIFE. Directed by Tony Award nominee Eleanor Reissa, the production was the play’s first in 62 years.

Franken’s touching play tells the story of Kate, a soldier’s wife whose newfound independence—and new baby—unsettle her husband John when he’s invalided home after a tour of duty in the South Pacific in World War II. To complicate things further, Kate and John must grapple with unexpected fame when the letters Kate wrote John are about to published as a book entitled “Soldier’s Wife”.

Mint’s heartfelt revival was praised for capturing the play’s delicate balance of humor and poignancy, as well as its detailed depiction of the era. “A tenderhearted but shrewdly knowing tale,”1wrote Michael Feingold in the Village Voice, while Marilyn Stasio of Variety wrote, “when the Mint revives a play, they do it proud.”2 SOLDIER’S WIFE was nominated for two Drama Desk Awards: Outstanding Revival of a Play and Outstanding Featured Actress for Judith Hawking’s poignant turn as Kate’s sister Florence.

Rose Franken (1895-1988) Born Rosebud Dougherty Lewin in Gainesville, Texas. Her parents separated shortly after she was born so Rose and her three older siblings were raised in the family brownstone in Harlem. She was set to enter Barnard College in 1913 but instead she married Dr. Walter Franken. They spent their first ten months of married life at a sanitarium while her husband’s tuberculosis went into remission.

Franken’s writing career began by accident, when she found a mis-delivered typewriter on her doorstep and promptly wrote her first story. Her husband offered enthusiastic encouragement and she continued to write to amuse him. She gave immediate evidence not only of talent and craft, but of a keen business sense and a professional attitude.

Franken’s play, Another Language, was produced in 1932 and was a surprising success, running for 453 performances. Her husband died the following year and Franken then moved to Hollywood with her three children, ages 13, 8 and 5, where she had a lucrative screenwriting career. In 1937 she married William Meloney, one of her Hollywood writing partners and they moved back east to a farm in Connecticut. There she wrote the first of her famous “Claudia” novels, which she dramatized in 1941. Franken directed the successful production, although she had neither training nor experience. “For an author to write a play and not cast and direct it is a little like having a baby and turning it over to a nurse as soon as it’s born.

In 1943, Franken wrote the play Outrageous Fortune; her most ambitious play, quite daring for its portrayal of two homosexual characters—again she directed. When producer Gilbert Miller dropped the play after its Boston tryout received poor notices, Franken and her husband stepped in and brought the play to New York themselves. The play was acclaimed by some and condemned by others and closed after 77 performances. The following year Franken again teamed with her husband to produce Soldier’s Wife, which she also directed.


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  • Kate Angela Pierce
  • Craig Jordan Lage
  • Florence Judith Hawking
  • Peter Kate Levy
  • John Michael Polak


  • Set Design Nathan Heverin
  • Lighting Design Josh Bradford
  • Costume Design Clint Ramos
  • Sound Design Elizabeth Rhodes
  • Properties Design Scott Brodsky
  • Dramaturgy Amy Stoller
  • Casting
    Stuart Howard, Amy Schecter & Paul Hardt
  • Production Stage Manager Karen Hergesheimer
  • Assistant Stage Manager Elyzabeth Gorman
  • Press Representative David Gersten & Associates
  • Graphics Hey Jude Design, Inc.


Glenda Frank, professor of American literature and theater at FIT-SUNY, discusses the life and work of this once beloved but now forgotten writer. Ms. Frank writes the New York column for Plays International and reviews for New York Theater Wire.


Andrew Carroll, director of The Legacy Project — whose mission is to preserve correspondence from our nation’s wars — author of Behind the Lines and editor of the volumes Letters of a Nation and War Letters, speaks on the powerful and revealing letters that soldiers have written during war, and his search to find them.