Review

Atholton's `Diary' brings history to life

November 09, 2007|By Paul Kennedy | Paul Kennedy,special to the sun

In a time of turmoil in Europe shortly after World War II, one Jewish girl's personal testimony became a symbol of the viciousness of the Nazis.

This heartwarming and heart-wrenching story was brought to life in Atholton High School's production of The Diary of Anne Frank.

Based on the diary of a young Jewish girl in hiding with her family in Amsterdam during the German occupation of Holland, the play by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett opened in 1955. The Atholton production used a newly adapted script by Wendy Kesselman for the 1997 Broadway revival.

Jennie Gold played Anne Frank. Gold captured Anne's transformation through the play from curious teenager to young woman. She glowed in scenes with Danny Romeo as Peter Van Daan, whose family was also in hiding. The audience laughed and sighed when Peter and Anne finally expressed their feelings for one another in a first kiss that displayed the awkwardness of teenage love.

Anne's relationship with her father, Otto Frank, played by Dustin Merrell, added another poignant aspect to the play. Merrell effectively portrayed the gentle and caring father who put his family before all else. His monologue upon returning to the hiding place as the sole survivor was stirring.

Mrs. Van Daan, portrayed by Kat Griffin, provided humor and also displayed the deeper aspects of her character. Nicole Pierre played the generous Miep Gies, the woman who hid the family and who later discovered Anne's diary and protected it. Pierre provided a warming back story to the play with a bright smile and compassion.

After the Frank family was betrayed to the Nazis, they were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Anne died at Bergen-Belsen at age 15.

Atholton's production effectively used lighting and set to re-create Anne's family's hiding place. The set, created by Scott Myers and Loren Scolaro, employed numerous levels and displayed various rooms of the hiding place -- the top floor of a building with exposed framework. A few walls featured writings by Anne, displaying the power of the written word.

Atholton High School treated audiences to a glimpse of the all-too-short life of Anne Frank. Their wonderfully crafted set and talented performers brought Anne's world to life, and just as a diary should, the play allowed us to reflect upon our own world.

Paul Kennedy, a student at Loyola Blakefield, reviewed "The Diary of Anne Frank" for the Cappies of Baltimore, a program in which students review high school productions under the direction of their teachers and vote on awards for outstanding performances.

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