(clockwise from center/floor) Adam Dodway, Zoe Kawaller, Anne Watters (kneeling), Barbara Blomberg, Stefanie Vinopal, Brian Haggerty, Leslie Engel, Dan Grinko, Bradford Harlan and Daniel Burke. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
From the New York Times, February 20th, comes this glowing review of "The Diary of Anne Frank" which stars Leslie (Cicurel) Engel, who was Director of Personnel in the New York office from 1988-1992. (See February 6th entry.)
The show only runs through Feb. 29th, so get your tickets now!
Reliving a Brief Life
By LAUREL GRAEBER
In many ways she was a typical teenage girl: headstrong and passionate, anxious about her appearance, at loggerheads with her mother, dreaming about fame. But she is remembered for what made her extraordinary: a precocious talent and the cruel circumstances that shaped her short life.
Both sides come through in "The Diary of Anne Frank," Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett's theatrical adaptation of Frank's journal, presented by the St. Bart's Players in honor of the 75th anniversary of her birth. In addition to being rich and nuanced theater, the production is distinctive for two reasons: it is directed by Stephen Press, who played the adolescent Peter in the original Broadway production in 1955, and it is accompanied by "The Anne Frank Story," a fascinating but disturbing photography show (it includes Holocaust images) sponsored by the Anne Frank Center USA.
This "Diary" is thoughtfully detailed, from the haunting music that precedes the opening to the whining sirens and gruff German commands heard during the excruciating penultimate scene. No opportunity for realism is sacrificed, down to the serenely accommodating cat that plays Peter's beloved pet, Mouschi.
Brian Haggerty communicates the strong will and steadfast love of Otto Frank, and Barbara Blomberg makes his occasionally shrill wife humane and sympathetic. Anne Watters brings energy to the quiet daughter, Margot, and Daniel Burke offers comic relief as the fussy dentist, Mr. Dussel. Bradford Harlan and Leslie Engel are convincing as the warring but peculiarly united Van Daans. Adam Dodway, as Peter, their son, finds the appropriate combination of ardor and awkwardness as he falls in love with Anne.
In the starring role, Zoë Kawaller eerily resembles the real Anne, but more important, she embodies the fervor, optimism and mischievous wit that prevent her character from seeing herself as a victim. The staging and the photo exhibition, which explores what happened before and after the action of the play, make Anne Frank's legacy clear. Six million can seem like an impossible number to grasp; by giving the world her unforgettable story, she reminds us of the precious individuality of every one of those lives.
"The Diary of Anne Frank," at St. Bart's Playhouse, Park Avenue at 50th Street, Manhattan, (212) 378-0248 (or 0222). Tonight at 8; tomorrow at 2 and 8 p.m.; Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets: $20; students and 65+, $18. "The Anne Frank Story," through Feb. 29 in the cloister adjacent to the theater. Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free.