"The Diary of Anne Frank" at the Westport Country Playhouse

By Tom Nissley

"The Diary of Anne Frank," currently playing at Westport Country Playhouse, is a top grade production of the story of the Frank family, hiding in an Amsterdam attic during the Nazi occupation in World War II. The story is well known - probably you know it and have seen it before - but it is very very well presented by a carefully chosen cast, directed by Gerald Freedman, on a set designed by John Ezell and lighted by Travis McHale. Costumes were designed by Willa Kim, and the sound was managed by Rusty Wandall.

Molly Ephraim plays Anne, a bright and loquacious teenaged girl, whose personal diary became a record of day to day difficulties and some special moments shared with her father (Mitch Greenberg), mother (Felicity Jones), and sister (Lauren Culpepper) and the Van Daan family (Mimi Lieber, Steve Vinovich, and Ari Brand) and Mr Dussel (Lou Liberatore), who lived together in the tiny attic space for more than two years from 1942 to 1944. They had almost daily contact from Miep Gies (Monica West) and Mr. Kraler (Allen McCullough), who supplied food and some other supplies as they could.

The new adaptation of the drama (Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett) by Wendy Kesselman allows the company to create a rich ensemble feel within the confines of an intricate set, and in various sequences to show the feelings of closeness between sisters, Anne’s distance from her mother, and closeness with her father, the tensions that burdened all of them, and Anne’s special coming of age with Peter Van Daan. Brand and Ephraim are delightful as they explore their private friendship; Felicity Jones is beautifully multi-faceted as the despairing mother, and the action moves steadily toward the sad resolution, which surprises the family (and the audience) just as the liberation of Holland has begun.

You can experience this special work through October 30. Tickets at 203-227-4177, or www.westportplayhouse.org.

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