Stage Company Director David Carroll calls “The Diary of Anne Frank” one of the most challenging plays he has ever directed. He also says, it has been among the most rewarding.
As most people know, the play is based on the actual writings of Anne Frank, who kept a diary while she was hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands of World War II.
It is a difficult and dark subject matter to portray on the stage, but the power of the story comes from Frank, who was just a girl, emerging into the very beginnings of womanhood, as the story takes place.
Caitlin Dollins portrays Anne Frank in this production, and perfectly captures Frank’s spirit. Frank was a spirited girl, which did not necessarily make her life easier in this situation of being forced to live in hiding under highly stressful circumstances. As with most girls her age, she was dealing with the typical challenges of getting along with parents, and trying to figure herself out, and facing the perplexing hormone drives young women face. I was amazed at Dollins’ performance. She is a young girl herself, but yet managed to capture the complexity of Anne Frank’s character.
It is these every day challenges that audiences recognize, and also give the play lighter moments, as we all recall those challenges of youth. It is beyond our imagination to think of dealing with those challenges at the same time facing the very real threat to our own life, and the lives of everyone we hold dear. Yet somehow Anne Frank maintained her optimism in her own future, and in the overall goodness of humanity.
Darrell Taylor played the role of Mr. Frank, bringing to the character the courage and balance of Mr. Frank, who frequently was playing the role of peacemaker in a home in which its occupants were constantly on edge. In Taylor’s final speech as Mr. Frank, I could hear his voice cracking with emotion when telling about learning of the fate of his beloved daughter. That is acting, because it did not feel like acting. It felt real.
All of the actors did an outstanding job, but one of the characters who intrigued me most was Mr. Dussel, portrayed by Michael Hibler.
He was the lone character in the story without any real connections to the others, who all had family connections and friendship connections with one another.
I could feel Dussel’s sense of isolation, and his fear. Obviously he feared death. But I think more than anything, he feared dying alone. And yet he knew that was likely to be his fate. Hibler portrayed that feeling of isolation in a quiet, yet stunning manner.
Carroll admits he has never worked with a finer or more dedicated cast. From the very beginning, he said, they were all committed to doing the story justice.
It’s a story humanity would rather not have to remember, yet we must.
And that is the reason you should see this play.
You think this surely could never happen again.
But it likely will.
Because as this story dramatized, humanity has the potential for great goodness, and great evil.
The trick is to figure out which we are seeing. It is not always easy to discern between the two.
It requires careful observance.
See “The Diary of Anne Frank” at the Historic Rodgers Theatre, March 20, 21, 27, and 28 at 7:30 p.m. There is also a 3 p.m. matinee on March 29.
Mr. Frank Darrell Taylor
Miep Rachel Stiber
Mrs. Van Daan Hilary Taylor
Mr. Van Daan Josh Taylor
Peter Van Daan Aaron Taylor
Mrs. Frank Hilary Lawson
Margot Frank Emma Owens
Anne Frank Caitlin Dollins
Mr. Kraler Chris Nowak
Mr. Dussell Michael Hibler
German Soldier Tony Miller
Assistant Director Hilary Lawson
Stage Crew Vanessa Todd
Lights James Kilgore
Sound Mike Malone and Gary Dollins
Director David Carroll
Connie Taylor and Vicki Davison – Sets/Props/ Costumes
Tracy Tarpley – Stage Manager
Vanessa Todd – Stage Crew
Gary Dollins and Mike Malone – Sound
JD and Keyven Dunn – Set Construction.
James Kilgore – Lights
Photos by Bill Clanahan