The Diary of Anne Frank
Studio 1 produces moving version of 'Anne Frank'
By Charity Apple / Times-News
Posted Dec. 10, 2015 at 3:00 AM
Soft light illuminates the stage as a young girl sits, poised at a desk with pen in hand and a diary before her.
It is one of the many memorable moments in Studio 1’s production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.”
The play, by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, is based on the famous diary of a young Jewish girl during the Holocaust. The show has special meaning for director Joe Don Baker, whose grandparents were enslaved in the camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. He has dedicated this show to his grandmother, who is now 101.“It cannot be factually determined whether my beloved Busia and Anne Frank ever crossed paths, but it is my belief that they must have to some extent,” Baker said.
Amongst all the chaos, good people like Miep Gies (Terry Wilvers) and Mr. Kraler (Jason Matthews) were willing to risk their own lives to hide eight Jewish people from the Nazis.Poignant, powerful and beautifully performed, “The Diary of Anne Frank” reveals the strength of these real-life characters. For two years, they hid in a Secret Annex of a building owned by Otto Frank. The set was masterfully designed by Randy Phillips and Dale Johnson and illustrates the cramped living space the two families and the former dentist, Mr. Dussel (Richard Phinney) had to share.
It’s difficult for most of us to imagine the tension or anxiety that existed back then, yet Studio 1’s production recreates it through the way the actors react with fear every time a siren sounds or the loud footsteps of Nazi soldiers can be heard marching through the streets.Otto Frank (Parry Wilvers) and Edith Frank (Mandy Cardwell) portray what a challenge it must’ve been to parent Anne and Margot (Madison Kimrey) in these circumstances. The Franks encouraged their daughters to look at the bright side of the situation.“You won’t have to practice piano or wear overshoes,” Parry Wilvers tells a wide-eyed Lily Kays.
Footage from World War II is shown in between scenes and Lily Kays’ voice, as Anne Frank, provides monologues as if she were reading aloud from the diary.While Anne Frank’s words are familiar among literature lovers, Kays brings the childlike innocence to life. For all of the sadness that surrounds this story, it is important to remember that she was 13 years old when the family first went into hiding. Her talkative, sometimes impatient nature, provides lighthearted, lovable moments in this show.
The sweetness of the relationship between Peter van Daan (Alec Gallazzi) and Anne Frank also is a highlight of this production. The constant bickering between Mr. van Daan (Jack Nauman) and Mrs. van Daan (Kathy Collier) is sometimes difficult to watch, but it seems to signify the frustration the eight people seemed to feel at the time.
Although it’s been more than 71 years since Anne Frank wrote her last entry in the journal, the message remains the same — “in spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart.”