It’s a story known around the world. Fourteen-year-old Anne Frank and her family — her sister Margot, her father Otto and her mother Edith — went into hiding in 1942 during the Nazi Occupation of the Netherlands in World War II after Margot received a summons to report to a Nazi work camp.
The Frank family, along with the family of Otto Frank’s business partner Hermann Van Daan, hid in an upper annex located in the business’ headquarters. While in hiding, Otto Frank purchased a diary for Anne in which she detailed true stories of hope amidst fear that have been translated into 70 languages.
The Edgemont High School Fall Drama club will perform a play based on “The Diary of Anne Frank” next weekend in the school’s auditorium.
EHS English teacher and play director Mike DeVito said he chose the play lest people forget.
“I think it’s a story that perhaps may be in a little bit of danger of fading,” said DeVito. “I wonder how many people are still familiar with the diary of Anne Frank.”
DeVito added, “[The diary] is a great work in its own right and it’s curricular — I always like doing things that are curricular.”
The director also said he enjoys doing plays where the lead characters are close to the age of the actors.
In this production, the leads are EHS seniors Grayson Rosenberg, who plays Anne, and Thomas McKillop, who plays Peter, Hermann Van Daan’s son and Anne’s love interest.
The exception to DeVito’s preference is senior Austin Perera who plays Anne’s father, Otto Frank.
The actors had varied reactions after reading the script and finding out which character they would portray.
Rosenberg said during summer break she had both read “The Diary of Anne Frank” and took part in a virtual reality tour of the Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam.
Rosenberg said reading the book allowed her to “hear [Anne’s] thoughts” and realize “This is a real person, living her life under a situation she was put in — not voluntarily and not by any means under her control, but she still goes on living.”
Rosenberg was also able to make a personal connection with the Anne Frank story.
“My grandma was born the same year Anne Frank was born,” she said. “[Anne] could be 89 years old today, telling her story to people. But instead she wrote it down.”
McKillop said he was familiar with the basic story of Anne Frank before reading the script. However, he was surprised to find out the story wasn’t enveloped in complete sadness.
“There were a lot of funny parts and I was kind of surprised by that,” he said.
Each of the leads said they were aware the story ends tragically. In 1944, the Frank and Van Daan families are discovered and deported to concentration camps. The only person to survive World War II was Otto Frank.
Perera said he was “skeptical” of the play at first because he knew the heartrending ending.
“I had no idea what to expect going into this,” he said. “I thought it was just going to be sad the whole way through.”
However, Perera was pleasantly surprised.
“The play ... doesn’t stay on one emotion for the entire play or even for an entire scene,” he said. “A lot of the times, it’s jumping from emotion to emotion — just like real people would.”
Director DeVito said he hopes the audience will be able to grasp the scope of the “terrifying” situation in which the Franks and Van Daans were living.
“But more importantly,” he said, “there’s this wonderful spirit in all of these people. It’s worth spending time with people who are in this dreadful situation and are still living their life from day to day.”
The EHS Drama Club production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” takes place Friday, Oct. 19 and Saturday, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. in the school auditorium, 200 White Oak Lane, Scarsdale. For tickets and info contact Debbie Hollander at email@example.com.