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WaterTower impresses with ‘Anne Frank’

By Chase Wade

By Chase Wade

By Chase Wade–>

Email: cdwade@smu.edu

Published: Thursday, January 19, 2012

Updated: Thursday, January 19, 2012 23:01

  • Addison’s WaterTower Theatre isn’t particularly known for its hard-hitting, heavy subject plays.

    The always-consistent playhouse leans toward the lighter side of plays and shows for the bulk of its season.

    However, in their new show, “The Diary of Anne Frank,” WaterTower Theatre tackles the classic holocaust story of a young girl’s tale of hiding in the attic of her father’s shop, hoping to avoid the Nazi regime.

    Directed by Terri Martin, WaterTower’s retelling of one of the world’s most well known stories is an honest and accurate staged play that has moments touching both sides of the emotional spectrum.

    Playing the title character is Molly Franco.

    Franco’s portrayal of Anne is much giddier than one would think.

    Franco easily captures the spirit of a young care free child and uses it to propel her role on stage.

    However, Frano has to be careful not to seem too kid like.

    At times, Franco’s Anne seems a tad too childish but when the actress needs to be serious, Franco bears down and delivers.

    With a wide grin and hurricane-like gestures, Franco prances her way around stage capturing the audience’s heart with every light step.

    While Franco may be the star, a number of her supporting cast members shine as well.

    Travis Tope delivers a solid performance playing Peter Van Daan, Anne’s romantic interest that develops while in the attic.

    For someone so young, Tope shows maturity and refinement in his line delivery and timing.

    Tope, a recent graduate of Plano West High School, possesses the acting abilities that people ten years his elder don’t have.

    Another standout comes through Tope’s one stage mom, Mrs. Van Daan, played by Lucia A. Welch.

    Welch does a fine job playing the attic’s most pampered tenant.

    She’s funny when she needs to be, but can be serious in a snap.

    Martin’s direction is precise with this play as he blends the use of light, sound and stage to make a show about a diary feel as personal as a diary should be.

    Particularly good moments come when the stage goes black and a lone spotlight is shone on Franco as she delivers sometimes-chilling readings of Anne’s diary.

    Credit is due to the stage designer, Clare Floyd Devries, who constructed an open, yet somehow intimate, stage that works seamlessly as the family’s hideaway.

    In one of the most abrupt change in emotion that this critic has ever seen, the play concludes with the family’s eventual capture.

    Stan Graner, who plays Anne’s father Otto Frank, delivers a mournal monologue commemorating the ones he lost to the hand of the Nazis.This is perhaps the play’s most chilling moment.

    As a whole, WaterTower’s “Anne Frank” is a solid staged play that ultimately plays tribute to the human spirit and the good and evil it can be capable of.

    With a solid cast, great direction and an interesting stage, “The Diary of Anne Frank” is the perfect piece for WaterTower to ring in the New Year.

    “The Diary of Anne Frank” runs until Jan. 29 at the WaterTower Theater in Addison, Texas. 

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