Fairmont actors seek to transport audience to 1942 via Anne Frank’s ‘Diary’


Photo: Jazzmine Brown

Cast members Alex Brandt, Adam Duffy, Michelle Holder and Rebecca Friedmann (L to R) of “The Diary of Anne Frank” do some warm-up exercises to get loose before they begin practice for the fall play.

The Diary of Anne Frank is a tragic tale of a girl growing up in one of the darkest periods of history: the Holocaust. This November, a group of Fairmont actors will try to transport audiences back in time to 1942 to help them understand Frank’s story of fear and sadness.

Frank was a 13-year-old Jewish girl trapped in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam in 1942. When they feared for their safety, Frank’s family joined two other families in some concealed rooms in the building where her father had worked. While there, Frank recorded her thoughts in a diary her father had given her for a present.

Play Director Darren McGarvey said he had many plays to choose from this year, but The Diary of Anne Frank stuck with him. “It came to me at the last minute, but when it occurred to me, I knew it was the one I wanted to do,” he said.

Though McGarvey isn’t an expert on Anne Frank, the story still moves him. “I think I know about as much as anyone else. I never read the book, but I know the story well enough,” he said. “Working on this play with the students is teaching and making me love this story even more.”

On the other hand, senior Alex Brandt has vast knowledge of the play and Frank’s story. “I’ve read the book many times, and I’ve seen the play many times as well. I love this play, and I’m very happy to be a part of it,” said Brandt, who plays Mr. Van Daan, the father of one of the families.

Brandt said his role is helping him expand his horizons in acting. “I love the part that I’m playing right now,” he said. “I usually play the good father who’s kind to his family. But this time the father isn’t kind at all to his family, and it gives me a new character to play.”

McGarvey wants not only the audience but the actors to feel and understand the play. “The play shows the relationships the families formed and the hardships they went through in a time where their country was thrown into turmoil,” he said. “Even before we act, we try to connect the story to our lives so we don’t go on the stage and have to fake emotion.”

Student Director Mark Fader wants the audience to leave the auditorium with a strong understanding of the story. “We’re trying to make the audience feel like they are living in the Holocaust and, like Anne, hiding from the outside world,” the senior said.

McGarvey thinks the actors’ extra effort to feel the terror and pain of their characters will help sweep the audience into the sad story. “I think if we make the acting real, it will come across to the audience,” he said. “Anne’s story is a tragic universal one that can be understood by many generations.”

If the cast members get their way, there won’t be a dry eye in the house. “I’m not going to spoil anything, but the ending will make people cry, I guarantee it,” Fader said.

Brandt also expects the play will really move the audience, as he has been moved himself. “Every time I watch it, I have to hold back tears,” he said.

Brandt said he enjoys his time acting and working on the play with the rest of the cast and crew. “I love being around all my fellow students working on this play. We become a family through it, and it will make me very sad when I have to leave.”

Fader, who co-directs the fall play with senior Sarah Bauman, noted that many new students are involved in the production. “I’m one of them actually. I don’t have any huge aspirations; I don’t think I want to be a director in the future,” he said. “If anything, I’d like to be a writer, but it’s something new for me and it’s really fun to be around theater people. It’s my favorite part of the day.”

McGarvey’s excited about new students taking an interest in theater. “It’s really my goal to find new talent for every play,” he said.

Sophomore Maddie Schroll stars as Anne Frank in the play; her understudy is sophomore Christi Dyer. The performance of The Diary of Anne Frank is at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 14-16. Tickets are $5 for students and $8 for adults.

“People should come check it out,” Fader said. “These guys are working really hard.”