By Vincent PAGE
The prestigious play “The Diary of Anne Frank” will be taking over the Crescenta Valley High School auditorium stage this weekend when CVHS Falcon Players perform the intense drama.
Starring seniors Sydney Pontius (Anne), Aidan Travis (Peter Van Daan), and Cameron Vargas (Mr. Frank), the play explores the conditions a group of eight people, most of whom were strangers, faced while living in an attic fearing apprehension by the Nazis.
The story is a powerful one. Taking place during the Holocaust when over 6 million Jewish people were killed, these eight hopeful survivors fled to the attic of the buildings in which Mr. Frank runs his business. His assistant Miep, played by Deena Gharibian, helps run the business as usual while also bringing food and supplies to the families upstairs. Joining the Frank’s upstairs are the Van Daan family (Peter and Mr. And Mrs. Van Daan) and eventually dentist Fritz Pfeffer, who has a strong rivalry with the household cat.
This show is different from the many plays and musicals done in recent years, as this is the story of real people who could only move for very few hours of the day in fear of being caught my one of the thousands of soldiers hunting for anyone of their kind. Unlike any other recent performances, this is the story of how eight real people eventually met their untimely capture.
“Anne Frank is definitely something you need to get yourself into the right mindset for. [For example], it’s not at all a show like Annie in the Essenes that, while Annie was guaranteed to bring a smile to your face, Anne Frank can be emotionally exhausting,” Pontius explained. The cast knew right from the beginning how much preparation this would take, as many cast members went to the Museum of Tolerance to learn more about the characters they would be portraying along with the general situation. The work these actors put into learning their characters shows right through every word they say or move they make throughout the performance.
One actor who impressed was senior Lilly Leif, through her portrayal of Mrs. Van Daan. While not having the most lines, she made every line count. The comedic relief Leif shows as Mrs. Van Daan is a much-needed aspect of the show, as it gives a break from the sorrow and depression of the situation. This is something Leif knew from the very beginning.
“Her comedic relief is really important to the show because it allows the audience to take a breath from all the sorrow and seriousness from the situation. I think when most people have heard that Falcon Players is doing The diary of Anne Frank, their reaction is somewhat uneasy because they know the story behind it. But when you examine it and really get to know what’s happening there are a lot of comedic elements to it because when it comes down to it, it’s just these two families that really don’t always get along with big personalities that clash. This show is incredibly powerful and had the ability to really move people and I’m excited for that,” Leif said. The battles between her husband and just about everyone else in the annex is usually followed by a brilliantly timed line from Mrs. Van Daan, which turns this show into two hours of a moving story, into a two hour story that has many other entertaining facets to it.
The actors are not the only people who did their research, as the set also looks incredibly realistic, immediately making the audience feel claustrophobic due to the clatter and stacking of furniture. It shows how much privacy(or lack thereof) these people actually had from each other.
While most people would question the relevance of Anne Frank in today’s world, these actors know how strong of a message they are sharing with the world.
“The diary is so important because it acts as a reminder of everything that happened in the Holocaust so that we’ll never forget. It’s morals about racism, discrimination, and optimism are still relevant in today’s day and age,” Travis pointed out. Racism and discrimination are two things that still resonate with every in America today. Vargas, who plays Anne’s father Mr. Van Daan, believes it resonates with high school students on a different level in addition to showing these problems that still survive in today’s world.
“We see a relatable teenager struggling to grow up and become her own person, in the environment of World War Two, she brings that situation to a humbling and relatable level that everyone can understand,” explained Vargas.
The Diary Of Anne Frank is not like other plays CVHS has put on, but it stands among the best done in recent years. The cast is brilliant, the chorus adds an extraordinary element with its background hymns, and the message it shows us makes this a play anyone and everyone should see.
Performances are in CV’s MacDonald Auditorium on Thursday and Friday (8/6 and 8/7) at 7pm and Saturday (8/8) at 2pm and 7pm. Tickets are 12 dollars for adults and eight dollars for students.