Yours, Anne
by J*Company

The unnerving mood is set immediately, as all the stage is dark except for a bright light beating down upon a lineup of European Jews. We hear the tinny but disturbing voice of Adolf Hitler over an old radio announcing increased restrictions on the Jewish population. Interspersed are the voices of the people on the stage, trying to comfort one another that things aren’t as bad as they seem, or warn them that things are far worse.

So begins this haunting musical adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank. Director Joey Landwehr has brought together an excellent young cast of strong voices and actors who get to the heart of this tragic but inspiring story set in secret rooms behind a bookshelf in an Amsterdam office building during World War II.

Anne Frank is played by Jennifer Bendelstein who charmingly portrays the playful, talkative, impatient, and flirty girl who slowly transforms into a mature young woman in her relationships and becomes philosophical about her terrifying situation and the beliefs she holds so dear no matter what happens. She also sings beautifully, often to her personified diary in the form of her “Dear Kitty” monologues.

Matt Maretz is a calming leader as head of the family Otto Frank, a man desperately trying to save his family, but knowing in many ways he is powerless to control their fates. He is also Anne’s steadfast rock and best friend. Abbi Hirschfeld is Anne’s quiet, kind, and intelligent sister Margot who Anne eventually learns to appreciate. Curtis Gordon is Peter Van Daan, the shy and awkward teenage son of the family living with the Franks, who struggles with the faith that he is being persecuted for in I’m Not A Jew, a song that becomes part of the bonding process as the relationship between Anne and Peter becomes a warm one. Other performances include Marisa Novak as Anne’s frightened mother, Brianna Oppenheimer as the vain Mrs. VanDaan, Kevin Patxi LeBras as Mr. VanDaan, and Ryan Luster as Dr. Friedrich Dussel.

They are joined by the rest of the cast in some of the most memorable scenes including the beautiful and melancholy I Remember, the singing of The First Chanukah Night that ends with the break-in that may have resulted in their eventual arrest, and the heartbreaking When We Are Free as Otto Frank says goodbye to his friends and family upon their arrest, telling us when and how each of them would meet their death. The moods and emotions of the show are further enhanced by good period clothing by Costume Designer Cindy Kinnard and Lighting Designer Andrew Miller’s sometimes subtle, sometimes stark, and always brilliant lighting effects.

Performed through December 10, 2006.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Anneliese Marie Frank: Jennifer Bendelstein
Peter VanDaan: Curtis Gordon
Margot Betti Frank: Abbi Hirschfeld
Hermann VanDaan: Kevin Patxi LeBras
Dr. Friedrich Dussel: Ryan Luster
Otto Heinrich Frank: Matt Maretz
Edith Hollander Frank: Marisa Novak
Auguste VanDaan: Brianna Oppenheimer
Ginger Rogers: Madeline Maio
Fred Astaire: Danny Stein

~ Ensemble ~
Ruth Harber: Kelsey Barnhill
Hannah Gosler: Alexa Bergman
Leah Kimmel: Daniela Federman
Rose Groves: Danielle Gardner
Danielle Yorish: Mara Jacobs
Editha Parler: Morgan Lebejko
Edzia Abbe: Madeline Maio
Sally Eisner: Cassidy McCombs
Eva Galler: Naomi McPherson
Alicia Jurman: Rebecca Myers
Otto Schlamme: Daniel Myers
Alicia Jurman: Meagan Phillips
Rebecca Moses: Danielle Smotrich
Levi Burstein: Danny Stein
Nicole Bernhardt: Ali Viterbi

Director: Joey Landwehr
Musical Director: Tim McKnight
Set Designer: Danielle Meister
Lighting Designer: Andrew Miller
Costume Designer: Cindy Kinnard
Sound Designer: Scott Westrick
Stage Manager: Robin Raskin


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