By: Carolyn Corsano Wong Photos: Michael Pittman Images
STAGE RIGHT of Texas, resident theatre company at the historic Crighton Theatre (named one of the top 10 theatres in the state to see live theatre performance by BestThingsTX.com) is proud to present a new adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank. By original authors Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett and newly adapted by Wendy Kesselman, this new adaptation was seen on Broadway in 1997 starring a young Natalie Portman as Anne. STAGE RIGHT is excited to be able to bring this realistic and faithful adaptation to the Crighton stage. Audience members will be transported back to Amsterdam of 1942 to the office building annex where Anne, her family and 4 others hid from the Nazis until their discovery in 1944. Authentic radio broadcasts of the time will be heard as will words from Anne’s diary that were originally excised when it was first released. This powerful new adaptation will bring Anne to life again through her words: “When I write I shake off all my cares. But I want to achieve more than that. I want to be useful and bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death!”
Patrons need to be aware that this version of the script is not the movie or the original 1950s version they may have grown up with. This new version, while only slightly different from the original (90% of the original is intact), contains Anne’s candid and eloquent description of her developing body and the feelings she is beginning to have are lovely yet those of a more sensitive nature and young children may be offended or confused. This version also includes a startling scene when the Nazis come to take the inhabitants of the annex away and a powerful epilogue presented by Otto Frank, Anne’s father and only survivor, in which he tells the fate of each person in hiding. Parents of young children are urged to use discretion when buying tickets for this show.
Co-directors Bonnie Hewett and Meredith Gaines have assembled a wonderful cast to bring this hauntingly luminous story to the stage. Bonnie has directed all over Houston most notably at Country Playhouse and Playhouse 1960 and directed Blithe Spirit for STAGE RIGHT last season. Meredith is new to the Conroe theatre scene having directed many shows at Playhouse 1960. Leading the cast as Anne Frank is Katie Kowalik. Katie has been seen in numerous STAGE RIGHT shows most recently as Hailey Ann Haley in Glitz-The Little Miss Christmas Pageant Musical, Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka and Frieda in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Anne’s father Otto Frank is played by newcomer John Salinger. John, a recent transplant from Baton Rouge, is making his Crighton debut in this show but has been seen elsewhere on Houston stages including Playhouse 1960 in Into the Woods and The Runner Stumbles. Audience favorite Maria Sirgo is playing Anne’s mother Edith Frank. Maria has appeared in many STAGE RIGHT shows including our very first production of Christmas Belles in 2008. She was seen most recently as the daffy Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit. Playing Anne’s thoughtful older sister Marot is newcomer Mackenzie Mann. While new to the Crighton stage, Mackenzie has performed in many Class Act productions in The Woodlands and received a Best Actress award from Conroe ISD UIL competition in 2017 and 2018. Appearing as Mr. Van Daan is Quint Bishop. A playwright himself, Quint has graced the Crighton stage many times including The Miracle Worker, The Red Velvet Cake War and Mama Won’t Fly. Playing the needy Mrs. Van Daan is Patrice Kentinmenos. An acting instructor by day, Patrice has appeared in quite a few STAGE RIGHT productions including The Carol Burnett Show, Dearly Beloved, A Christmas Story and most recently in a moving portrayal of Mrs. Kendall in The Elephant Man. Playing the Van Daan’s son Peter is Kevin Downs. Kevin has appeared in numerous productions here in Conroe at both the Owen and the Crighton including The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 (Eddie Mccuen), And Then There Were None (Anthony Marsdon) at the Owen and The Elephant Man (Conductor) and The Addams Family (Prince) at the Crighton. Playing Mr. Dussel, the last person to join the Franks in the annex, is John Kaiser. John has been seen in 3 shows in a row this season; Into the Woods (Mysterious Man), 42nd Street (Bert Barry) and now this show. John moved to Conroe late last year and wasted no time in getting involved here at the Crighton both on stage and helping behind the scenes. Playing Miep Gies, one of the helpers to the Franks, is Leona Hoegsberg. Audiences have seen Leona grace the Crighton stage many times before including as Jeri Neal in The Dixie Swim Club, Carrie Watts in The Trip to Bountiful and Mrs. Pearce in My Fair Lady. Playing Mr. Kraler, who also helps the Franks is newcomer John Guest. John is a ‘part-time musician, author and lawyer’ who has decided to give acting a try! Unlike the previous version of the play, the Nazis do appear in this version and take everyone away. Playing the Nazi in charge is Baron Dan Jackson. Dan is a WWII reenactor and has been seen as a Nazi in numerous History Channel offerings and he has also graced both the Owen and Crighton stage for many years. Dan appeared most recently as Cinderella’s father in Into The Woods. Also appearing as a Nazi is Sean Sears. Sean appeared as a gangster with a terrific sucker punch in a cameo role in 42nd Street. Accompanying the Nazi will be Rocky the wonder dog! Rocky has performed at several airshows, including Wings over Houston and various WWII reenactment events throughout the State of Texas and in New Mexico.
Directors Bonnie Hewett and Meredith Gaines cast understudies for multiple roles in order to give more people a chance at learning the craft of acting in such a moving piece of theatre. Understudying the role of Anne is Christin Burris. While making her STAGE RIGHT debut, Christin has appeared in shows with CYT, Christian Community Theatre, Refine Arts and National Youth Theatre. Understudying the role of Margot is Samantha Seeton. This is Samantha’s second production with STAGE RIGHT; she was an Oompa in Willy Wonka. She’s participated in many school plays and likes acting, costumes, makeup, and set work. Samantha’s mother, Cherri, is stage managing. Cherri worked with us previously alongside her daughter on Willy Wonka and has stage managed and directed many productions since her first college production in New Orleans ‘many moons ago.’ Owen McWhirter is understudying the role of Peter Van Daan. Owen has worked both on stage and backstage in quite a few productions having appeared as Schroeder in A Charlie Brown Christmas and ran sound and microphones for Into the Woods and 42nd Street. Understudying the role of Miep Gies is Rachel Sakal. Rachel moved here from San Diego and is making her STAGE RIGHT debut. She performed previously with CYT and the Comin’ Up Country traveling tour group.
Performance dates for The Diary of Anne Frank are April 12-28; Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm and two Sunday matinees April 21 and 28 at 2 pm. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Crighton Theatre box office at 936-441-7469 or online at www.stage-right.org. Group discounts are available for groups of 12 or more by calling the box office. Performances are at the historic Crighton Theatre at 234 N. Main Street in downtown Conroe. STAGE RIGHT shows are partially funded by the City of Conroe, visitconroe.com.