Quannapowitt Players Present a Moving Diary of Anne Frank

24May12

With a cast of 15, the Quannapowitt Players‘ “The Diary of Anne Frank” captures the terror, tension and tenderness experienced by two Jewish families being hidden from the Nazis in Amsterdam during World War II, as told by Anne Frank in her diary of her family’s two years in hiding.

The production is directed by former Wakefield resident and 1965 Wakefield High School graduate Nancy Curran Willis.

After the Nazis occupy Amsterdam and announce that they will begin rounding up the Jews, Otto Frank (played by Jim Ansart) decides to hide his family in the annex of his office building. Soon they are joined by another Jewish family, the Van Daans: Hermann Van Daan (David Warmock), Petronella Van Daan (Teri Muller) and their 16 year-old son Peter (Jonathan Acorn).

Eventually, the two families agree to allow a Jewish dentist, Albert Dussel (Kendall Hodder) to join them in their hideout.

The only ones who know of the secret hiding place are a few of Otto Frank’s most trusted Dutch employees, including Miep Gies (Kerry Anne Kilkelly) and Victor Kraler (Patrick Cleary) who bring the Franks and the Van Daans supplies and news of the outside world during their time in hiding.

It’s no surprise that the star of the show is Becky Klein, the Bedford High School sophomore who plays Anne as a an entirely typical 13 year old girl whose diary winds up telling one of the most extraordinary true stories of the 20th century. But there’s nothing typical about Klein’s performance as she totally immerses herself in the role. It is because Klein herself feels all the highs and lows expressed in Anne Frank’s powerful words that she makes the audience feel them too.

Like many 13 year-old girls, Klein’s Anne bickers with her older sister Margot (played by Aryn Colonero), resents her mother (Demetra Tseckares) and adores her father. She is obsessed with boys and movie star magazines, loves reading and dreams of someday being a famous writer.

Forced to be totally silent during the business day so as not to alert employees in the offices below to their presence, tensions develop within and between the two families. But there are moments of humor and tenderness as well, as Anne eventually comes to understand her older sister and appreciate her mother. And as her sexuality awakens, she and Peter go from bitter adolescent antagonists to sharing their first kiss in the attic of the annex.

Jason Benagh’s set design recreates the cramped quarters of the annex hideout furnished with only the basics. A window in the attic tracks the time of day, and the leaves and bare branches of the tree seen through the window chronicle the passage of the seasons.

Director Nancy Curran Willis brings a professional quality to all of her work and “Diary of Anne Frank” is no exception. She has assembled a talented cast who deliver fine performances across the board.

Willis has won numerous awards for her work in both professional theater and community theater. She won the prestigious Eliot Norton Award in 2008 for Best Production and Outstanding Direction for Boston Theatre Works production of “Angels in America.” She has also been at the helm of award-winning QP productions like “True West,” “Breaking the Code” and “The Shape of Things.”

Willis has been actively involved with Quannapowitt Players for 40 years. She grew up in Wakefield and her parents, Charles and Gladys Sturtevant, were founding members of Quannapowitt Players.

QP’s production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” offers audiences a chance to see professional quality theater at bargain prices.

Performances are on May 24 and 25 and June 1 and 2, 2012. All shows begin at 8 p.m. For tickets, go online to qptheater.com/ or phone 781-942-2212.

The Diary of Anne Frank, a play by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. Directed by Nancy Curran Willis. Assistant Director, Lisa Burdick. Producer, Lisa Atkinson. Stage Manager, Judy Forgione. Set Design, Jason Benagh. Lighting Design, Mike Condon. Sound Design, Mike McTeague. Costume Design, Anna Bruce. Hair & Makeup Design, Marc Capizzi. Cast: Becky Klein, Jim Ansart, Demetra Tseckares, Aryn Colonero, Kerry Anne Kilkelly, Jonathan Acorn, Patrick Cleary, Teri Muller, David Warnock, Kendall Hodder, Paul Smith, Derek Clark, Adam Heroux, Avery Bargar and Tom Berry.

(Photos by Jon Sachs)

[This review originally appeared in the May 23, 2012 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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