The annual Martensville High School theatrical production once again saw three nights of a sold out audience and those attending witnessed an amazing show. This year’s performance was ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’, the story about 13 year old Anne Frank, who along with numerous others, spent two years hiding from the Nazi’s in Amsterdam during World War II. The production is based on the writing of Frank, who documented her experience throughout their time in hiding within her personal diary, gifted to her by her father.
The stage was accurately designed to depict the small loft in which Anne, her sister Margot, their parents Otto and Edith, Mr. Hermann Van Daan, his wife Petronella and son Peter along with Mr. Jan Dussel lived throughout the two years. With numerous rooms that were key to the heartfelt and stressful moments between characters, the focus shifted from room to room. Those not in the current spotlight stayed true to their character, interacting silently amongst each other, adding to the integrity of the day to day life the characters were facing; whether in conversation with one another, playing games, cooking, cleaning, reading, etc. each cast member stayed in character throughout the entire two hour performance.
The cast consisted of ten students from MHS, who each took careful time and consideration in their portrayal of the characters. Grace Flegel, who played the young Frank, displayed a wide range of emotion and took the audience on a journey of a 13 year old girl who brought life into the dreary circumstances they were forced into and from there to the age of 15, where Anne shows much maturity and tenderness. Anne’s father Otto, who was represented by Brendan Butler, was often the calming voice of reason within the close quarters in which the eight people lived for those long years. Edith Frank (Cassidy Funk) and Margot Frank (Avery Smith), both brought a quiet, supportive sweetness to the stage, often seen in the kitchen ensuring everyone was fed fairly during times where food was running low. Funk did a fantastic job portraying a women struggling as a mother to build a relationship with her teenage daughter under such extraordinary stress. Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan, played by Steven Baldwin and Katherine Daku often created awkward moments among the rest of their housemates as they bickered back and forth, while their quiet withdrawn son Peter, (Connor Hamelin) often kept to himself, wanting only to spend time in his room with his cat before building a bond with Anne, who at one point questions to herself if she has replaced the cat. An additional member of the household comes in Jan Dussel, played by Dylan Berk, who Anne was forced to share her room with. Dussel was often irritable, but had moments of rationality and humour. The only news from the outside world came from Mr. Victor Kraler (Noah Fehr) and Miep Gies (Greta Strueby), who would bring supplies for the eight in hiding.
The entire play is based on excerpts from Anne’s diary, which is returned to her father, the only survivor of the eight after the loft is taken by Nazi soldiers and all residents are taken to various concentration camps.
Under the direction of MHS teacher Micah Robinson, the entire audience was taken to a time of hardship, but also got to share in moments of tenderness. As the play ended each cast member displayed a real life photo of each character and as the lights came on, many in the crowd had tears in their eyes as the emotion seeped off of the stage into the theatre.
For those that have had the opportunity to take part in one of these incredible productions, it is clear the amount of work that goes into each performance, not only by the cast, but by all involved behind the scenes. The students of the Commercial Cooking 20 class taught by Della Muench, put much care into each dessert available at the performances, providing decadent options for all attending.
With thought already going into next year’s production, one thing is for certain, the teachers and students at MHS are not short on talent.