Westfield Playhouse’s ‘Anne Frank’ confronts Holocaust horrors
By Brianna Susnak
Main Street Productions of Westfield will be staging “The Diary of Anne Frank” at the Westfield Playhouse for the next three weekends – but with a twist.
In this gripping new adaptation by Wendy Kesselman of the original stage play by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, newly discovered writings from the diary of Anne Frank – as well as survivor accounts – are interwoven to create a contemporary impassioned story of the lives of people persecuted under Nazi rule.
The play gives the firsthand account of Frank’s life growing up in Germany and spending two years in hiding during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.
“We kept this version as pure as possible,” said director Kristin Wilson. “And everything is accurate to its time. There are pages and speeches from Anne’s diary that come directly from the book and are unedited.”
The cast, which ranges from newcomers to seasoned veterans, has worked hard to maintain the historical accuracy and raw emotion of the original play.
“I’ve read the diary several times, and it’s something I’ve always been fascinated by,” said Maggie Williams, who will star as Anne Frank. “It’s relatable because she is just an ordinary girl thrown into her situation.”
Williams has been involved with theatre for 10 years. However, adapting to this role has been different from any other role she’s had in the past.
“This is the first time I’ve played someone who isn’t a fictional character,” she said. “There is more pressure trying to do a real person justice, but it’s been a good challenge.”
Much like Anne Frank’s family bonds throughout the play, the cast has developed a family-like atmosphere during rehearsals.
“Whenever you put on a show in an intimate space and everyone is on stage, you tend to get close and it is a very good bonding experience,” Williams said.
“The cast has gotten really close,” Wilson said. “We’re bringing a real person’s story to life, and telling a piece of history. Anytime you can do that is something special.”
“The Diary of Anne Frank” • 7:30 p.m. June 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 and 28 and 2:30 p.m. June 22 and 29 • Westfield Playhouse, 1836 W. Ind. 32 in Westfield • Tickets start at $12 • For more information call 896-2707 or visit www.westfieldplayhouse.org.
Maggie Williams, Anne Frank; Dennis Forkel, Otto Frank; Cerissa Marsh, Edith Frank; Emily Springer, Margot Frank; Katie Doman, Miep Gies; Cody Fenimore, Peter Van Daan; Rich Steinberg, Mr. Kraler; Emily Dickos, Mrs. Van Daan; Will Pullins, Mr. Van Daan; Doug Davis, Mr. Dussel; Cayley Fenimore, Anne Frank (US); and Melody Barrows, Margot Frank (US).