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THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK Comes to People's Light


In a cramped, secret Amsterdam annex, alongside seven other refugees, a Jewish girl hides from the Nazis. In the midst of this nightmare scenario, Anne Frank channels her lively intelligence into a diary that resonates decades after her death. Wendy Kesselman's adaptation captures the immediacy of Anne's unique voice, and the courage and terror of a life evading Hitler's genocide of the Jews. Our production, featuring a multi-racial cast directed by David Bradley, honors this "undeniably moving" (The New York Times) story as it speaks to today's increasingly nationalistic world. The Diary of Anne Frank plays from February 21 - March 31, 2018 on the Leonard C. Haas Stage in Malvern.

Director Bradley says, "The Diary of Anne Frank feels especially important and powerful right now, at a time when our community, nation, and world wrestle with anti-Semitism, racism, and oppression. This story of eight Jews hiding from the Nazis shows the terrible consequences when one group of people sets out to oppress and annihilate another, only because of who they are. It centers on what makes us human-family, love, passion, endurance, heartbreak, imagination, and creativity-and what's lost when someone squelches that humanity.

"Theatre is rooted in the belief that empathy-the ability to understand another's story-is essential to living," continues Bradley, whose preparation for the production included trips to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam (where Anne and the other seven hid), and to Israel. "Our production, with a multi-racial cast, embraces that value. This group of artists reflects the diversity of our community today. We're stepping into this story, set in a different time, place and culture, to build bridges towards greater understanding.

"We offer this production as a call for empathy, and a call to remember, listen, understand, and act."

Producing Director Zak Berkman says, "At its essence, The Diary of Anne Frank is a celebration of the creative mind. A young Jewish refugee, forced into hiding, makes a universe with words-constellations of memories, questions, wishes, and emotions-that inspires millions. Her creation reminds us that we can shape the world inside us, and that we must shape the world around us.

"We hope our production embodies Anne's bold, innovative spirit, and wakes up the world-maker in us all."

The cast features a mix of newcomers, returning guests, and company members. Actors making their People's Light debut include Brittany Anikka Liu as Anne, Caroline Strang as her sister Margot, Mark David Kaplan as their father Otto Frank, Deborah Green as their mother Edith Frank, Tyler S. Elliott as Peter van Daan, Danielle Leneé as Miep Gies, and John Zak as Mr. Kraler. First-timers Jeff Gorcyca and Jacob Schrimpf play the Second and Third Man, and Associate Artistic Director Pete Pryor (Morning's at Seven, The Harassment of Iris Malloy) plays the First Man. Company members Melanye Finister (The Matchmaker, All My Sons) and Christopher Patrick Mullen (Aladdin: A Musical Panto, Moon Over Buffalo) play Mrs. van Daan and Alfred Dussel, and frequent guest Brian Anthony Wilson (All My Sons, Fences) plays Mr. van Daan.

Resident artist David Bradley (Row After Row, This Wonderful Life) directs. Returning guest Luke Cantarella (Morning's At Seven, Row After Row) designs the set, and Devon Painter (Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer) creates costumes. Fabian Obispo (Barcelona, Stargirl) comes back to People's Light to design sound. Long-time company member Kate McSorley Fossner stage manages, and newcomer Alix Rosenfeld serves as Production Dramaturg.


Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett Playwrights
Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett were born in 1891 and 1900, respectively. Frances came from a well-to-do family in New Jersey, and Albert was born into a family of New York City artists. Though they came from different backgrounds, they were both drawn to the world of theatre and began their artistic careers as actors. They found moderate success in the field of acting, but Albert and Frances desired to move their careers in different directions. So, they began to write for the stage. It was during their first collaboration, the popular Broadway hit Up Pops the Devil, that the pair got married (Frances's third marriage!), solidifying their lifelong artistic partnership. They caught the eye of MGM Studios after triumphing on Broadway, and they moved from writing for the theatre to writing for television and film, including contributions to It's a Wonderful Life. Frances and Albert demonstrated a particular deftness at writing adaptations, such as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, so producers approached them (after a prodding by playwright Lillian Hellman) when they were searching for writers to create a dramatized version of The Diary of a Young Girl. Two years and eight revisions later, The Diary of Anne Frank premiered on Broadway in 1955, garnering the 1956 Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. They would go on to adapt their own play into a film in 1959. Frances and Albert's final collaboration was the film adaptation of Peter Shaffer's play, Five Finger Exercise, which premiered in 1962. The two remained married until Frances's death in 1984.

Wendy Kesselman Adapter
Wendy's new adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank, produced on Broadway, received a Tony nomination. Her plays include My Sister in This House, The Executioner's Daughter, The Notebook, The Foggy Foggy Dew, The Last Bridge, Maggie Magalita, The Shell Collection, Merry-Go-Round, The Graduation of Grace, Spit and My Sister in This House, A Re-imagined Version (for Deaf West Theatre). She has written the book, music and lyrics for The Juniper Tree, A Tragic Household Tale, Becca, A Musical, and Madame Defarge, inspired by Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. She received the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the AT&T Onstage Award, New England Theatre Major Award, Playbill Award, Roger Stevens Award, Lecomte de Noüy Award, Meet the Composer Grant, and Guggenheim, McKnight and NEA Fellowships. Her screenplays include Sister My Sister, I Love You, I Love You Not (adapted from her play of the same name) and Mad or in Love for Fox 2000. She won a WGA award for her adaptation of A Separate Peace. The CD of her chamber musical The Black Monk (book, music and lyrics) will be released in 2018.

David Bradley Director
Company Member since 1991. People's Light: Directed more than 30 productions, including Row After Row, Of Mice and Men, Tom Sawyer, The Crucible, The Giver, A View From the Bridge, He Held Me Grand, ...Young Lady From Rwanda, Treasure Island. Theatre Includes: A Fierce Kind of Love (Temple's Institute on Disabilities); Red Herring, Mauritius, According to Goldman, Unnecessary Farce (Act II Playhouse); The Exonerated (Delaware Theatre Company); Noises Off, The Miracle Worker, Holes, Iron Kisses, This Wonderful Life, Searching for Eden (Indiana Rep); Voices of Voting (Committee of Seventy, writer/director); Artistic Director, Living News and Co-Artistic Director Fighting for Democracy (National Constitution Center); The Lost Hour at PIFA 2013 (Philadelphia Young Playwrights). David is Founding Director of the music non-profit LiveConnections, which inspires learning and builds community through collaborative music-making. He is the recipient of a 2017 Brighter Futures Award from the City of Philadelphia Intellectual Disabilities Services for his work in accessibility in the arts. He teaches at Arcadia University and is a graduate of Yale University. Website:

Tyler S. Elliott Peter van Daan
People's Light debut. Theatre Includes: Recently, Juniper Productions' inaugural Fringe Show #CocktailPlays, Asher in Asher Lev (South Camden Theater Company), and Kurogo in You For Me For You (InterAct Theater Company). Past credits include First They Came (PYP and Found Theater Company), Konstantin in The Seagull (Swarthmore Theater), and Nas in Mercury Fur (Brainspunk Theater Company). He will be appearing as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet (Lantern Theater Company) later this Spring.

Melanye Finister Mrs. van Daan
Company Member since 1991. People's Light: Project Dawn, The Matchmaker, All My Sons, Fences, The Winter's Tale, Seven Guitars, The Return of Don Quixote, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Something You Did, Fabulation, and The Member of the Wedding. Theatre Includes: Wilma Theater, Arden Theatre Company, Flashpoint Theatre Company, InterAct Theatre Company, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Venture Theatre, Temple Theaters and Walnut Street Theatre. Training: BFA, Carnegie Mellon University. Melanye is an artist and resident company member at People's Light, a member of Wilma Hothouse, and a board member at PlayPenn.

Jeff Gorcyca Second Man
People's Light debut. Theatre Includes: Madeline's Christmas (Theatre Row), Waiting for Lefty (Nuance Theatre), Movin' on Up (NYC Fringe), Two Rooms (Agnes Performing Arts Center). Regional Theatre: The Tale of the Allergist's Wife (Cape May Stage), 1776 (Milburn Stone Theatre), Spring Awakening (Milburn Stone Theatre), Bye Bye Birdie! (Wilmington Drama League). Training: MFA in acting from Actors Studio Drama School. Website:, @jeff_gorcyca

Deborah Green Edith Frank
People's Light debut. Her latest film, Steven Spielberg's The Post, opposite Meryl Streep and also starring Tom Hanks, opened 1/12/18. Theatre Includes: Off Broadway: Miss Whitehouse, Hot Bubbles (Original John Patrick Shanley play), Bird in the Hand and Crossing America (New York Theatre Workshop), Five Women Wearing the Same Dress (CBU Players). Film/Television Includes: lead roles in episodes of Momsters, A Crime to Remember and I, Witness; Serene in Desperate Endeavors; Guest Star role on Wall Street English. Special thanks to her "Dream Team", Susan Campochiaro Confrey of CBU Management Inc. and JC William Agency, Inc. ( for their unwavering love and support throughout the years.

Mark David Kaplan Otto Frank
People's Light debut. Theatre Includes: The Mystery of Love and Sex (Writer's Theatre), Frankenstein (Cardinal Stage), Mary Zimmerman's Wonderful Town (Goodman Theatre), Uncle Vanya (ELT), Animal Crackers (Skylight), Little Shop of Horrors (American Blues), Hairspray (Syracuse Stage), Amadeus (Indiana Rep), We Three Lizas (About Face Theatre), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (James Lapine, dir./Chicago), Man of La Mancha (Montana Shakespeare in the Parks), and countless premieres with Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Mark played Zazu for 5 years on the National Tour of The Lion King. He is the recipient of three Joseph Jefferson Awards for his work in Ragtime, Les Misérables (Drury Lane) and Forbidden Broadway (Royal George), the latter with which he has toured internationally and performed Off-Broadway.

Danielle Leneé Miep Gies
People's Light debut. Theatre Includes: Off Broadway: White Guy on a Bus (59E59ST Theatre). Regional Credits: As You Like It, Pericles, Comedy of Errors (Delaware Shakespeare), White Guy on a Bus (Delaware Theatre Company & Passage Theatre; Barrymore Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress), A Knee That Can Bend (Orbiter 3; Barrymore Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress), Milk Like Sugar (Simpatico Theatre Company), Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (Syracuse Stage). Training: Graduate of Syracuse University BFA Acting program. Website: @daniellelenee on Instagram.

Brittany Anikka Liu Anne Frank
People's Light debut. Theatre Includes: Romeo & Juliet, All's Well That Ends Well, Antony & Cleopatra, Julius Caesar (Virginia Shakespeare Festival), Airborne and Late Night Cabaret (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Tranquil (Luna Stages), Rapture, Blister, Burn and Buffalo Heights (TIC Theatre). Film/Television Includes: The Christmas Experience, Fenced Off. Training: BA, BBA, College of William & Mary.

Christopher Patrick Mullen Mr. Dussel
Company Member since 2005. People's Light: Aladdin, Moon Over Buffalo, Richard III, Arthur and the Tale of the Red Dragon, Cinderella, The Winter's Tale, Mr. Hart & Mr. Brown, The Emperor's New Clothes, Gossamer, King Lear, Crispin: The Cross Of Lead, Getting Near To Baby, Robinhood, Twelfth Night, Splittin The Raft, Jack & The Beanstalk, The Crucible, Fabulation, The Miser, Sleeping Beauty, Julius Caesar, The Adventures Of Pinocchio, Crow and Weasel, Hush: An Interview With America, The Tempest, Wind In The Willows. Theatre Includes: West Side Story (1st National Tour); The Runner Stumbles (Off-Broadway revival); The Whaleship Essex (Vineyard Playhouse); When You Comin Back, Red Ryder? (Retro Productions); Metamorphoses, Macbeth, A Little Night Music, Candide, Assassins, and The Stinky Cheeseman (Arden Theatre); 26 productions with The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival including Love's Labour's Lost, Pericles, Henry VIII, Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker, Charley's Aunt, Hamlet, The Glass Menagerie, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, and Macbeth; Amadeus (Hedgerow Theatre); The Pavilion (Chester Theatre Co); The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (abridged), A Midsummer Night's Dream, Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew (Orlando Shakespeare Theatre). Film/Television Includes: Law & Order. Training: DeSales University.

Pete Pryor First Man
Associate Artistic Director and Company Member since 2010. People's Light: Director: Aladdin*, Moon Over Buffalo, Sleeping Beauty*, The Three Musketeers (The Later Years), Stella and Lou, Arthur and the Tale of the Red Dragon*, Bach at Leipzig, Cinderella, Noises Off, Mr. Hart & Mr. Brown, Treasure Island (*co-author). Actor: Morning's at Seven, The Matchmaker, The Harassment of Iris Malloy, Richard III, The Three Musketeers (The Later Years), Biloxi Blues, The Cherry Orchard, Pride and Prejudice, The Rainmaker, The Winter's Tale, Of Mice and Men, Treasure Island, A Wrinkle in Time. Pete has directed the last nine holiday pantos. His play Beautiful Boy was produced at People's Light in 2012. Theatre Includes: Wilma Theater, The Arden Theatre, Act II Playhouse, The Philadelphia Theatre Co, Theatre Exile, Azuka, 1812 Productions, Montgomery Theatre, PA Shakespeare, Delaware Theatre Co, Cape May Stage, The Boarshead, and Pittsburgh City Theatre. Co-founder and former Producing Artistic Director of 1812 Productions. Resident artist/drama instructor at the Pathway School since 2005. Pete is a Lunt-Fontanne fellow and Independence Fellowship Artist and winner of four Barrymore Awards. Film/Television Includes: Limitless, Lebanon Pa, Cellar, Backwards, Mayor Cupcake, Seduction of the Will, Hack, The In Crowd, NBFS, Surrender Dorothy.

Jacob Schrimpf Third Man
People's Light debut. Theatre Includes: Beauty and the Beast (Media Theatre), Junie B. Jones and Garfield: The Musical with Cattitude (Walnut Street Theatre), Oliver! (Palace Theatre), Mary Poppins (Ocean City Theatre Company), Damn Yankees (Scranton Shakespeare Festival), Michigan Shakespeare Festival, Door Shakespeare, Texas Shakespeare Festival, and Notre Dame Shakespeare. Training: BA in Film, Television & Theatre from University of Notre Dame; Walnut Street Theatre '16-'17 Acting Apprenticeship. Website:

Caroline Strang Margot Frank
People's Light debut. Theatre Includes: Maureen in The Bluest Eye (Guthrie Theatre), Miranda in The Tempest (Playmakers Repertory Company), Iris/Hunger in Metamorphoses, Cinderella in Into The Woods, Actor 4 in We Are Proud To Present..., Featured Soloist in Private Lives, Sweeney Todd, Belle in Beauty and the Beast (Red House Arts), Agnes in I Do, I Do!, Jo in The Legend Of Georgia McBride (Hippodrome Theatre). Training: MFA, UNC-Chapel Hill Professional Actor Training Program.

Brian Anthony Wilson Mr. van Daan
People's Light: All My Sons, Fences, Seven Guitars, Nathan the Wise, Eggs, Les Trois Dumas. Theatre Includes: Thurgood (Olney Theatre Center), Fences (Woodstock Theatre, VT), The Last Jimmy (Adrienne Arsht Center, Miami), Titus Andronicus (Rowan University). Film/Television Includes: Ocean's 8, Creed, How to Get Girls, Title VII, Crooked and Narrow, Limitless, 6 Souls, Jersey Justice, Keeping the Faith, The Postman / Siren, Dietland, Bull, Bloodline, Gotham, The Jim Gaffigan Show, Blue Bloods, Broad City, Unforgettable, Law & Order SVU, The Sopranos, and The Wire.

John Zak Mr. Kraler
People's Light debut. John has been a professional actor and voice-over artist in the Philadelphia area for over 20 years. Theatre Includes: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (Delaware Theatre Company), Michael in The Pillowman (Luna Theatre), Around the World in 80 Days (Walnut Street Theatre), House of Blue Leaves (Isis Productions), My Wonderful Day (Wilma Theater), Amadeus (Walnut Street Theatre), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre), Jihad Jones & the Kalashnikov Babes (InterAct Theatre), The Life of Galileo (Wilma Theater), Red, White & Tuna (Walnut Street Theatre), The European Lesson, Jo Stromgren Kompani (Philadelphia Live Arts/Norway tour). He received the Barrymore Award of Best Supporting Actor for his role as Caliban in The Tempest (Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre).



In line with the inclusive vision of this production, People's Light strives to welcome and enable as many patrons as possible to fully experience and engage with The Diary of Anne Frank.

Audio-description technology will be available for all Saturday 2pm performances, provided by Nicole Sardella of Art-Reach.

Open Captioning will be expanded to accompany every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday performance, in partnership with the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, the Chester County Chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America, and the Lower Merion Players. At these performances, an LED screen near the stage displays the actors' lines simultaneously with the action of the play, to assist patrons with hearing impairments, as well as those who are learning English.

Service animals are welcome at all performances at People's Light. The theatre offers a designated relief area for their comfort. Prior to the 2pm performance on Saturday, March 31, Canine Partners for Life will host a demonstration of their work training service animals, beginning at 1pm.


Join the cast for AfterWORDS, informal post-performance discussions after Thursday evening performances (March 1, March 8, March 15, and March 29).

For history and context behind the production, join us for Scoop on Wednesdays. These lively conversations with Production Dramaturg Alix Rosenfeld provide the inside scoop about the rehearsal process, design choices, and world of the play. The program begins at 6pm in the Leonard C. Haas lobby on February 28, March 21, and March 28. Price of $5 includes light fare. Call the Box Office at 610.644.3500 to purchase.

Sunday Panels & Conversations will be offered throughout the performance run. Following the 2pm performances on February 25 and March 11, small group conversations will be facilitated by community partners in the upper Leonard C. Haas Lobby. On March 4 (4:30pm), 18 (4:30pm), and 25 (5pm), panels of community leaders will lead discussions on relevant themes: Adolescence, Trauma, & Resilience; Identity & Tradition; and Anne Frank: Why Now? We are thrilled to welcome a variety of distinguished guests to take part in these conversations, including:

Lisa Hoffstein, Executive Director of the Anne Frank Center of Mutual Respect
Rebecca A. Tavangar, Psychotherapist, Trauma Counselor; Greater Phoenixville ACEs Committee Member
Cathryn Miller-Wilson, Esquire, Executive Director of Hebrew International Aid Society Pennsylvania (HIAS)
Rabbi Tiferet Berenbaum, Temple Har Zion in Mt. Holly, NJ
Rabbi Peter Rigler, Temple Sholom in Broomall, PA
And many others to be announced.

Stay tuned for more information, special events, and blog posts at our new website:


Enjoy prix fixe Dinner & A Show packages at the Farmhouse Bistro prior to select Wednesday through Sunday performances. Pay $81 for a Wednesday evening, Thursday evening, Saturday matinee, or Sunday evening package, or $85 for a Friday evening, Saturday evening, or Sunday matinee package. That's a savings of up to 15% off the single ticket price. Call the Box Office at 610.644.3500.

Located next to the Bistro is a full-service catering venue, The Farmhouse at People's Light, perfect for weddings, corporate events, and special celebrations. Contact the Farmhouse Sales Team at 610.647.1631 x156 or


The Diary of Anne Frank previews begin on Wednesday, February 21 at 7:30pm and run through Friday, February 23. The play opens on Saturday, February 24 at 8pm and runs through Saturday, March 31.

Standard single tickets start at $39. For tickets, call the Box Office at 610.644.3500. Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For more information or to purchase group tickets, call 610.647.1900 x111 or email

$29 Community Night tickets are available for the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday preview performances on February 21, 22, and 23 at 7:30pm.

Pick Subscriptions and People's Passes are flexible and affordable ways to see multiple plays. Choose 3, 4, or 5 productions, and enjoy savings as well as many of our full subscriber benefits. Or, purchase a set of 6 People's Passes, redeemable for any production of the season, in any combination. Remaining 2017-18 productions include The Diary of Anne Frank (February 21 - March 31, 2018), I Will Not Go Gently (March 21 - April 15, 2018), Romeo and Juliet: A Requiem (April 25 - May 27, 2018), Skeleton Crew (June 13 - July 8, 2018), and Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie (August 1 - 26, 2018). Pick Subscriptions start at $102 and a set of People's Passes starts at $222. Visit or call 610-644-3500 to order.

Actors, prices, productions, performance dates and times are subject to change. Additional service charges will apply. Contact the Box Office for more details.


Now in its 43rd season, People's Light, a professional, not-for-profit theatre in Chester County, Pennsylvania, makes plays drawn from many sources to entertain, inspire, and engage our community. We extend our mission of making and experiencing theatre through arts education programs that excite curiosity about, and deepen understanding of, the world around us. These plays and programs bring people together and provide opportunities for reflection, discovery, and celebration. Founded in 1974, we produce eight to nine plays each season, in two black box theatres with 340 and 160 seats respectively, mixing world premieres, contemporary plays, and fresh approaches to classic texts. Through two new play initiatives, New Play Frontiers and The Harmony Labs, People's Light currently has nine active play commissions. Of our 436 productions, over a third (166) have been world or regional premieres.

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