Tantallon Community Players The Diary of Anne FrankBy Laura & Mike Clark • Mar 1st, 2007 • Category: Reviews
Listen to our review of Tantallon Community Players’ production of The Diary of Anne Frank [MP3 6:15 1.8MB].
Mike: The Diary of Anne Frank is exactly that. It’s the diary of Anne Frank, a 13 year old girl who hid with her family in a secret annex above her father’s office during World War II.
Laura: I thought this was a very moving performance. The one thing I thought was interesting, in this version they allowed you to see what was going on outside of the secret annex. You saw the Nazi soldiers taking people away and killing them, separating mothers from children and things like that. I thought it was a really powerful performance.
Mike: This was a superb production. There was so much attention to detail. It was very impressive. The director’s notes in the playbill talk about how they tried to recreate the floor plan as best they could. They also paid a lot of attention to detail in the music and the sound effects that were going on during the show. They also did show what was going on with the people in the streets outside while the family was hiding in the annex.
Anne Frank was played by Valerie Holt. She did a great job, she even looked like the picture that everybody has seen of Anne Frank. I was very impressed. She seemed very vulnerable. She didn’t age as well as I would have liked since the show does take place over a period of about a year and a half. She did a good job with it. I liked the tension that was played between her and her mother, played by Lani Novak Howell. (Yes, Mike used the name of Margot Frank, Anna Bonnet in the audio. Sorry for that mistake.) That relationship is very strained, but it felt real. There were a few times when they were getting closer in the second act. That was showing Anne’s maturity and that was very nicely done.
Laura: Anne’s father, Otto Frank, was played by Lance Adell. He also did a great job with this performance. He was very caring and understanding. He was trying to keep everybody happy as well as quiet during the day. But also bringing a “be thankful for what you’ve got” attitude. Always looking on the bright side of things. His monologue at the very end of the play I thought, was very powerful.
Mike: The other family that was staying with the Frank’s in the annex was the Van Daan Family. Mrs. Van Daan was played by Juliette Chagnon. She did a really good job. She was annoying, but also concerned about her family and about keeping up appearances. I think she portrayed that effectively. One thing I said to myself early in the show after watching her was she would make a great Wicked Witch of the West. Later I read the description in the playbill about the performers and she played the Wicked Witch of the West in Tantallon’s last show. Maybe I just subconsciously remembered that, but I think she did a really good job.
Laura: Overall the acting done by the other players was very good. There were a few dropped lines at the beginning. I think people were a little bit nervous. As the play went on everything came together very well.
Mike: The annex area was already set up when you arrived at the theater. So you could kind of look through it as you’re waiting for the show to start. There were two levels representing the attic area and the main living area. They did have some of the back bedrooms up a bit higher so you could see them. That was good. There were several scenes that did take place in those back bedrooms. The main area was the living room and a dining area with a door off to the side to the Van Daans’s rooms and then some stairs that went up to the attic. Tantallon did do a lot of research and tried to get the floor plan pretty close. That was nice. I don’t know how close to scale it was, but it worked. It was very serviceable.
The other thing I noticed before the show, I was trying to figure out which door was the hidden bookcase door that they used to stay hidden from the other people in the office where they were living. I couldn’t figure it out and then once the show started I realized it was on the dead center of the stage coming out into the audience. They had stairs coming from the audience level up onto the stage. That was really quite nicely done.
Laura: One interesting thing I thought was the relationship between Anne Frank and Mr. Dussell, the dentist that came to live with them part way through their stay in the secret annex. Mr. Dusell was played by Larry Carbaugh. The scene I really liked between the two of them was Anne had made an entry in her journal about it being Springtime and she was hugging everybody. She got to Mr. Dussell and they just kind of looked at each other and then went their separate ways. I thought that was very funny.
Mike: One of the characters who was not credited in the playbill was Mouschi the cat. Early on Anne Frank shares with us that she had to leave her cat behind. Then when the Van Daans show up their son Peter, played by Zachary Frank, brought his cat Mouschi with him. He had him in a picnic basket. I thought it would be an, “Oh, I’ve got my cat in here.” He opened up the picnic basket and a real cat popped his head out. That’s a dangerous thing to do in live theater because the animal will usually steal the scene. I was a bit distracted watching the cat. The cat didn’t seem to be enjoying it too much. The cat never did make another appearance, but it was very brave to actually have a live cat on stage.
Laura: One thing I noticed was the lighting effects. It kept flickering and I wasn’t sure if that was part of the show or there was a short circuit or something. The spotlight that was used to sometimes show when Anne was writing in her diary or some late night scenes were just very strange. I figured out it was actually someone in the front row with a flashlight shining it on the person. I thought that was a little bit distracting.
Mike: The Diary of Anne Frank is playing at the Harmony Hall Regional Center in Fort Washington Maryland through March 11th. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 2.
Laura: And now, on with the show.
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Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.