CORINTH – As a teenager, Anne Frank turned difficult times that few could imagine into a lasting legacy.
“She had such a big personality and she was stuck in a small place,” said Amanda Hilliker, 15, who plays the title character in Corinth Theatre-Arts’ “The Dairy of Anne Frank.”
Anne funneled her dreams and observations into a diary that chronicled the two years her family spent hiding from German soldiers during World War II.
After her death, the diary was released as a book that continues to captivate readers. Her experiences were dramatized for the play.
“It’s not a happy show,” Hilliker said, “but you can go and learn how these people felt.”
CT-A has built its own version of the Frank family’s Secret Annexe in Amsterdam. From age 13 to 15, Anne shared the cramped space with her father, Otto, mother, Edith, and sister, Margot. They were joined by four others who sought shelter from the Nazis.
“These families are middle class families,” said Kelly Gilson, director, “and they’re forced to live in this shabby attic that’s really not meant to house people.”
A chance to remember
It’s a story many people have heard of, but the specifics might have been lost.
“I learned about it. I knew it was something that really happened,” said 19-year-old Iuka resident Jeremy Taylor, who plays Peter Van Daan, “but I didn’t know much more.”
Before opening for the general public, the play will be performed for schoolchildren. The show includes lighter moments, like the awkward courtship between Anne and Peter, but there’s a weight to “The Diary of Anne Frank” that can’t be denied.
“I told the cast, the whole cast, that this isn’t a story that needs to be celebrated,” Gilson said. “It needs to be remembered.”
Otto Frank is the only person from the Secret Annexe to survive the Nazis’ annihilation of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust.
In the real world, he was the guardian of his daughter’s literary legacy. In the play, he’s the father of a girl who seems much like other teenagers trying to manage the transition to adulthood.
Anne never made that transition, but her words continue to shake hearts and minds more than 60 years after her death at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
“This without a doubt is the best show I’ve been involved in,” said Leland Hendrix, who plays Otto Frank, “without a doubt.”
Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or email@example.com.
At the Crossroads
– Corinth Theatre-Arts’ “The Diary of Anne Frank”
– When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday
– Where: Crossroads Playhouse, Corinth
– Tickets: $10/adults, $5/students
– Info: (662) 287-2995
– Cast: Amanda Hilliker (Anne Frank), Leland F. Hendrix (Otto Frank), Donna Baird (Edith Frank), Linda Hilliker (Margot Frank), David Maxedon (Mr. Van Daan), Kathy Lynn Lesley (Mrs. Van Daan), Jeremy Taylor (Peter Van Daan), Christopher Donovan (Mr. Dussel), Amanda King (Miep Gies), Ken Carter (Mr. Kraler), Tonny Ledbetter, Milton Wallis (Nazi Soldiers)
M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal