West Springfield High School The Diary of Anne FrankBy Cappies • Dec 5th, 2012 • Category: Cappies
An empty attic, sparse furniture, and two instantly recognizable Nazi flags frame the stage. A young girl’s voice pierces the silence and a small family appears. Welcome to West Springfield High School’s most recent production, The Diary of Anne Frank.
The Diary of Anne Frank, the stage adaption of the book “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, had an original Broadway run at the Cort Theatre and opened on October 5, 1955 starring Susan Strasburg in the title role, garnering numerous Tony Awards along the way. In 1997, a newly adapted edition by Wendy Kesselman was produced on Broadway with Natalie Portman as Anne. The story follows the Jewish Frank family as they go into hiding during World War II in Amsterdam where they are joined by four other Jews seeking refuge from the increasingly anti-Semitic world outside.
Catherine Ariale’s Anne Frank was played with childlike innocence and wonder. Each movement and word reflected the brashness of childhood and the defiance of young adulthood. Ariale took the audience to her most personal places, discussing everything from her relationship with her mother to sexual awakenings tactfully and expressively. As the war progressed, we saw Anne turn into a young adult before our eyes with impressive physicality and emotion. Each scene Ariale entered brought a new energy and lifted the other actors onstage to new levels. Leading the talented cast with grace and confidence, Ariale never faltered in her well-developed characterization and held the audience’s attention until her tragic end.
The cast as a whole remained dedicated to the challenging piece throughout the play, giving an air of suspense and worry to the story. Among the skilled actors that bolstered the show, there were several stand-outs, including Carrie Wogaman as Mrs. Frank. Her spot-on characterization and moving emotions as she struggled to connect with her daughter made her character one of the most believable. Mr. Frank, portrayed by Drew Holcombe, proved himself a cornerstone of this production from beginning to end through his caring and wise demeanor. His delivery of the show’s closing monologue was poignant and honest making it a highlight of the show.
Another standout was Rachel Steiner as Mrs. Van Daan. Her well-developed characterization, hilariously biting comments, and bold acting choices propelled her to the top of this production.
The technical elements were enjoyable and added to the atmosphere of a Europe at war. Lighting was used beautifully and effectively, casting daunting and eerie shadows against the Jewish prisoners and Nazi guards. Though plagued with various mic troubles, sound effects came out loud, clear and on cue. Lightning-fast costume changes were masked by radio programs and the booming voice of Adolf Hitler. The set, a handsomely furnished versatile two-story annex, was student designed and built. Overall, the tech in this show was executed well and was often moving.
Anne Frank, a hopeful girl in a hopeless era, inspired millions. The talented actors at West Springfield presented The Diary of Anne Frank with powerful emotion that left audience members stunned as the lights went down on this well-executed production.
by Joey Ledonio of Bishop Ireton High School
Photos provided by West Springfield High School
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