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Anne Frank’s story told on Perry stage

Jamie Stricklen, as Anne Frank, and Chad Sylvester, as Mr. van Daan, rehearse a scene from “The Diary of Anne Frank” at the Perry Players theater last week.
Jamie Stricklen, as Anne Frank, and Chad Sylvester, as Mr. van Daan, rehearse a scene from “The Diary of Anne Frank” at the Perry Players theater last week. jvorhees@macon.com

Anne Frank lived in fear for her life because of her religion.

Her story of hiding from the Nazis is brought to the stage by Perry Players in the play “The Diary of Anne Frank,” which is based on her writings.

Directing this particular play was on Don Boyd’s bucket list.

“As a historian, I am attached to shows like this,” he said.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Anne’s death. She was 13 years old when she died.

Boyd double cast the part of Anne and her older sister, Margot. Playing Anne are Jamie Stricklen and Hanna Kemp. The part of Margot is played by Anna Buckroth and Jillian Birdsong.

Neither Jamie nor Hanna have had a part this big in a play.

Jamie, a ninth-grader at Houston County High School, and Hanna, a home-schooled eighth-grader, became friends during an acting summer camp.

When the pair saw the audition list for a 13-year-old girl, they jumped at the opportunity.

“This is it. This is my chance,” Hanna said.

It isn’t easy playing the part of a girl when one knows her terrible fate in the end.

“We’ve read the script a million times and we still cry,” Jamie said.

The play is set in the attic where Anne and her family live with another family, the Van Daans and a local dentist named Mr. Dussel, played by Jim Strickland.

While inside the attic, tensions are high and Anne seeks escape by writing in her diary.

“Who can I turn to? Only my diary,” Anne’s character says.

A radio on stage keeps the family informed of what is going on in the world outside. The BBC broadcast tells the families that everywhere in Europe, Jewish families are disappearing. Mothers are being separated from children, families are taken in the night.

“Many are waiting for death,” Anne wrote in her diary.

The play is important for a variety of reasons, Boyd said.

The play, which won a Tony Award for best drama in 1959, gives the audience a chance to feel, in a small way, what it was like for a person of Jewish faith to live in Europe during World War II in that attic in Holland. And it is a reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust.

“It is a powerful tool that we keep our vigilance. We live in a day and age where that potential is right around the corner,” Boyd said.

He hopes the play will make that point to the audience.

The version of the play the Perry group is performing is based on a 1997 rewrite that brings the religion of the families to the forefront as well as exploring Anne’s sexuality, Boyd said.

When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 11-12, 18-19, 25-26; 2:30 p.m. Sept. 13 and 20

Where: Perry Players, 909 Main St., Perry

Cost: $15 adults, $12 children 4-18 and $12 seniors and military

Information, 478-987-5354; www.perryplayers.org

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