A drive to Vergennes: a visit to history, a message of hope

Josie Fox as Anne Frank and Mogan Ingenthron as Peter Van Daan.

by Rosalyn Graham

The current production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” by Little City Players is a ‘must see.’ The play captures a moment in history that should never be forgotten, when Nazi armies overran Europe and civilian populations waited for the allies to invade and save them…and none waited with more fear than two families of Dutch Jews who had been hiding in an attic for two years.

Audiences might be apprehensive about seeing a play about such a dark subject, a story that they know does not end happily for the ten people whose lives together are recorded by Anne, the youngest resident of the attic, but Director Sue Fox and her talented and well-chosen cast focus on the optimism that helped them cope.

Their production explores the relationships among the four members of the Frank family, the three Van Daans, Mr. Dussel, the dentist who shares their attic, and their two non-Jewish friends who help them to hide.

Each person in the cast contributes a well-developed character, Olivia Hern as the frail sister Margot, Katie Palmer as the fearful mother Edith, Mack Roark as brave and steady father Otto, Mary Scripps and Glen Eastman as Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan, remembering their privileged and wealthy former life, John Montgomery as Mr. Dussel, the dentist, and Morgan Ingenthron as Peter Van Daan, who matures from boy to young man during the two years of captivity. Claire Lawson as Miep Gies and Stephen Lowe as Mr. Kraler are the link to the outside world, bringing food and news.

But the star of the play is Josie Fox, a Charlotte Central School seventh grader, as Anne Frank, whose optimism and cheerfulness keep up the spirits of the attic dwellers, and whose entries in her red plaid diary create the continuity of the action. She portrays Anne as a smart pre-teen who enjoys teasing her sister and Peter, who matures into a wise and strong young woman who gives strength to those around her. And it is her final speech in the play that ensures that the audience leaves the Vergennes Opera House with a message of hope in their hearts.

The Diary of Anne Frank will continue on Thursday, Oct. 18 through Sunday, Oct. 21 at Vergennes Opera House at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 ($10 for seniors and students) and can be purchased at www.vergennesoperahouse.org.

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