Laguna Blanca Stages a New Version of the Anne Frank Story
by Spencer Klavan
Anne Frank. Ever since her diary was published in 1947, the world has looked upon that name as a symbol of tragedy and hope, of fear and redemption. Her story, one of a bright, vivacious, and terrified girl hiding from an impossibly horrific world, has captured and broken the hearts of millions. Her diaries have been published in more than 50 languages, and in 1955 they were made into a successful play. Now Anne Frank’s tale is coming to Laguna Blanca School in a way it has never been seen or heard before. Not since the Broadway success of Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett’s 1955 play version of the Diary of Anne Frank has there been an entirely new dramatic rendition of Frank’s memoir.
Written by James Still, And Then They Came for Me attempts to bring Anne Frank’s diary fully into the 21st century for the benefit of another generation of people. It adds to the original drama material concerning Frank’s relations, love interests, and dearest friends. It details the lives of those who came into contact with her for a few brief moments before their world was turned upside-down. Director Peter McCorkle and his cast of 16 are thus setting out to tell the story of Anne Frank onstage in a new way.
Another way in which this show differs from the sparse 1955 version is that And Then They Came for Me is a multimedia experience, incorporating video footage of Eva Geiringer Schloss, Anne’s good friend, and Helmuth Silberberg, her crush and love interest, as they are today. As Eva and Helmuth (who has since changed his name to Ed) tell their stories, their youthful counterparts emerge onstage and embody the action. The performance is augmented with a new musical score, played continuously.
Anne is played by sophomore Melina Hayum, who debuted in last year’s musical tragedy, Blood Brothers. Melissa Schmitt is Eva and Mitchell Bogatz is Helmuth. Kameron Tarlow plays Eva’s sensitive, talented, and ill-fated brother, Heinz, while Spencer Klavan and Joanna Bourrain portray Anne’s parents. Christian Handley and Felicia Palmer appear as Helmuth’s father and mother.
Of course, no show as technological and complex as And Then They Came for Me would be complete without its tech crew. Ashton Krebs and senior Colin Mattingly will handle the lights and music, both of which are full-time jobs in a show this technically complex. Assisting them will be the entire Laguna Blanca Theatre II class.
So it seems certain that Laguna is set to deliver another heart-wrencher. At 7 p.m. on November 15, the Spaulding Auditorium doors will open to the poignant and touching world of Anne Frank, in a way few have ever experienced. Santa Barbara will be shocked, captivated, and enthralled by And Then They Came for Me, which Judith Klein of the Jewish Journal said “struck me as no production of The Diary of Anne Frank ever has.”
4•1•1 Laguna Blanca’s production of And Then They Came for Me runs from Wednesday, November 15 to Sunday, November 19. Showtimes are at 7 p.m., with the Sunday show at 2 p.m. Spaulding Auditorium, Laguna Blanca School, 4125 Paloma Drive. Tickets are $10 at the door. For more information call 687-2461.