ANNE, A NEW PLAY Celebrates Anne Frank's 90th Birthday At Museum Of Tolerance
In celebration of what would have been Anne Frank's 90th birthday this June, the Simon Wiesenthal Center presents the U.S. premiere of Anne, A New Play, a unique play by Dutch playwrights Jessica Durlacher and Leon de Winter that reframes Anne's story through an unconventional lens. Produced by five-time Tony award nominee Suzi Dietz, Durlacher and de Winter's play has been newly adapted for American audiences by Nick Blaemire from a translation by Susan Massotty and is directed by Eve Brandstein. Previews begin June 5, with opening night set for June 16 at the Peltz Theater in the Center's Museum of Tolerance, where performances will continue through July 22.
In this new adaptation of the immortal Holocaust story, 13 year-old Anne Frank imagines her life as a young woman - safe in a post-war world. When she meets a publisher who expresses interest in her story, Anne looks back on the two years she spent hidden away with her family during the Nazi regime. This innovative production eschews traditional sets and costumes to place the audience and actors on the same dramatic plane as the characters - all real people under real circumstances - fighting for their lives, sanity and dreams of the future.
Anne premiered in Amsterdam in 2014. The New York Times called it a "complex portrayal of a teenage girl who is sometimes impetuous, spoiled and lonely," noting that the play explores the family members' lives before they hid as well as Anne's dream of traveling to Paris.
Blaemire was brought on to restore the lyrical, ethereal nature and rhythms of the original Dutch playscript to the more literal English translation, and to update the tone in light of recent current events and increased anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. and globally.
"These historical figures are our better angels," says Blaemire. "The play is about what we can all do for each other, and how we can live up to Anne's story - to make sure that it never happens again."
Blaemire has also streamlined the script; the running time is down from two-and-a-half hours to a fast-moving 75 minutes.
Ava Lalezarzadeh, currently in her third year at UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television, takes on the role of teenage Anne, with Interact Theatre Company founding member Rob Brownstein (Beautified, La Ronde Du Lunch at Skylight Theater; True West, Speed the Plow at the Odyssey; An Enemy of the People, Splitsville, The Normal Heart at Interact) starring as her father, Otto Frank. Andrea Gwynnel, co-founder/artistic director of Chrysalis Stage, doubles as Anne's mother Edith and family friend Miep, and Marnina Schon, seen in Once at South Coast Repertory, Vendetta Chrome at Coeurage Theatre Company and Brundibar at Berkeley Rep, plays sister Margot. The remainder of Anne's companions in the secret annex are portrayed by Mary Gordon Murray, a Tony nominee for Little Me whose many other Broadway credits include Coastal Disturbances, Footloose, Into the Woods, The Robber Bridegroom, Grease, I Love My Wife, and Play Me a Country Song (Mrs. Van Pels); Aylam Orian, who has appeared in numerous NYC productions and was a series regular on Stargate Origins (Mr. Van Pels); and Kevin Matsumoto, whom L.A. audiences might recognize from productions with Musical Theatre Guild, 3D Theatricals and Chromolume Theatre (young Peter Van Pels). Tony DeCarlo, (The Runt at Theatre of NOTE; ICU at Circle X, The Car Plays at Segerstrom Center for the Arts and La Jolla Playhouse) plays multiple roles including the landlord and dustman, while Timothy P. Brown (The City of Conversation at Santa Barbara's Ensemble Theatre Company, Twelfth Night at PCPA) is featured as the fictional publisher.
The creative team includes set designer Desma Murphy, lighting designer Ian James, sound and projections designer Derek Christiansen, costume designer Florence Kemper Bunzel and graphics designer Carrie Kneitel. The production stage manager is Ernest McDaniel.
Audiences will be able to take advantage of a special offer to see Anne, A New Play in combination with the Anne Frank Exhibit currently on display at the Museum of Tolerance for a single price. Narrated by Academy Award-nominated actress Hailee Steinfeld, the museum's newest experience brings Anne's story to life through immersive environments, multimedia presentations and intriguing displays.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is a global human rights organization researching the Holocaust and hate in a historic and contemporary context. The Center confronts anti-Semitism, hate and terrorism, promotes human rights and dignity, stands with Israel, defends the safety of Jews worldwide, and teaches the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations. With a constituency of over 400,000 households in the United States, it is accredited as an NGO at international organizations including the United Nations, UNESCO, OSCE, Organization of American States (OAS), the Latin American Parliament (PARLATINO) and the Council of Europe. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the Simon Wiesenthal Center maintains offices in New York, Toronto, Miami, Chicago, Paris, Buenos Aires and Jerusalem.
The Museum of Tolerance is the Center's educational arm, founded in 1993, that challenges visitors to confront bigotry and racism, and to understand the Holocaust in both historic and contemporary contexts. The Museum has hosted nearly 7 million visitors, including over 3 million children and youth who have participated in the Museum experience and its programs. Over 200,000 adults have been trained in the Museum's customized, professional development programs which include Tools for Tolerance, Teaching Steps to Tolerance, Task Force Against Hate, National Institute Against Hate Crimes, Tools for Tolerance for Teens, Bridging the Gap and Space to Talk About Race.
Anne, A New Play opens on Sunday, June 16 at 7 p.m., with performances thereafter on Sundays at 3 p.m. and 7.p.m. and Mondays at 8 p.m. through July 22. Previews begin on Wednesday, June 5 (check website for preview schedule). General admission is $40, with senior tickets (62+) priced at $25 and student tickets priced at $20. A family pack, good for two adults and up to three children, is $100; Anne, A New Play is appropriate for ages 8 and up. Discounted combination packages that include a ticket to Anne, A New Play and entrance to the museum's Anne Frank Exhibit are available: check the website at www.museumoftolerance.com for details.
The Museum of Tolerance is located at 9786 W Pico Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90035. Parking is free in the underground structure. For reservations and information, call (310) 772-2505 or go to www.museumoftolerance.com.