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Writers Theatre to Present THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, 2/24-6/28

Writers Theatre presents The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, adapted by Wendy Kesselman and directed by Kimberly Senior. The show runs February 24 - June 28, 2015 at Books on Vernon, 664 Vernon Avenue, Glencoe. The Press Openings are Wednesday, March 4, and Thursday, March 5, 2015.

Thirteen actors share the intimate Writers Theatre bookstore space in this powerful and authentic portrait of a young girl clinging to hope in a time of tragedy.

As vital today as when it was first written, Anne Frank's extraordinary diary has become an essential part of how we remember one of the darkest periods of human history. Filled with its young author's luminous spirit - her "boundless desire for all that is beautiful and good" - the diary also illuminates the coming of age of a complex, passionate young girl as she falls in love, grows into a woman and struggles to survive with her family amid the chaos of war and religious persecution.

Directed by Kimberly Senior, the Writers Theatre production will provide a visceral insight into the realities of life in the "secret annex," in which the tight quarters and forced intimacy serve as an ever-present reminder of the danger just outside--allowing audiences to come to know Anne and her family in a new and strikingly honest way.

"There are so many reasons why a production of this play in the bookstore theatre has been a passion project, and the timing couldn't be more perfect. Not the least reason was our director, Kimberly Senior, who has a very clear vision for the play, along with the remarkable cast and design team she has assembled," says Artistic Director Michael Halberstam. "We have always chosen plays in the bookstore on the basis of the venue's power to heighten the experience of the text. There can be no doubt that living inside the Franks' apartment along with them will add a degree of artistic authenticity. This authenticity is important because as the last generations of survivors fade into the eternal, we must keep the stories alive in our collective consciousness. My own grandmother was murdered by the Nazis in a Czechoslovakian labor camp, which makes this imperative highly personal. As we transition from the bookstore to our new theatre center, this production is a visceral and powerful way to highlight the power of a venue that has served us so effectively for twenty-three seasons."

The cast of The Diary of Anne Frank includes Lance Baker (Mr. van Daan), Sean Fortunato (Otto Frank), Coburn Goss (Mr. Kraler), Kevin Gudahl (Mr. Dussel), Sam Hubbard (Nazi), Leah Karpel (Miep Gies), Heidi Kettenring (Mrs. van Daan), Lila Morse (Margot Frank), Eric Slater (Nazi), James Sparling (Nazi), Sophie Thatcher (Anne Frank), Kristina Valada-Viars (Edith Frank) and Antonio Zhiurinskas (Peter van Daan).

The designers are Jack Magaw (Scenic Designer), Nan Zabriskie (Costume Designer), Sarah Hughey (Lighting Designer), Josh Schmidt (Sound Designer), Nick Heggestad (Properties Designer) and David Woolley (Fight Choreographer). The Stage Manager is David Castellanos.

Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett (Playwrights) began their enormously successful and remarkably prolific collaboration in 1928, a partnership that lasted 34 years. The privileged daughter of well-to-do parents, Frances Goodrich attended Vassar before beginning her career as an actress, first appearing on Broadway in 1916. By the time she met fellow actor Albert Hackett in the late 1920s she had already been divorced twice. Nine years the junior of his wife, Albert Hackett was the son of stage star Florence Hackett and brother of matinee idol Raymond Hackett. Like Goodrich, Hackett met with modest success as an actor, and their initial collaboration arose as a result of their mutual desire to leave acting in favor of playwriting. The two were married while collaborating on their first Broadway hit, Up Pops the Devil. Their success on Broadway eventually led to the pair being signed as a writing team by MGM, where they launched the popular Thin Man series. While there would be another Broadway production on the Goodrich/Hackett docket in the 1940s, The Great Big Doorstep, for the most part the couple devoted their time to screen writing. Writing the stage version of The Diary of Anne Frank was the achievement of which both Goodrich and Hackett were most proud. The original Broadway production received the 1956 Tony Award for Best Play, and the script received the 1956 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Goodrich and Hackett also adapted the play for the screen in 1959. Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett remained married until her death in 1984. Albert Hackett passed away in 1995.

Wendy Kesselman (Adaptor) received a Tony Award nomination for her adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank, which was produced on Broadway in 1997. Her plays include My Sister in this House; The Notebook; The Last Bridge; I Love You, I Love You Not; The Executioner's Daughter; The Juniper Tree, A Tragic Household Tale; Maggie Magalita; Merry-Go-Round; Becca, A Musical; a musical adaptation of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities; and a musical adaptation of Chekhov's The Black Monk. A member of the Dramatists Guild, she is the recipient of the New England Theatre Conference Major Award for outstanding creative achievement in the American theatre, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the first annual Playbill Award, the Roger L. Stevens Award, the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award, the Lecomte du Noüy Annual Award, and a Guggenheim, McKnight, and two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships. She is also a seven-time winner of the ASCAP Popular Award in Musical Theatre. Ms. Kesselman's screenplays include Sister My Sister (adapted from My Sister in the House); I Love You, I Love You Not (adapted from her play of the same name); and Mad or In Love for Fox 2000. Her screen adaptation of John Knowles' A Separate Peace, directed by Peter Yates, aired on Showtime, won a Writers Guild of America award, and was nominated for an Emmy.

Kimberly Senior (Director) returns to Writers Theatre where she previously directed Hedda Gabler and The Letters. Senior made her Broadway directorial debut with Disgraced following its transfer from Lincoln Center Theater. Chicago credits include Rapture, Blister, Burn (Goodman Theatre); 4000 Miles, The Whipping Man (Northlight Theatre); Want, The North Plan (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); My Name is Asher Lev, All My Sons and Dolly West's Kitchen (TimeLine Theatre Company); The Great God Pan, After the Revolution, Madagascar, The Overwhelming (Next Theatre); The Cripple of Inishmaan, Bug, The Pillowman (Redtwist Theatre); Disgraced (American Theater Company); Waiting for Lefty (American Blues Theater); Old Times, Uncle Vanya, Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters (Strawdog Theatre Company); Thieves Like Us (House Theatre), among others. New York and Regional credits include Disgraced (Lincoln Center Theater 3), The Who and The What (La Jolla Playhouse, Lincoln Center Theater 3), Little Gem (City Theatre), Murder on the Nile, A Few Good Men (Peninsula Players Theatre), Mauritius (Theatre Squared). Senior is the Founder of Collaboraction, a Resident Director at Writers Theatre, and an Associate Artist at TimeLine Theatre Company. Senior was named the 2012 Best Director in Chicago by Chicago Magazine. She has been nominated for several Joseph Jefferson Awards and Citations and is the recipient of the 2010 Excellence in Teaching Award from Columbia College. Senior lives in Evanston with her husband, scenic designer Jack Magaw, and her two children, Noah and Delaney, and is a proud member of SDC. kimberlysenior.net

Lance Baker (Mr. van Daan) makes his Writers Theatre debut in The Diary of Anne Frank. Chicago credits include Thom Pain (based on nothing) (Theater Wit); King Lear, Henry VIII and Amadeus (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Invisible Man and Travesties (Court Theatre); The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs (16th Street Theater); Becky Shaw and Hunger and Thirst (A Red Orchid Theatre); Doubt and Speed the Plow (American Theater Company); Mauritius and Lady (Northlight Theatre); A Steady Rain (Chicago Dramatists); Dollhouse and Lobby Hero (Goodman Theatre); Up Against It (Lookingglass Theatre); This is Our Youth and Dealer's Choice (Roadworks Productions); Mad Forest (Remains Theatre). Regional credits include Around the World in 80 Days (Lookingglass Theatre/Kansas City Repertory); Fanny Brice: The Real Funny Girl (Asolo Repertory Theatre/Maltz Jupiter Theatre); Sleuth and The Fox on the Fairway (Theatre at the Center); and Ecstasy (Odyssey Theatre). He has received one Joseph Jefferson Award and one After Dark Award. He was the director for The Earl and co-director of A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant, both at A Red Orchid Theatre, where he is an ensemble member. He has a B.F.A. in Acting from the Theatre School of DePaul University. Lancebakeractor.wordpress.com

Sean Fortunato (Otto Frank) returns to Writers Theatre after appearing in Hedda Gabler, The Real Thing, Travels with My Aunt, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, The Chosen, Rough Crossing, A Phoenix Too Frequent, Spite for Spite, Incident at Vichy, and Richard II. Credits include Pericles, Cyrano de Bergerac, School for Lies, Sunday in the Park with George, and Timon of Athens (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Rene Gallimard in M. Butterfly (Court Theatre); Measure for Measure (Goodman Theatre); Detective Cioffi in Curtains (Drury Lane Theatre), and work at TimeLine Theatre Company, Marriott Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Theatre at the Center, About Face Theatre, Intiman Theatre, WA, The Old Globe, CA, The Duke on 42nd, NY, and eleven seasons with Peninsula Players, WI, where he recently played Lady Enid, et al. in The Mystery of Irma Vep, and George in Sunday in the Park with George. Film/TV credits include The Merry Gentleman directed by Michael Keaton and Chicago PD. Sean has received four Joseph Jefferson nominations and an After Dark Award.

Coburn Goss (Mr. Kraler) returns to Writers Theatre where he previously appeared in The Seagull. Chicago credits include Freud's Last Session (CRC Productions at the Mercury Theater), Fake, Dead Man's Cell Phone, The Royal Family, Absolution (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), The Crowd You're in With, Vigils (Goodman Theatre), Shining City, A Whistle in the Dark (Irish Theatre of Chicago, also founding member), Luce and Dying City (Next Theatre). Regional/Off Broadway credits include When the Messenger Is Hot (Steppenwolf at 59E59), The Last True Believer (Seattle Repertory Theatre), Irish Crazy Jane, The Good Times Are Killing Me (Arkansas Repertory Theatre). Television credits include Mind Games (ABC), Chicago Fire (NBC), Chicago Code (FOX), Boss (Starz), E/R (NBC), Prison Break (Fox) and Reconstruction (NBC, series regular). Film credits include What Women Want, The Lucky Ones, Shelter, Joshua and Man of Steel. He is the author of Marked Tree, winner of the American Theatre Critics Association's Osborn Award.

Kevin Gudahl (Mr. Dussel) returns to Writers Theatre having performed in She Loves Me, A Minister's Wife, The Doctor's Dilemma and Othello. Chicago credits include over forty productions with Chicago Shakespeare Theater including Elizabeth Rex, Pericles, and the title roles in Macbeth and Antony & Cleopatra. Additional Chicago credits include shows at Goodman Theatre, Court Theatre, Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire, Northlight Theatre, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Victory Gardens Theater, and Drury Lane Theatre. International credits include Pacific Overtures (Donmar Warehouse in London), Henry IV (Swan Theatre for the Royal Shakespeare Company); and five seasons with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada. Film credits include While You Were Sleeping, Home Alone III, and Poker House. Television credits include Crisis (NBC), Chicago Fire (NBC), Boss (Starz), Chicago Code (Fox), and Early Edition (CBS). Kevin is a recipient of Chicago's Joseph Jefferson Award, teaches Shakespeare when possible and is blessed with the love and support of his wife Alyson and their son Nathaniel.

Sam Hubbard (Nazi) makes his Writers Theatre debut in The Diary of Anne Frank. Chicago credits include Playboy of the Western World, Brighton Beach Memoirs (Raven Theatre), Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom (Strawdog Theatre Company), The Gray Girl (Factory Theater), My Name is Mudd (Jackalope Theatre Company), King Henry IV, Henry V (Oak Park Festival Theatre) and various understudy credits for Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Northlight Theatre. Regional credits include Hamlet and Cymbeline (Michigan Shakespeare Festival). Violence design credits include productions for Strawdog Theatre Company, Steppenwolf for Young Adults (assistant), American Blues Theater, Jackalope Theatre Company and Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co. Sam is a proud Strawdog Ensemble Member and graduate of Columbia College Chicago.

Leah Karpel (Miep Gies) makes her Writers Theatre debut in The Diary of Anne Frank. Chicago credits include Buena Vista, The Glass Menagerie, The Hot L Baltimore (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Appropriate, The Whale, We Are Proud to Present... (Victory Gardens Theater); Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom (Strawdog Theatre Company); and Punk Rock (Griffin Theatre). Regional credits include Pocatello (Playwrights Horizons); 4000 Miles (Long Wharf Theatre); Ten Chimneys (Milwaukee Repertory Theater); Half and Half (Penguin Rep Theatre); The Play about My Dad (CollaborationTown); and Evanston: A Rare Comedy (HERE Arts/PS 122). Leah received her B.F.A. from Boston University and is a graduate of The School at Steppenwolf.

Heidi Kettenring (Mrs. van Daan) returns to Writers Theatre where she previously appeared in She Loves Me. Chicago credits include Wicked (Broadway in Chicago), The King and I, Cats, Hero (Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire), The Merry Wives of Windsor, The School for Lies, Sunday in the Park with George (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Oliver (Drury Lane Theatre), as well as work with Chicago Commercial Collective, Court Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Theatre at the Center, Drury Lane Evergreen Park, and American Theater Company. She toured the U.S. in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Regional credits include work at Maine State Music Theatre, Theatre Works Palo Alto, Peninsula Players and Bar Harbor Theatre. Ms. Kettenring has also sung concerts for Ravinia Festival, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pensacola Symphony Orchestra and with pianist Kevin Cole. Heidi can be heard singing on a Disney princess book and can be seen in the film Man of Steel. She is the recipient of 6 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations, an After Dark Award, Sarah Siddons' Leading Lady Award, The Richard M. Kneeland Award, and a graduate of Northwestern University. She is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association and wife of actor David Girolmo.

Lila Morse (Margot Frank) makes her Writers Theatre debut in The Diary of Anne Frank. Credits include Measure for Measure, Lady's Not for Burning (Jones Theatre), One Day When We...(Chicago Slam Works), Neighbors Workshop (Moving Dock Theatre), 1327 West (Loft Theatre), The Winter's Tale Workshop (Globe Theatre, Edu.), Pericles, Hiding in the Open, Rumors (Principia College). She earned a B.A. in Theatre from Principia College. Lhcmorse.wix.com/lhcmorse

Sophie Thatcher (Anne Frank) makes her Writers Theatre debut in The Diary of Anne Frank. Chicago credits include The Secret Garden (Light Opera Works), Oliver! (Drury Lane Theatre), A Christmas Carol: The Musical (Theatre at the Center), The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (Provision Theater), Peter Pan and Seussical (Actors Training Center), Ruthless! The Musical (Liberty Town) and Our Town (Center Stage). Film credits include Growing Strong (a DePaul M.F.A. film).

Eric Slater (Nazi) returns to Writers Theatre where he previously appeared in Misalliance, Butley, and Spite for Spite. Chicago credits include Smokefall (Goodman Theatre), What the Butler Saw (Court Theatre), Major Barbara (Remy Bumppo Theatre Company), Measure for Measure (Next Theatre) and more than 8 productions with Rivendell Theatre Ensemble where he is an ensemble member. Off-Broadway credits include Cyanocitta at the Beckett on Theatre Row, Juvenal Players at The Kitchen, and workshops at New York Theatre Workshop, The Public Theater, York Theatre, Actors Studio and Abingdon. Other NY and regional credits include Our Greatest Year (The Kraine Theater, NY, and Dobama Theatre, OH), Fornicated (American Repertory Theater, MA), The Dudley's (Theatre for the New City, NY), Experiment America (Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston) and Permanent Collection (Madison Repertory Theatre, WI). Eric made his television debut as Greg Sullivan on NBC's Chicago Fire.

James Sparling (Nazi) makes his Writers Theatre debut in The Diary of Anne Frank. Chicago credits include Holmes and Watson (City Lit Theater), Rossum's Universal Robots (Strangeloop Theatre), Dinner with Friends, Shadowbox (Rebekah Theatre Project), Antony and Cleopatra (Skyline StageWorks), Paradise Lost (Agency Theatre Collective). London credits include Comedy of Errors, Not About Heroes, Love upon the Throne, Catch-22 (South London Theatre), Maintenance Man (Canal Café), The London Revue (various). Other UK credits include Hamlet, Macbeth, Entertaining Mr. Sloane, Relatively Speaking, Durham Revue (Edinburgh Festival Pick of the Fringe 1990). He has directed many plays including Cabaret, Catch-22, Hamlet and most recently The Gin Game (Rebekah Theatre Project). Film credits include Waterwalk (2011). He is the executive director of the Rebekah Theatre Project.

Kristina Valada-Viars (Edith Frank) makes her Writers Theatre debut in The Diary of Anne Frank. Credits include The Great God Pan (Next Theatre), Completeness (Theater Wit), Time Stands Still (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Pony (About Face Theatre), A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre). Regional credits include This Is Our Youth (The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis), The Belle of Belfast (The Vineyard Playhouse), Tree (New Dramatists Playtime Series), 516 (NY Fringe Festival), 24 Hour Plays (Intar). Off-Broadway credits include Monstrosity (13 P), Love Drunk (Abingdon Theatre), and The Music Teacher (The New Group). Broadway credits include August: Osage County (U/S, dir. Anna D. Shapiro). Film and TV credits include The Door in the Floor (Focus Features), Shameless (Showtime), Molly's Girl (AriesWorks), Law & Order: C.I. (NBC), Black Box (dir. Stephen Cone), The Last Generation to Die (VASE Group), The Animal Kingdom (ARM Cinema). Education: London Academy of Theatre and Grinnell College.

Antonio Zhiurinskas (Peter van Daan) makes his Writers Theatre debut in The Diary of Anne Frank. Credits include The Whaleship Essex (Shattered Globe Theatre), Doubting Thomas (Clockwise Theatre), Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Picnic, Dangerous Liaisons, Hello out There! (Illinois State University), How to Carry Love (Rhinoceros Theater Festival). Film credits include Bloomin' Mud Shuffle (Eventually Films) and Limerick (Columbia College).

Curtain times are Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:30pm; Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00pm; Saturdays at 4:00pm and 8:00 pm; Sundays at 2:00pm and 6:00pm. Select Wednesday matinees are at 2:00pm. Tickets are $35-$70 and are available at the Box Office, 321 Park Avenue, Glencoe; 847-242-6000 or online at www.writerstheatre.org.


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