Powerful and emotional, Wasatch Theatrical Ventures’ production of The Diary of Anne Frank blends wonderful acting and excellent stage work as it reveals the horrors and joys of eight Dutch Jews hiding from the Nazis in a cramped attic. This updated version focuses more on the rebellious, teenage Anne and the honesty of her words that continue to resonate with us today. Wendy Kesselman’s adaptation updates the language and focus of the play while still recounting the threatening circumstances of eight people struggling to survive their imprisoned existence, while making Anne a more honest and impassioned young girl.
Director Mark Belnick’s thoughtful vision combines both typical familial teenage troubles with chilling reality as it focuses on the power of living. He draws energetic, naturalistic portrayals from the strong cast. Susan Priver’s Mrs. Van Daan hides her struggles behind charm and flirtatiousness. Jack Kandel’s warm, empathetic performance as Otto Frank makes his final discoveries heartbreakingly real. Young Valerie Rose Lohman radiates passion as she superbly shows the bratty, challenging Anne maturing into a sensitive, intelligent young woman.
Belnick’s staging evokes the haze of dreams with moody and elegant images. Matthew Richter’s excellent lighting and sound design lend a haunting nostalgia, before the shocking, terrifying discovery. Shannon Kennedy’s lovely, elegant costumes and hair are spot-on period recreations. The Diary of Anne Frank continues to move audiences as it reveals the heart-wrenchingly real struggles of eight people in Nazi-occupied Holland. Anne’s words tell us to never forget these horrible times.
Wasatch Theatrical Ventures presents The Diary of Anne Frank Saturday nights at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. through Aug. 25 at the NoHo Arts Center located at 11136 Magnolia Blvd. in North Hollywood. Tickets cost $25, and can be purchased at plays411.com, or by calling (323) 960-7788.