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ACT Presents “The Diary of Anne Frank”

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Aurora – “The Diary of Anne Frank”, the award-winning, inspiring play about a young girl and her family who hide from the Nazis during World War II, opened at 8 pm Jan. 31 for an eight-show run Fridays and Saturdays through Feb. 22 at Aurora Community Theatre, 115 E. Pioneer Trail.

ACT will present Wendy Kesselman’s adaptation of the play by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett (winner of the 1956 Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award, and Critics Circle Award).  The play is based on Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, edited by Otto Frank.  Kesselman’s powerful, new update interweaves recently discovered writings from Anne’s original diary with survivor accounts to create a dramatic story in which Anne emerges from history as an intensely gifted young girl, who confronts her rapidly changing life and the increasing horror of her time with astonishing honesty, wit, and determination.

In July 1942, Anne and seven others took surreptitious refuge in the secret annex above an Amsterdam business in order to avoid arrest and deportation by the occupying Nazis. Throughout her 25-month captivity Anne kept a record of their daily life in the diary she received for her 13th birthday, later adding notebooks and loose-leaf paper. In August 1944, following an informant’s tip, Nazis stormed the annex and arrested the hidden families, all of whom, except Anne’s father, were later killed in concentration camps.

Roseann Canfora directs this compelling play. Kiara Durbin takes on the challenging role of Anne Frank with Jack Warren playing her father, Otto, Jennifer Warren her mother Edith, and Megan Lebowitz her sister Margot.

Joining the Frank family in hiding were the Van Daan family and others.  Susan Henthorn will play Mrs. Van Daan, Bill Whitaker, Mr. Van Daan, Mitch Pollock, Peter Van Daan, and Kevin Horak, Mr. Dussel.

Two risk-taking friends, Miep Gies and Mr. Kraler, are played by Jennifer Smith and Gary Bakst, who surreptitiously provide food and supplies during two years of confinement in the attic.  Suspense is heightened by possible discovery by Dan Hild, and others.

The 1947 publication of Anne’s diary, with a foreword by Eleanor Roosevelt, was a publishing phenomenon, deeply penetrating American consciousness with its vivid, revealing, and deeply personal account of the Holocaust. The book has since sold 30 million copies and been translated into 67 languages.

Very few plays have moved the Broadway critics to write such glowing notices, receiving the unanimous acclaim of all the top New York reviewers.

“A lovely tender drama…Strange how the shining spirit of a young girl now dead can filter down through the years and inspire a group of theatrical professionals in a foreign land.” New York Times

“There is so much beauty, warm humor, gentle pity…in THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK that it is difficult to imagine how this play could be contained in one set on one stage…this is a fine drama.” New York Daily News

“It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”   – Anne Frank, from her diary on July 15, 1944 (less than one month before the Nazis arrest her and her family, sending them all to the concentration camps).

“The Diary of Anne Frank” is presented through special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc. Adaptation originally produced on Broadway by David Stone, Amy Nederlander-Case, Jon B. Platt, Jujamcyn Theatre, and Hal Luftig in association with Harriet Newman Leve and James D. Stern.

Tickets at $16 for adults, $11 for age 18 and under, are available online, including seat selection, at auroracommmunitytheatre.com, or call the box office at 330-562-1818.

Aurora Community Theatre is located at 115 E. Pioneer Trail, near the intersection of SR 43 and 306, at the gazebo, in the center of Aurora.