“Where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again,” wrote 15-year-old Anne Frank on D-Day in the world’s most famous diary. With more than 31 million copies sold in 67 languages, her immortal words humanize the Holocaust experience through a perspective at once personal, universal and timeless.
“There’s a need in our society today for the message of tolerance and hope that Anne Frank had even on the eve of her death,” says Michael Andron, artistic director of the J’s Cultural Arts Theatre and its upcoming production of The Diary of Anne Frank.
The iconic play delivers a powerful opening statement for JCAT’s state-of-the-art home at the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center/Sanford L. Ziff Campus.
The Alan and Diane Lieberman Theatre in the Feldenkreis/Hanono Cultural Center debuts on Oct. 24 with the dramatic reveal of a stage shaped like a Jewish star, a symbolic twist on the “Secret Annex” designed by JCAT alumna Violet Battat, an architect in Silver Springs, Md. This spare set confines the precarious lives of eight Jews to the cramped attic of an office building in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam.
Over two years in hiding, tensions rise among the Frank and Van Daan families joined by dentist Mr. Dussel, as scripted by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett in 1955, when the Broadway premiere won a Tony and Pulitzer Prize. Wendy Kesselman’s adaptation four decades later incorporated material previously unpublished or downplayed, contextualizing action onstage with historical radio broadcasts and narrative voiceovers.
Anne’s journal entries, recorded by Julia Eiglarsh and Mia Blachman (young leads alternating performances), punctuate the original score composed by another JCAT alumnus, Daveed Ben-Aire, weaving a distinctive atmosphere around this grassroots interpretation.
MAR-JCC’s Cultural Arts Theatre presents The Diary of Anne Frank Oct. 24 – Nov. 4 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 p.m., and Sundays at 2 and 7 p.m. Advance tickets are $25, reduced to $15 for seniors and students ($35 or $20 at the door). Reservations and information at www.jcctheatre.com.