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Cappies: Parkway Central captures the nuances in 'Anne Frank'

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 13, 2012 - Eight lives are packed into suitcases and hidden in an annex. A young girl's diary recalls one of the most saddening, grim events of human history; the Holocaust. Parkway Central's production of "The Diary of Anne Frank" provides a small glimpse into the struggles and hardships of life in hiding, and demonstrates the courage and bravery of the Jewish people.

The dramatization of Anne Frank's diary written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, opened on Broadway in 1955, 10 years after the Holocaust. "The Diary of Anne Frank" won the Tony Award for best play and was nominated for several other awards. The play continued to run on Broadway until 1957.

Otto and Edith Frank and their daughters, Margot and Anne, along with Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan, their son, Peter and his cat, are moved into the annex of an office building.

Jake Blonstein portrays Otto Frank with the utmost sincerity. His facial expressions and unscripted actions make his character feel genuine. Lydia Harris takes on the motherly role as she portrays the devoted Edith Frank and effectively shows the troubles between her and Anne.

Jocelyn Finkelstein does a nice job displaying Anne's complex range of emotions as she transform through out the play. Alex Tash's stiff movements and bewildered demeanor makes Mr. Dussel, who later comes to the annex, an almost comic character, yet manages to make him seem very natural.

The cast takes on European accents and delivers lines consistently overall. Parkway Central delicately handles the serious subject matter and manages to highlight Anne's optimism.

During scene changes, entries from Anne's diary are projected on to the set, while the cast changes costumes on stage. At times, the movement is distracting, but the bold choice allowed the transitions to move quickly. The set resembles a  layout similar to the actual Annex. Several rooms separate the cast, but they are left open to the audience, enabling an array of events to occur organically and simultaneously. The detailed costumes are suitably appropriate for the time period. Every actor is easily heard wherever he or she is on stage, and sound effects add to the suspense.

Parkway Central's chilling production could not be pulled off without the high level of maturity and great dedication from the strong cast. "The Diary of Anne Frank" shows that even in the worst of times, there is still an opportunity to experience joy and happiness.

Audrey Lipsmire is a student at Northwest High School.