The year is 1945 and the war is approaching its end. “Anne, a new play rediscovering Anne Frank,” now in its run at the Museum of Tolerance, starts out with an idealistic, wishful thinking scene, where Anne (Ava Lalezarzadeh) and Margot (Marnina Schon) are chatting via telephone; Anne at a cosmopolitan French cafe, in hopes of finding a publisher, and Margot in Israel.
Rewind: back to reality, where the family is in hiding under the kindness of Miep Gies (Mary Gordon Murray), in her attic in Amsterdam, where Anne is determined to write her heart out to her best friend, her diary, which becomes the legacy of this most complex, compassionate young woman, living with the horrors, heartbreak of grief in Nazi occupied Amsterdam, not surviving to live her dream. Of the entire family, only Otto (Rob Brownstein) survives, and miraculously captures his daughter’s diary for the world to know her story, her dreams, fears, and ideals as a youth, wise beyond her years. Ava portrays Anne as the morally complex, intelligent woman, with precision and impeccable range of emotion. The story is unique, in that it not only shows Anne Frank as a symbol of hope, goodness, and persistence, but also reveals the playful, mischievous, precocious side of Anne as a teen, flirting with Peter van Pels (Kevin Matsumoto), also in hiding. Producer Suzi Dietz and director Eve Brandstein deliver this story with grace and sensitivity, not leaving one dry eye in the house. The ensemble performs so cohesively to present an intimate portrait of the interactions and day to day tension of the families Frank and van Pels, along with Jan Pfeffer (Tony DeCarlo). I would encourage families to see the show (both adults and pre-teens and up); as it’s a beautiful rendering of a coming of age story of family bonding, and never ending hope for survival and redemption. The play reveals Anne’s most famous line, “I keep my ideals, because, in spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart.” Brownstein is a solid constant as Otto, consistently in every scene, as he encourages his daughters to write, dream, and never give up; he consoles his distraught wife, Edith (Andrea Gwynnel); appeases and humors Mr. van Pels (Aylam Orian).
Perhaps, the most unique twist is actually having the publisher present (Timothy Brown), who develops a close knit connection to Anne and Otto and pledges to forever tell this story. Lalezarzadeh is truly a standout, and shines throughout the show, as a bubbly Anne, yet also reveals her contemplative, serious side, indicative of acting at its finest. Each cast member gives a memorable performance, creating each character’s legacy and imprint on us all. Leaves the audience in awe of this courageous, heroic group of people. A must see, especially in today’s world in which we live, with the resurgence of racism, anti-semitism, and senseless intolerance.
Through Aug 4th. Museum of Tolerance
9786 W. Pico
Sundays 3pm and 7 pm; Mondays 8 pm
(310) 772-2505 http://www.museumoftolerance.com