Review: THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK at Open Stage

24th annual production is just as fresh as ever!

By: Mar. 19, 2024
Review: THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK at Open Stage
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Open Stage presents its 24th annual production of The Diary of Anne Frank beginning  March 19. 

Open Stage is very deliberate in targeting this show to local high schools, and they do an excellent job of conveying the show’s message, themes, and plot to an appreciative, but possibly inexperienced audience.

Areanna Hope Kroll is electric as Anne.  She has a dynamic personality, and makes her character friendly yet fierce.  Kroll’s Anne is the perfect example of the popular quote, “well behaved women rarely make history”.

Michael James Kacey plays a sympathetic Otto Frank, a man who anchors the whole show with bravery, patience, and hospitality.  Kacey’s final monologue was especially poignant.

Gerren Wagner and Leigh Anne Hoes round out the Frank family as mother, Edith and sister, Margot, respectively.  Although neither of these roles are as “angelic” or “obnoxious” as other characters, both actresses convey sincere grace and composure when faced with the chaos around them.  

Ted Hanson and Lisa Leone Dickerson play Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan.  While this couple is notorious for their gruff demeanor and selfishness, both actors conveyed a more genial approach to the script. While this made their characters more realistic, it sometimes diminished the intensity of conflict among the residence of the annex.

Ethan Hammel was an audience favorite as their son, Peter.  Many girls in the audience were swooning when he and Anne exchange an unexpected second act smooch.

Preston Scheffler plays the fussbudget dentist, Mr. Dussel.  I am sorry that his comical tooth-pulling scene was cut.  Dussel is a quirky character, and Scheffler finds humor in his demeanor as much as possible.

Tia Nichole and Matt Golden play Miep and Mr. Kraler, the two helpers who bring news, supplies, and hope to the annex.  Conversely, Phil Narsh, Ron Nason, and Ben Silva have the unenviable task of playing unnamed officers.  Each of these five actors contributed powerfully and uniquely to the events of this important true story.

Director, Stuart Landon keeps the action and blocking simple,  Actors sit in chairs on the side of the stage when not in a scene.  This simplicity and sparseness reflect the living conditions in the annex.

The lighting and sound effects were excellent.  Radio broadcasts, airplane bombings, sirens, and “unidentified things that go bump in the night” were as terrifying. I can’t imagine how exponentially scarier they would be for those who lived through it.

In conclusion, Open Stage has produced an show that is both relevant and entertaining.  It serves as a great theatrical introduction for first time audience members, but has a message of hope and love that can be enjoyed by everyone.