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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

The Diary of Anne Frank Retains Power
at Renton Civic Theatre

Also see David's reviews of Jersey Boys and Flashdance



The Diary of Anne Frank, Albert Hackett and Francis Goodrich's dramatization of Anne Frank's memoirs of her years in hiding from the Nazi's during World War II, receives a respectful, generally well-acted production at Renton Civic Theatre. Artistic director Bill Huls handles the material with perhaps a bit too much reverence, and his pacing of the proceedings could be better. Yet the Hackett/Goodrich script remains solid, finding humor and inspiration within the bleak scenario.

Framed as a flashback, the Pulitzer Prize winning play begins with Anne's father, Otto Frank, returning to the family's hiding place in the attic of his former business in Amsterdam, where he discovers his younger daughter Anne's diary. The book recounts the period from July 1942 to August 1944 during which Otto and Anne, Otto's wife Edith, and Anne's elder sister Margot, along with their acquaintances Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan, their son Peter, and a dentist named Mr. Dussel (the Van Daans and Dussel were pseudonyms) were hidden by his business associates Miep and Mr. Kraler. Anne grows into young womanhood in the course of the story, struggling in her relationship with her mother, a crush on Peter, and having to deal with crotchety roommate Dussel. The Van Daan parents are a source of additional drama, with Mrs. Van Daan's vanity and flirtatious behavior and Mr. Van Daan's poaching of the shared food rations intensifying the drama of the attic dwellers' efforts to keep from being discovered.

In the title role, Audrey Montague is warmly believable and likable as Anne, and need only slow down her occasional tendency to speed up her dialogue to be a complete success in the role. In the showy roles of the Van Daans, John Kelleher and Deya Ozburn dominate the production. Ozburn totally convinces as a woman who goes into hysterics when her husband sells her prized mink coat, and Kelleher is deeply moving when he realizes the selfishness of stealing the food rations for himself. Scott Garrett seems far too young, callow and all-American to capture the soft-spoken old world maturity of Otto Frank, though Yvette Zaepfel fares rather well as the solemn Mrs. Frank. Moshe Henderson pairs well with Montague as Peter Frank, and Emily Fortuna is quietly forceful as Margot.

Mad Dog Productions creates a convincing-looking hiding place set, although the depth of the RCT stage makes it look less claustrophobic than one might wish. Samantha Armitage's costume designs seem authentic to the period. A special hand to cast member Tinker, a charming, well-behaved cat who still managed to draw focus in every scene which he appeared in.

The Diary of Anne Frank runs through April 27, 2013 at Renton Civic Theatre, 507 S. 3rd Street in Renton, Washington. For more info go to www.rentoncivictheatre.org.


Photo: Renton Civic Theatre



- David Edward Hughes



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