Play brings Anne Frank to life

Friday, October 1, 2004

"The Diary of Anne Frank" is not the easiest production to pull off well with its weighty subject matter demanding a lot of the director and the actors, but the Southeast Missouri State University's production of "The Diary of Anne Frank," directed by Dennis Seyer, steers clear of those dangers and brings the story of Anne Frank to life.

Even those who are familiar with the story will be caught up in it.

Like the Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett 1958 dramatization it is based upon, Seyer's production intermixes recordings of readings from Anne's diary and on-stage action, so the audience gets to hear some of Anne's own words.

Much of the play's success is dependent on the actors and they all step up to the plate and deliver strong performances, which is no easy task when they must breathe life into not just made-up characters, but real people who have become part of history.

The main role of Anne Frank has been well cast with university freshman Katie Jenkins, who is immediately likable as Anne Frank and also manages to convey the changes in Anne over the passage of time.

Anne's relationships with her father and Peter Van Daan provide for some poignant scenes.

Matt Heckemeyer, a non-traditional student, brings a quiet authority and decency to father Otto Frank and he and Jenkins work well together, as do Jenkins and sophomore Trevor Kettelkamp, who plays Peter Van Daan.

Jenkins and Kettelkamp's scenes together are sweet and somewhat sad as the two young people try to make sense of the world and themselves.

Another standout is Seyer's set, which has an attention to detail and a large scale.

The openness of the set allows the audience to see what all the actors are doing and they never step out of character.

Seyer's production of "The Diary of Anne Frank" will likely generate interest in Anne Frank and her world and those leaving Rose Theatre will find it hard to easily put that world behind them. And that is quite an accomplishment.

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