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Lake Superior Community Theatre Presents The Diary of Anne Frank

Lake Superior Community Theatre has presented a wide variety of shows over the years, from humorous musicals to more seri­ous fare. This year’s production, The Diary of Anne Frank, is not only serious, but true, re­lating the actual account of Jewish teen Anne Frank during the final years of World War II.

Anne Frank’s diary, published in book form as Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, was originally adapted to play form in 1955 by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, the duo behind It’s a Wonderful Life and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Though the 1955 play earned both a Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1956, it was criticized for “sanitizing” the history of Anne Frank. In 1997, Wendy Kesselman revised and adapted the original script to in­clude later-released diary material and to em­phasize the tragedy of the Holocaust.

The play begins in Amsterdam on July 6, 1942, two years after Hitler’s invasion of the Netherlands. Anne Frank (played by Marley Schumacher), her sister Margot (Vesper Rob­inson), and her parents Edith (Betsey Mead) and Otto (Daren Blanck) arrive in the Secret Annex, an addition dating from 1739 which was built onto an existing 17th century private home at 263 Prinsengracht. In 1940, Otto Frank rented the entire structure to use for his company Pectacon. The ground floor housed the company workshop, the first floor was storage, and the second floor became office space. In order to access the second floor, a new staircase was constructed between the main house’s first and second floors, becom­ing the staircase leading to the bookcase en­trance to the Secret Annex.

Otto Frank’s business partner Harry Kral­er (Steve Robertson) and his secretary Miep Geis (Leah Hulst) agree to help the Frank family. The Franks share the Secret Annex with Hermann (Rick Frericks) and Petronel­la (Terri Frericks-Blood) van Daan and their son Peter (Jack Virginia). Peter brings his cat into hiding, which pleases Anne, who had to leave her cat behind.

A sobering monologue delivered by Anne summarizes all that the Jewish people were forbidden from doing by the Nazi regime. This soberness is added to by Otto’s declara­tion that everyone must remain perfectly silent between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. due to the workers in the offices and workshop below. Anne’s buoyant personality carries her, though, and she begins life in the Secret Annex expecting her time in hiding to be an “adventure”. She pulls out her red-checked clothbound diary, only to discover she has forgotten a pencil. She moves to go downstairs to find one, but Otto stops her, a chilling reminder that those in hiding cannot leave.

As the families adjust to life in hiding, Petro­nella van Daan complains about the limited meal choices, and Miep struggles to provide food for the families on illegal ration cards. Anne tries to tease Peter, but he gets upset. Confined in close quarters, the two families frequently annoy each other. Everyday dis­putes are interrupted by a sudden siren.

Two months pass, and Miep and Harry Kraler come to the Annex and ask if there is room to hide one more person, a Jewish den­tist named Alfred Dussel (Scott Thun). The families agree to make room for Dussel, but it is a difficult adjustment in already cramped quarters.

Dussel tells the Franks and the van Daans about the horrors of the occupation. Many Jews have been taken from their homes with­out warning and sent to the “East” – the in­famous concentration camps of Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, and others. Anne is stricken to learn that her friend Hanneli (Sara Betzler) was taken.

Months pass, and the last free parts of France fall to Hitler. Everyone in the Annex, especially Anne, is plagued by nightmares. While Dussel and Hermann and Petronel­la van Daan are annoyed by Anne waking up screaming, Otto and Edith comfort their daughter.

Hanukkah comes to the Secret Annex. A menorah is lit, and Anne surprises everyone with small gifts. Peter is very touched by Anne’s thoughtfulness, but the pleasantness is dispelled by arguments. A crash terrifies everyone, causing them to panic and wonder if they’re still safe. Otto goes to investigate and announces with relief that it was just a thief robbing the office.

Act II opens on New Year’s Day, 1944. The inhabitants of the Annex deal with food shortages and sickness. Miep surprises ev­eryone with cake, a unheard-of luxury, but a squabble arises over dividing it fairly. Petro­nella hurts Anne’s feelings, and Anne leaves the common room. Peter follows her, and, af­ter being in hiding together for a year and a half, the two young people become friends.

Food grows even scarcer, and the families make do with rotten potatoes and kale, impa­tient for the British to liberate Europe. Harry Kraler worries that an employee suspects he is hiding Jews. Anne hears the Dutch Min­ister of Education on the radio, announcing he’ll be looking for first-hand accounts and diaries of the war. Anne resolves to start turn­ing her diary into a novel.

More time passes, and Anne and Peter spend time together in the attic of the An­nex, away from the constant commotion of the others. Margot is glad Anne has someone to talk to, but is jealous that she has no one. One night, Edith hears a noise and discovers Hermann van Daan is stealing bread. She is furious and wants to kick him out, but is dis­suaded by the others. Miep comes and inter­rupts their argument with news that the Allies landed at Normandy.

Days later, the young people are in the at­tic preparing strawberries for jam, and the adults are enjoying a plate of strawberries with a card game. Suddenly, Gestapo agents (played by Andrew Deyette, Wally Crabtree, and Brad Johnson) burst into the Annex. The capture of the inhabitants of the Annex is ter­rifying, and Anne is forced to leave her diary behind.

Time passes, and Miep enters the empty Annex. She finds Anne’s diary and saves it. Otto Frank returns to the Annex after the war and delivers a tragic monologue detailing the fates of his wife, his daughters, the van Daans, and Dussel.

Anne Frank died in February 1945 while imprisoned in the Bergen-Belsen concentra­tion camp. Otto Frank was the only survivor of the Secret Annex.

The March 26th performance was given a standing ovation, and many audience mem­bers had tears in their eyes as they watched the tragic history of Anne Frank come to life. The set doubled as a projector, with World War II newsreels projected onto the set, add­ing a sense of era and solemnity. Voiceovers of BBC and other radio broadcasts of the era also added to the authenticity.

The Diary of Anne Frank was made possi­ble due to the contributions of the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, Lovin’ Lake County, the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation, Isabella Friends of the Fourth, Gary and Mary Zinter, the cus­tomers of Lake Superior Community The­atre’s Really Big Costume Sale, and many others.

Director Paul Deaner, set designer Ann Gumpper, cast and stage manager Benny Isaacman, and many others helped to bring this production to life. Production staff in­cluded Kenny Albrecht, Sue Churack, Emma Deaner, Katie Fritz, Susan From, Corey Hulst, Leah Hulst, LeeAnn Johnson, Julia Kloehn, B.J. Kohlstedt, John Kohlstedt, Lisa Malcomb, Nexus Trueself, Patti Paulson, Ria Soderstrom, and Tanya Thomas.

The cast, crew, and board of directors at the Lake Superior Community Theatre (LSCT) would like to honor the life and communi­ty contributions of LSCT actor and former William M. Kelley High School Principal George Starkovich.

Vesper Robinson, who played Margot Frank, says the material presented in The Di­ary of Anne Frank is “very hard to deal with”, but goes on to explain that it is very import­ant to understand just how real the Holocaust was and how important it is for young people to be aware of it.

The program for The Diary of Anne Frank included a quote by Martin Niemöller, a Lu­theran pastor in Germany during Hitler’s re­gime. He became an outspoken force against Hitler and spent the last seven years of the Nazi regime in concentration camps.

“First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a social­ist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Marley Schumacher, who played Anne Frank, says the play has been a “very long process but very rewarding.” She counts a performance a success if just one person is influenced and learns the truth about the Ho­locaust.

Haley Searls
Haley Searls
Hello! My name is Haley Searls. I’ve loved writing from an early age, though my nonfiction writing at five years old consisted mainly of weather and gardening reports. I still have some of those early articles: “It’s sunny.” “It’s still sunny.” “It’s raining.” I’m glad to say my writing has improved since then. I wrote a guest post for the Silver Bay Public Library blog, and was the writer/editor of the newsletter for my American Heritage Girls troop. I have been writing for the North Shore Journal since June 2022. Besides writing, I love reading, drawing, photography, music, and spending time with family and friends. Two books that have really influenced my writing are Reforming Journalism by Marvin Olasky and Writer to Writer by Bodie and Brock Thoene. As a journalist, I want to share positive community interactions and inspire people to make lasting connections. Article topics that interest me are ones which show community activities and involvement. Such articles include community events, youth accomplishments, library programming, small businesses, local history, local artists and authors, art programs, and cultural events such as theater and dance. If you have an article idea, email the North Shore Journal with my name in the subject line! I look forward to hearing from you!
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