BWW Review: THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK at The Summit Playhouse Brings the Poignant Story to Life
"When I write, I shake off all my cares."
By Anne Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank
A superb play, The Diary of Anne Frank is now on stage at The Summit Playhouse. Based on the Anne Frank's journal accounts, it is written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, adapted by Wendy Kesselman and directed by Karen Thornton. Even if you've read Anne Frank's compelling diary or seen a rendition of the story before, this is a show that shouldn't be missed. With the recent commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz and the current rise in anti-Semitism, it is very significant for our times.
The book, "The Diary of Anne Frank" has touched the minds and hearts of people throughout the world. Since its Dutch publication date in 1947, it has been translated into 60 languages. Anne kept her journal during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands when the Frank family, the Van Pel family, and a dentist, Mr. Dussel went into hiding. For nearly two years, the eight individuals were housed in cramped, sealed off annex rooms above the company building of Anne's father, Otto Frank. The little group lived in constant fear of being discovered and their only contacts were with their empathetic friends, Miep Gies and Mr. Kraler. Anne was a spirited young teen whose natural talent for writing shed light on the tragic circumstances of so many people that were terrorized by the brutal Nazi regime.
The Summit Playhouse has assembled an excellent cast to tell The Story of Anne Frank. They include Ava Chrusciel as Anne Frank; Christopher C. Gibbs as Otto Frank; Joëlle Bochner as Edith Frank; Rachel Gesner as Margot Frank; Annie Belkin as Miep Gies; Will Nissen as Peter van Daan; Jay Mattila as Mr. Kraler/First Man; Paula Ehrenberg as Mrs. Van Daan; Gordon Wiener as Mr. Van Daan; Charles Grayson as Mr. Dussel and George Pappas as Second Man. The company captures the drama, affection, wisdom, tension, and occasional humor of this poignant play.
Unforgettable moments in the show include Miep and Mr. Kraler bringing the Frank family into the annex; the Van Daan family arriving at the annex; Anne's excitement over Peter's cat; Otto Frank helping the children with their schooling; the Hanukkah celebration and Anne's presentation of thoughtful, handmade gifts; Miep bringing a spice cake treat for the group; Otto Frank gently calming his wife Edith; the group supper; Mr. Van Dan insisting that Mrs. Van Dan sell the coat she received from her father; Mr. Dussel working on Mrs. Van Daan's dental issue; Margot and Anne talking about Anne's special time with Peter; Mrs. Van Dan's happy recollections of her dates with Mr. Van Dann; the short-lived joy in the annex when they learned of the Allied Invasion; and Otto Frank's return to the annex where he tells of the dreadful fate of his family and friends.
The Production Staff has done a top job of bringing The Diary of Anne Frank to the Summit stage. The include Producers, Pam Heller & Sam Nissen; Stage Manager, Aaron Kellner; Set Design and Construction by Stephen Catron assisted by Kevern Cameron; Set Painting, Stephen Catron; Costume Design/Playbill, Ann Lowe; Poperties, Frank Riccobono; Sound, Rob Jukac; lighting, Wendy Roome assisted by Julie Piazza; Voiceovers, John A.C. Kennedy & David Freeman; Poster & Graphics, Eleanor Anderson; House Manager, Sam Nissen; Opening Night Hospitality, Paula Ehrenberg assisted by Jeslyn Wheeless & Fred Cuozzo; Ticketing, Bob Velasquez; and Publicity by Karen Thornton.
The Summit Playhouse is truly a gem of a theatre in the community. Individuals, families and young people will all be captivated by their production of The Diary of Anne Frank. We commend them for staging the show. Get your tickets!
The Diary of Anne Frank is being performed at The Summit Playhouse on March 6th, 7th, 13th and 14th at 8:00 pm. Matinees will be on March 1st and 8th at 2:00 pm. The show runs just under two hours with one intermission. The Playhouse is located at 10 New England Avenue, Summit, NJ 07901. For ticketing and more information, please visit: http://www.thesummitplayhouse.org/ or call 908.273.2192.
Photo Credit: Sam Nissen