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Review: THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK at STNJ is Theatrical Excellence

"This is what going into hiding means, one mistake could cost us our lives."

-The Diary of Anne Frank

The Diary of Anne Frank is now at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (STNJ) through November 21st. This moving theatrical piece is impeccably performed with superb direction by Joseph Discher. The Pulitzer, Tony and NY Drama Critic's Circle Award-winning play is written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett and adapted by Wendy Kesselman.

75 years ago in the Netherlands, Anne Frank received a diary from her father for her 13th birthday. She wrote in the journal about day-to-day events while in hiding with her family in the Secret Annex during the occupation of Amsterdam by the Nazis. The Frank family, Otto, Edith and their daughters Anne and Margot live in the Annex's tight quarters with Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan, their teenage son, Peter and the dentist, Mr. Dussel. Differing personalities, the constant fear of being discovered and uncomfortable conditions make tensions rise causing quarrels among the group. Life was especially hard for Anne who is coming of age.

Even if you have read Anne Frank's writings, this gem of a play brings new meaning to the gripping story, a story that has become symbolic of the heinous atrocities committed in World War II. The Diary of Anne Frank is a powerful portrayal of the strength of the human spirit. Anne's fortitude, humor and kindness are qualities that have endeared her to people for generations.

While the fate of the characters is known to be bleak, there moments in the production you will absolutely relish. Affectionate exchanges between the members of the Frank family, a lovely Hanukkah celebration, the antics of the Daan family, Miep's dedication to the group, the budding romance between Anne and Peter and Mr. Dussel's serious nature are captivating elements in the play.

The cast of The Diary of Anne Frank is extraordinary in every respect. Each portrayal of the characters is so realistic that the Secret Annex comes to life before your eyes. Emmanuelle Nadeau is ideal as Anne Frank, a playful, sensitive and creative teen. Bryan Scott Johnson is excellent as Otto Frank, patient, intelligent and often the voice of reason. The show has remarkable, compelling performances by Jacqueline Antaramian as Edith Frank, Lauriel Friedman as Margot Frank, Anthony Cochrane as Mr. Van Daan, Carol Halstead as Mrs. Van Daan, Sean Hudock as Peter van Daan, Shana Wiersum as Miep Gies, Patrick Toon as Mr. Dussel and Michel Leigh Cook as Mr. Kraler. The cast is rounded-out by Mathias Goldstein, Jackson Knight Pierce, and Nick Clark Tanner.

The Artistic Staff has done a very fine job of bringing A Diary of Anne Frank to the STNJ stage with lighting design by Matthew E. Adelson, sound design by Steven L. Beckel, costume design by Candida Nichols and set design by Brittany Vasta. Denise Cardarelli is the Production Stage Manager.

Now is the time to see The Diary of Anne Frank at STNJ. It is an essential play for everyone, an opportunity to recognize the intense plight of individuals whose lives are threatened by tyranny.

The Diary of Anne Frank will be at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey through November 21st at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, 36 Madison Avenue (at Lancaster Road) in Madison. It has a run time of 2 hours and 15 minutes including intermission. Individual tickets and subscriptions can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 973.408.5600 or by visiting

Photo Credit: Jerry Dalia

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