Longtin to bring Kesselman’s Anne Frank to Dibden

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Longtin to bring Kesselman’s Anne Frank to Dibden

Mariah Howland

Professor of Performing Arts Russ Longtin

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The Nazis. The Gestapo. The Holocaust. The sheer terror of a young woman’s first period. Two families crammed into one attic for two years. The irrepressible will of an adolescent’s first love. The horror of a light snuffed out too soon.

This fall the JSC theater department will tackle all the forces that make “The Diary of Anne Frank” the quintessential tragedy of the 20th Century.

But, according to director and Professor of Performing Arts Russ Longtin, JSC has already presented a play based on the world famous diary nearly 20 years ago. So why would he choose to readdress the material?

“Well, for one thing it’s an entirely different play, written by Wendy Kesselman, and the newer script more closely presents Anne Frank as she presented herself,” he said.

“The dirty laundry’s up in the public in this one. In the other one they hid everything,” said Longtin.

He went on to explain that Kesselman met a very young Natalie Portman while writing this newer version, and she decided to craft the role of Anne with her in mind.

“Natalie did it on Broadway for a year, I think maybe nine years ago,” said Longtin. “She was just starting to make it big. From that to Black Swan. Really intense.”

Longtin cited having a large number of talented theater majors as another reason he chose this script: “I have really, really great kids right now. I have more than I’ve had in a long time who are gifted… so this is cake for me.”

The role of Anne is more challenging than in the earlier, more sanitized play. “She’s selfish in this one. In the other one she was just a sweet girl who was in need of protection,” said Longtin. “She’s more human than she is in the earlier one.”

Longtin has cast Sam Kilbride for the lead role. Also cast are: Marcus Provost as Otto Frank, Alijah Gauthier as Edith Frank, and Danielle Godjikian as Margot Frank.

“(The play is) very well cast,” said Godjikian, before adding [referring to Director Russ Longtin], ”It’s a Russ show; so it’s going to be a tear jerker.”

Longtin has put Ethan McGovern in charge of lights, and Liz Spier in charge of costuming.

The entire play takes place in one setting, an attic in Amsterdam during World War II. The set designer for the production, Adam Higley, acknowledged the challenge of designing a single set, authentic to the times and circumstance that will allow the players to bring the scenes to life.

The play runs in Dibden Oct.31 to Nov.3.

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