The reality of our world is hard to swallow.
Some more than others and in those moments as we reflect on certain events, we look upon them with glassy eyes and pain in our chests. Our own humility wanting to reach out to aid in those long lost. Yet even in those dark times such as the horrors of the Holocaust and World War 2, a glimmer of what was survives. A voice of hope and innocence that shows the beauty underneath the horror.
That is exactly what happened with The Diary of Anne Frank, which now has found its way to the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities. Directed by Christy Montour-Larson, this play tells the true story straight from the pages of Anne’s diary. How her, her family and the Van Daans, hid away in the annex of her fathers company as the Nazi’s invaded the Netherlands.
What this cast manages to convey is beyond words, even as I am typing right now I find it very hard to describe. Watching the show, the rawness of the performances, the audience was given a sense of honest comfort. Darrow Klein is Anne, switching from the innocent beginnings of her early days in the Annex to the honest, and blunt woman she was becoming in her later days with a smooth transition. Klein is incredible. Embodying Anne with every once of respect and grace that I’m sure will charm anyone who sees her. The rest of the cast for a better word are unrecognizable as their characters. Emma Messenger, and Emily Paton Davies being two that are completely lost behind the faces of Mrs. Van Daan and Edith Frank respectively; tugging at your heartstrings with a single expression. Then there is Larry Cahn as Otto Frank, (Anne’s Father) personifying a mesmerizing soul with a single line. This cast soars, paying homage to those whose courage defied the worlds limits in such a harsh time.
Their dedication shines even during intermission as the actors never leave the beautifully design annex by Brian Mallgrave. Walking about the beautiful stage just as their characters would; unable to leave their hiding place. Something as small as this speaking such volumes to the seriousness of the situation and what so many endured at the time.
Sometimes it can be a very big risk to take on a show such as this. With its material and truth that travels along with it. I can only praise the cast, crew and director for dedicating their time in telling this incredible story and bringing Anne’s diary to life before our eyes.
The production as a whole is a masterpiece of historical truth. Ensuring Anne, her family and the Van Daams are real, and are heard; even down to the fantastic lighting design by Shannon McKinney, who lifts Anne’s words right off the page. While Jason Ducat gives sound to the horror of what happens just outside of the annex’s safety.
Many plays based on true stories come with certain expectations, and tone. Some may be encouraged to dull this tone down in order for its audiences to understand. Yet The Diary of Anne Frank doesn’t do this. They step forward boldly during a time where we ourselves aren’t sure what tomorrow will bring. Showing that Anne’s voice was in need of being heard, her story was in need of being told once again. Creating hope for us all despite what could happen. The power of her words giving more than she could have ever imagined.
Seeing the actors during their bows, eyes wet, tears streaming down their cheeks, emotions no longer hiding from the truth of Anne and her family’s story, we reflect on what was and look forward to what we can do to create a better world.
The Diary of Anne Frank runs in repertory at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities through May 17th. Check dates for performances a thttps://arvadacenter.org/the-diary-of-anne- or contact at the box office at 720-898-7200