With plywood and two-by-fours strewn across the stage, a time-honored process is under way at Holliston High as Theatre 370 continues preparations for its four-show, three-night run of "The Diary of Anne Frank."
Theatre 370 will be putting on 7:30 p.m. performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in addition to a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Saturday. All shows are in the HHS auditorium.
The Diary of Anne Frank was adapted for the stage in 1959 by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett from the Frank's original notes, which were compiled and published by an Amsterdam firm in 1947. The play chronicles the lives of Frank and her family as they spent two years in hiding during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.
Widely regarded as one of the finest books of the 20th century, Frank's diary inspired Goodrich and Hackett's Tony Award-winning play, which also won the 1956 Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Goodrich and Hackett also wrote the screenplay for the 1959 movie version.
Theatre 370 and director Brian Hickey will again be taking a unique approach to heightening the crowd experience, altering the stage and expanding seating in some areas. For the past eight or so years, the spring play, as opposed to the fall musical, has been done as a black box theater production. Everything from the pit to the back of the room will be walled off. The front of the stage will be equipped with risers and there will be more seats to the side, allowing up to 120 audeience members for the three intimate nights.
Hickey, who is also the drama department director in HHS, wants the audience to be ushered into the black box enclosure through a bookcase, making the play’s immediate dramatics apparent. The set construction is currently in the early phases.
Hickey explained how they’re designing a cut-away interior of the house, with all rooms visible in a scaled-down size. And like in "The Sound of Music" this fall, the cast members will help rearrange the set as the two-act play moves forward.
A few of the cast members are first-timers to the high school stage, but both Hickey and Nate Burket, playing a leading role as Mr. Frank, have high hopes for the production. Hickey said he needs to concentrate the “organized chaos” into focused, human moments between cast members while fostering the right amount of drama.
“When I was designing this, I looked online to see the actual Anne Frank house and I wanted the audience to feel that experience," said Hickey, emphasizing a desire for the audience to feel the claustrophobia of being trapped in a small space. "Anne isn’t there sometimes and we hear her voice, you can see and hear everything. We wanted a more immediate, overpowering feeling.
“The Sound of Music is the closest I’ve ever come to nailing the visions I’ve had," added Hickey. "I have these ideas in my head set-wise. Sometimes, we’re able to let go and rely on telling the story. They (the cast members) bring the set to life, the set doesn’t bring them to life.”
Unlike for "The Sound of Music," for which a high-class backdrop was shipped in from around the world, this set is all original innovation. In many renditions, there’s a belfry featured in the background, but Hickey’s eschewing that for this production to get, what he believes, will be a more genuine feeling.
The cast is a 10-member ensemble with Jinny Pollinger playing the lead as Anne Frank. Burket will star as Mr. Frank with Hannah Fried-Tanzer as Mrs. Frank, Nick Ciavarra as Peter, Maddie Murphy as Margot, Ariel Holman as Mrs. van Daan, Bobbi Glasier as Mr. van Daan, Drew Volmer as Mr. Dussel, Meg Lacey as Miep and Andrew Mades as Mr. Kraler.
Tickets for the show are $12. For more information or to reserve tickets, call Hickey at 508-429-0677, ext. 5107.