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Review

The Diary of Anne Frank
by Desert Stages Theatre

THE SHOW:  

“For someone like me, it is a very strange habit to write in a diary. Not only that I have never written before, but it strikes me that later neither I, nor anyone else, will care for the outpouring of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl.”  

For two years they lived in hiding from the Nazis, careful not to make a sound during the day when employees worked below them. One noise, one cough, one slip could give them all away. And that would mean being taken to the concentration camps, of which they’d already begun hearing about the deaths and the gas used to kill so many of their friends. Written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett and further adapted by Wendy Kesselman, this show is a powerful stage adaptation of the diary kept by Anne Frank – a young teenage girl who in her fear found some solace in her writing, dreamt of being an author who would be useful and remembered after her death, and who, in spite of everything, managed to believe that people were really good at heart.  

THE PRODUCTION:  

The Desert Stages Actor’s Café staged this performance with adult actors and youth in the youth roles. It’s a perfect venue for the show – a small, intimate theater space with all sitting near the claustrophobic secret annex on the stage. Douglas Clarke’s set works very well with bare furnishings and mostly wood floors and walls. There’s a window on the second floor giving a glimpse of the sky, tops of building, and tree outside the annex. While the cast brings to life the people trapped inside the annex in co-directors Timothy Pittman and Virginia Olivieri’s compelling production.  

The adults include Mark Burkett as Anne’s father, doing a nice job trying to hold the group together and giving an emotional narration at the end. Donna Kaufman is her mother, giving some poignant moments as she deals with the frightening situation and with rejection from her youngest daughter. Markus Maes delivers a great performance, in spite of dealing with a cold, as Mr. Dussel the dentist dealing with his chatty young roommate. Virginia Olivieri pulls double-duty as co-director and as Miep, working well with Keaton Honaker as the two who provide their friends with their only contacts to the outside world. As Mrs. and Mr. Van Daan, Sharon Yormick and J. Kevin Tallent create an amazing moment as she tries to comfort him after he is caught stealing some of their rationed food in one of the more tense scenes of the night, well done by the entire cast.  

As their child Peter Van Daan, Tristin Wood is exceptionally natural and real throughout, from his initial awkwardness with Anne to that gradually giving way to a charming first date. Rebecca Wierman is terrific as Anne’s older, more reserved sister Margot, the fear haunting her much more often than it does her sister. And Rachel Redleaf stars as Anne, shining as she is in turn bubbly and bold, frightened or angry, facing both the challenges of being a teenager and the nightmarish challenges of being in hiding from the Nazis. The three teenagers together powerfully capture the complete relief and jubilation upon hearing of the Invasion of Normandy, as well as the shock and terror when the Nazi soldiers walk into their room.

Performed September 14 - October 20, 2013

Photos by Heather Butcher

Rob Hopper
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Executive Director
National Youth Arts

~ Cast ~
 

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Anne Frank: Rachel Redleaf
Otto Frank: Mark Burkett
Edith Frank: Donna Kaufman
Margot Frank: Rebecca Wierman
Miep Gies: Virginia Olivieri
Peter Van Daan: Tristin Wood
Mr. Kraler/Nazi: Keaton Honaker
Mrs. Van Daan: Sharon Yormick
Mr. Van Daan: J. Kevin Tallent
Mr. Dussel: Markus Maes
Nazi Captain: Mark Honaker
Nazi Trooper: Matthew Courtney

Directors: Timothy Pittman and Virginia Olivieri
Technical Director: Brent Coatney
Stage Manager: Mark Honaker
Set Design: Douglas Clarke
Lighting Design: Brent Coatney
Costume Designers: Mickey (Richard) & Rhea Courtney
Hair & Makeup: Virginia Olivieri
Props: Mitch Etter


   

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