The North Canton Playhouse is taking a break from musicals to present a popular—and true—drama.
This month, the playhouse will stage “The Diary of Anne Frank.” The play is based on the book “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl,” which has been translated into more than 70 languages.
The well-known book is a compilation of diary entries written by teenage Anne while she spent two years hiding from Nazis with her family in a secret annex in Amsterdam. The entries talk about what life was like before moving to the annex and about what happened from day to day in hiding.
Anne’s family was discovered in the summer of 1944, and she was sent to a concentration camp. After the war, her father returned to Amsterdam and retrieved her diaries. The book, which is composed of excerpts from the diaries, was published in 1947, two years after Anne died.
In the play, the action focuses on the daily occurrences in the annex—cooking dinner, dancing, arguing. Anne alternately narrates, as though she’s reading passages from her diary, and participates in dialogue with the other characters.
The play ends with Anne’s father, Otto, retrieving her diary years later, after the home has been raided and his daughters have died after being sent to concentration camps.
“Obviously, the subject matter is very hard to wrap your head around,” said Ted Paynter, who both directs the North Canton production and plays Otto Frank. “You can’t help but think about parallels in today’s world.”
While the playhouse for many years has been known for its youth-based, lighthearted musicals, Paynter said he thought a more serious show would be a good challenge for the young, talented actors. Most of the cast members already have read the book or brought in other material they’ve researched about their characters.
The play is a nod to the playhouse’s past, when the theater performed nonmusical dramas and comedies with adult actors. Paynter said the upcoming production features some parents who originally were drawn to the playhouse because their children were in the musicals and that the intention is to continue to work similar productions into future seasons.
“The Diary of Anne Frank” runs October 3 to 13 at the North Canton Playhouse’s South Main Street Stage (1210 S Main Street, North Canton). Tickets are $15 and are available via the playhouse’s website or by calling 330-494-1613.