“The Diary of Anne Frank” is a stage adaptation of one of the most famous books published posthumously, “The Diary of a Young Girl.” The playwrights Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett were a husband-and-wife screenwriting team perhaps best known for their adaptation of the 1943 short story “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern, which the beloved Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life” was based on. The couple spent eight years completing this play, which opened on Broadway in 1955 and received the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. EastLine Theatre’s production features Wendy Kesselman’s 1997 revision of the Goodrich and Hackett adaptation.

Lee Kurfist, Gary Tifeld, Melanie Lipton

The BACCA Arts Center in Lindenhurst is an intimate space, which allowed Danny Higgins, the innovative director of this powerful two-act drama, to bring an immersive theatre experience to the audience. Throughout the show, you will feel as if you are locked away in the Secret Annex with the Franks, the Van Daans, and Mr. Dussel. The entire cast is superb, and the interpersonal relationships between the different characters rang true, keeping the show’s emotional grasp rock solid throughout. “The Diary of Anne Frank” is one of those rare plays where the actors stay on stage the whole time, cleverly dramatizing the harsh truth that in real life, there was no other place for them to hide and no room in the Secret Annex for them to get away from each other. Kudos to Higgins for his masterful lighting, which helped set the play’s somber, realistic, and often terrifying tone.

Chloe Adamczyk as Anne Frank and Victoria Kay as Margot Frank

Chloe Adamczyk was perfectly cast as Anne Frank, a strong-willed, intelligent teenager awakening to her sexuality, longing to live life, but stuck in involuntary confinement by a world gone mad. Anne wants to be a writer and says, “I want to go on living even after my death!” Adamczyk is a gifted actor whose expressive body language and facial gestures spoke volumes. I loved the fun and tender moments she shared with her older sister, Margot, beautifully portrayed by the talented Victoria Kay. Kay brought a quiet strength to this role. When the Gestapo officer barged into the Secret Annex, the terror-stricken expression on Kay’s face sent chills down my spine.

Gary Tifeld as Otto Frank

Gary Tifeld delivered an award-worthy performance as Otto Frank, Anne’s kind, supportive, and protective father. The drama closes with Tifeld giving one of the most gut-wrenching monologues you will ever hear on any stage. Tears rolled down my eyes as he painfully described the dire fate of his friends and family members. Melanie Lipton commanded the stage as Edith Frank, Otto’s devoted wife, and she was believable as Anne and Margot’s troubled but loving mother.   

The Van Daans also shared the Secret Annex. As time went on, the tension between the two families grew stronger and stronger, so much so that Edith Frank insisted, after catching Mr. Van Daan stealing a piece of bread, that he and his family must find another place to hide, a feat damn-near impossible for them to accomplish. Ted Moriates, as Mr. Van Daan, and Staci Rosenberg-Simons, as his wife, had dynamic onstage chemistry. Their easy banter provided much-needed comedic relief throughout the play. They also shared many poignant moments that added to the play’s emotional impact. Michael Devereaux gave a memorable performance as Peter, their timid and hypersensitive teenage son, and Anne’s love interest.

Lee Kurfist gave a standout performance as Mr. Dussel, a neurotic dentist who shared a room with Anne. Watching him fiddle with his dental tools and struggle to learn French from Anne were some of the more lighthearted moments in the play.

“I never thought I’d live to see the day a man like Mr. Frank would have to go into hiding.” These heartbreaking words were spoken by Mr. Kraler, a man who worked for Otto Frank and risked his life to help the Frank family and the others escape the Nazi death camps. Peter Goike III gave a nuanced performance as Mr. Kraler, a man who mustered up the courage to do what needed to be done despite his fears. Clare Lowell was outstanding as Miep Gies, a kind, moral woman who hated the Nazis and brought food, good cheer, and news of the outside world to the people locked away in the Secret Annex.

The authentic period costumes byΒ Chery Manniello and the outstanding sound design by Danny Higgins and Dan Moses Schreier added to the overall success of this stellar production.

Ted Moriates, Michael Devereaux, Staci Rosenberg-Simons

This haunting real-life drama about a horrific time in history is a heartrending and enlightening experience, one you and yours don’t want to miss. Performances are at the BACCA Art Center in Lindenhurst and run through February 25, 2024. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at eastline.ludus.com. More information is available at eastlinetheatre.org or by calling 516-749-5047.

Cindi Sansone-Braff is an award-winning playwright. She has a BFA in Theatre from UCONN and is a member of the Dramatists Guild. She is the author of “Grant Me a Higher Love,” “Why Good People Can’t Leave Bad Relationships,” and “Confessions of a Reluctant Long Island Psychic.” Her full-length plays, “Beethoven, The Man, The Myth, The Music,” and “Angel’s Mice and Men” are published by Next Stage Press. www.Grantmeahigherlove.com.

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