FIRST LOOK: The Star of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK Shares Her Personal Ties to Anne Frank
On February 15, 2014, the story of Anne Frank and her two-year ordeal hiding with her family during the German occupation of the Netherlands comes to Hollywood's Cupcake Theater. Starring Sigi Gradwohl, a third-generation Holocaust survivor, as Anne Frank, THE DIARY OF Anne Frank is a story of life, not death, and a depiction of raw, daily survival during the Holocaust. Told with wit and sentiment, this production is sure to hit home with a truth that still resonates today.
In addition to the traditional theater experience, select Sunday matinee performances will be followed by talkbacks with Holocaust survivors. The interactive sessions between the survivors, cast members, and audience members will be moderated by Sigi Gradwohl, for whom the Holocaust connection is close and personal. Gradwohl's grandfather was a primary school classmate of Anne's, but was able to escape Amsterdam thanks to his father's Swiss passport; her grandmother escaped Germany as a child on one of the final Kindertransports to London. As less and less survivors remain today to tell their first-hand experience, this combined program of theater and talkback sessions is aimed at keeping the story of the Holocaust alive and providing a platform for further education.
THE DIARY OF Anne Frank, written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett; Newly Adapted by Wendy Kesselman; Directed by Sabrina Lloyd; Produced by Caity Engler, Sigi Gradwohl, and Year Eight Productions; Starring Alejandra Bursik-Cervantes, Becca Leigh Gellman, Robert Gibbons, Sigi Gradwohl, Sabrina Hill, Frank Krueger, Max Lichtig, Maria Mastroyannis, Neil Miller, Robert Paterno, Brynn Sillyman, Terry Tocantins, is performed with the permission of Dramatists Play Service Inc.
For more information on the production, Sigi Gradwohl's story, and to support the show's efforts via donation, pre-purchased tickets and advertising opportunities, visit www.igg.me/at/annefrankcupcake. Tickets also available at www.cupcaketheater.com.
Sigi Gradwohl and Her Family's Connection to Anne Frank At our first cast read-through, one of our cast members said to Sigi, "Wow, you really look like Anne!" Sigi shares many similarities with Anne; she's talkative, the youngest in the family, impatient, creative, feisty, the girl everyone knows, and has a shared disinterest in math.
But it is her family's connection to Anne Frank that really drove her desire to play this role. Most closely connected, Sigi's grandfather, Peter Neuhaus, was in Anne's class (see photo below). For much of her life, Sigi's connection to Anne was simply a stated fact.
Over the past few years, Sigi's older sister Nirit Gradwohl Pisano, a psychologist who specializes in the intergenerational transmission of trauma, started delving into the trauma inherited by the third generation of the Holocaust. Nirit's work inspired Sigi to begin contemplating the effects on her own life as a third generation survivor. Were it not for the luck of her grandfather's father having a Swiss passport, and her grandmother escaping Germany on one of the last Kindertransports to England, her family's fate could have been the same as that of the Franks. Sigi began to comprehend why she so strongly relates to the material.
Anne Frank's class at Montessori Primary School in Amsterdam. She can be seen standing in the back right wearing white, next to her teacher. Sigi Gradwohl plays Anne Frank in this production, and her grandfather, Peter, is seated in the middle of the classroom, grinning.