Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

The Diary of Anne Frank
A Young Girl's Voice Is Heard Across the Decades
Albuquerque Little Theatre

Review by Rob Spiegel

Also see Rob's review of The Country House


Annelise Wall and Mario Cabrera
Photo by Randy Talley Photography
One of the most powerful stories of the 20th century wasn't intended to be a story at all. Anne Frank didn't even set out to write in a diary. The diary was a present on her 13th birthday. Anne's writing in the dairy was encouraged by an address she heard on the radio in March 1944 by the Dutch Minister for Education, Art, and Science, Gerrit Bolkestein. He asked Dutch citizens to document their suffering from Nazi occupation in diaries and letters.

The play The Diary of Anne Frank was adapted by Francis Goodrich and Albert Hackett in the 1950s from Anne's diary. Anne's father, Otto Frank, had the diary published in 1947.

The story would be powerful if it were simply read by actors sitting in chairs on the stage in street clothes. In a full setting with detailed costumes the story comes to life before us in its full tragedy. During a talkback after Sunday's performance, an audience member who had visited the annex where Anne and her family and friends hid from the Nazis noted that the space where the eight lived for more than two years was actually smaller than the set on the Albuquerque Little Theatre stage.

It's a well-known story. The Franks are a family of Jews hiding from the Nazis in an annex above a shop. They share their space with the three Van Daans and Albert Dussel. Mr. Kraler and Miep Gies bring them food and news. Everyone is aware that if they are discovered, they will be taken to concentration camps and near-certain death.

The play opens with Otto Frank, Anne's father and the sole survivor of the eight, returning to the empty annex and discovering Anne's diary. In actuality, Miep Gies found the dairy strewn on the floor after the families were arrested. She saved it and returned it to Otto at the end of the war.

Under the direction of the always-excellent James Cady, The Little Theatre's production is a joy. While all of the actors turn in strong performances, the story hinges on Anne. She is the heartbeat of the story. It's Anne's intelligent hopefulness in the face of hopelessness that has kept the story alive for millions upon millions of readers and viewers. Annelise Wall delivers Anne with tenderness and strength.

While all of the performances are worthy, other standouts include Philip J. Shortell as Putti Van Daan. Shortell has recently been cast in a string of wonderful productions directed by Cady at the Adobe Theatre. He's an actor of amazing range. Notable design elements in this production include the impressive set by Ryan Jason Cook and the great period costumes by Carolyn Hogan. It's a terrific production across the board.

The Diary of Anne Frank, adapted by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, will run at Albuquerque Little Theatre, 224 San Pasquale SW, through May 1, 2016. The show starts at 7:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2:00 pm on Sundays. On Thursday, April 21, there will be a school-time performance at 10:00 am. On Thursday, April 28, there will be a performance at 7:30. Tickets are $22 for adults, $20 for seniors (65 and above), $18 for students (13 to college), and $12 for children (12 and under). You can buy tickets online at albuquerquelittletheatre.org or by phone at 242-4750, ext. 2.


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