In 1942, in German-occupied Holland, the Frank family went into hiding from the Nazis. Over the next two years, their youngest daughter, Anne, would chronicle their lives as they and their neighbors led a cramped existence in a secret attic above her father’s former business.
They were eventually discovered, and all but her father, Otto, would perish in concentration camps. Anne’s writings were published as, “Diary of a Young Girl,” and became a worldwide phenomenon that is now an indelible part of modern literature, the stage and the big screen.
The Pulaski Fine Arts Association is bringing this classic story to the Theater on the Square. Performances of “The Diary of Anne Frank” are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 13, 14, 20 and 21 and at 2:30 p.m. March 15 at the theater, located in downtown Waynesville.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 12 and younger and can be purchased by calling 573.528.4164 or ordered online at www. pfaa-tots.com.
“It’s the story of a young girl who was essentially murdered by the Nazis,” said Geri Dallhammer, the play’s director, who has guided the cast and crew since rehearsals began in early January.
“Unfortunately, they were found out just weeks before the liberation of most of the camps, and they all were killed except for Anne’s father, Otto, who came back to his attic and found the diary she had kept. Later, he decided it would be fitting to publish it,” Dallhammer said.
While an early, more sanitized version of the story was used for the first stage and screen versions in the early 1950s, the PFAA version is based on a newer adaptation, in which Anne, a teenager, discusses becoming a woman in the midst of the holocaust. The theater company has self-rated the production PG.
“When it was first published, there were several different translations, but a lot of the things that were originally in (her diary) were left out of the first movie version, especially,” Dallhammer said. “In the early 1950s, Hollywood simply wasn’t ready to discuss certain things. This is a reimagined version adapted by Wendy Kestleman that was first performed in 2016.”
Eleven-year-old Teagan Herrin takes on the title role of Anne, who she researched before auditioning.
“Actually, when I heard the auditions were coming up, I started to do research and watched the movies,” Herrin said. “I think (Anne) is really energetic a lot of the time, but as she gets older, she tries to be more mature, so I try to approach my role the same way.”
Playing Anne has been a learning experience for Herrin.
“It’s really fun to be in the cast, and it’s also educational — you really learn about the times — and it gets really emotional at times,” she explained.
Dealing with those overwhelming emotions has been a welcome challenge for Curtis Wood, who plays Otto Frank.
“It’s a tough role,” Wood said. “Some of the scenes here, like when my character comes in and tells everyone he’s heard on the radio that the (Normandy) invasion has begun, you know, there’s a lot of optimism there. Doing that scene with all that hope that they’re going to be free, yet knowing what happened, that they’re going to be captured, yeah, it’s heartbreaking.”
Susannah Roylance plays Anne’s older sister, Margo, while Michal Burton portrays her mother, Edith. Joining the Franks in their hiding place are the Van Daan family, including Mr. Van Daan, played by Gary Akins, Mrs. Van Daan, played by Janet Rozmiarek, and Peter Van Daan, played by Connor Sutterley, along with Mr. Dussel, a dentist, played by Thomas Fink. Alex Pellum plays Mr. Kraler, and Brooke McCord plays Miep Gies, Dutch citizens who try to keep the Franks hidden.
“These people are a close family who really care about each other, but as performers or audience members, we know they are not going to make it through, except for, of course, Otto,” Wood said. “Otto has to go on and live with the fact that he survived and his family didn’t. I think people will see some of the human tragedy that took place.”
Dallhammer said the show has a running time of just over two hours.
Those interested in ordering tickets are encouraged to do so quickly since seating is limited.
“We hope everyone can come out and see the show,” Dallhammer said.