The Diary of Anne Frank at Westport Community Theatre

 “Welcome to Katz Reviews. This is Ed Katz of Katnip Marketing- marketing consultant by day; theater critic by night- with my weekly review segment, Katz Reviews, here for you on WICC 600.

In this, the 70th anniversary of the publication of Anne Frank’s diary, it is amazing how powerful her story remains. And, given the recent rise in anti-Semitism both in the U.S. and overseas, this play shines a bright light on the dangers of such Fascist-imposed darkness.

Westport Community Theatre, which produced the surprise of the season with their excellent production of Arthur Miller’s ‘A View from the Bridge,’ strikes again with this terrific production of the Pulitzer-prize winner, ‘The Diary of Anne Frank,’ which runs through December 10th.

 Katelyn Ferrari as Anne Frank

This production is the 1997 adaptation by Wendy Kesselman of the original script by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. Directed by Richard Mancini, ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ solidly depicts the struggles of the Frank family as well as their fellow Jewish sufferers- the Van Daans and an elderly dentist named Dussel- as they are all forced to live in hiding from the Nazis in a small attic apartment in Amsterdam during the middle of World War II. Together they face hunger, boredom, stress and- of course- the constant threat of death if they are discovered.

 l to r: Avery Bebon, Jeff Pliskin, Katelyn Ferrari, Deborah Burke

A key relationship is that of Anne Frank and her father, Otto (nicknamed “Pim”). Pim is the voice of calm and reason among the trapped families- and the actors Katelyn Ferrari, as Anne, and Jeff Pliskin, as Pim- work really well together, reuniting here after having appeared several months ago in Westport Community Theatre’s ‘Moon Over the Brewery.’

Also brought back from that production is Marc Hartog, who capably plays the troubled Mr. Van Daan.

His wife is played by Randye Kaye, who is also an area radio personality, and she does a fine job here, too.

 l to r: Randye Kaye, Deborah Burke, Jeff Pliskin, Marc Hartog

As Anne Frank, Ferrari again shows she is a marvel. Just a sophomore at Stratford High School, she is a true talent to see with the energy she brings to the title role here, conveying a spirit of brightness amidst the gloom- which wears down Anne’s older sister, Margot, played by Avery Bebon.

The cast overall really works well with this material so kudos to director Mancini, as very few spots lag. Even most of the smaller roles- such as those played by Jessica Grabarz and Jerry Kranz, whose characters risk their lives by bringing food and basic supplies to the hidden Jews, as well as the parts played by Frederic Tisch and Tom Petrone- come across well and enhance the entire production.

 photos by WCT

The casting, direction, lighting and sound are all solid although, as the actors are not mic’d, it is sometimes a little hard to hear them when they are in the back of the stage.

It is my pleasure to report that, start to finish, this is a thoroughly moving and worthwhile production as Westport Community Theatre continues to impress this season and I give their production of ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ 4 stars out of 5. Catch it before the run ends December 10th.

And catch my reviews right here this time each week and on my Facebook page and website, Katz Reviews dot com, where you will find all my WICC 600 reviews.

This is Ed Katz talking theater for WICC 600!”