Local theater performs classic story

Hannah Fowl/The News Actors rehearse for Playhouse in the Park’s upcoming production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.”
Hannah Fowl/The News Actors rehearse for Playhouse in the Park’s upcoming production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

Hannah Fowl/The News
Actors rehearse for Playhouse in the Park’s upcoming production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

Students on the prowl for out-of-the-ordinary weekend activities should look no further than the Murray-Calloway County Playhouse in the Park’s upcoming showings of “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

The production is a new adaptation of the diary kept by historical icon Anne Frank during the Nazi occupation of Norway in World War II.

The production will run for two weekends, from March 20-22 and March 27-29, in the Murray-Calloway County Park. The Friday and Saturday shows will begin at 7 p.m. and the Sunday shows at 2:30 p.m. Student tickets are $9.

“Anne Frank emerges from history a living, lyrical, intensely gifted young girl who confronts her rapidly changing life and the increasing horror of her time with astonishing honesty, wit and determination,” according to the Playhouse in the Park’s website. “An impassioned drama about the lives of eight people hiding from the Nazis in a concealed storage attic, (the play) captures the claustrophobic realities of their daily existence – their fear, their hope, their laughter, their grief.”

Wendy Waltrip, the Murray High School student who will portray Frank, is excited about the opportunity because the role seems like a natural fit, she said.

“I love Anne because she’s a lot like me in a lot of different ways because she loves to write, and I love to write – I write books – and she loves to act and I love to act, and a weird one is that she loves Greek and Roman mythology, and I do, too,” Waltrip said. “I found a lot of similarities between us and I’m really looking forward to bringing her to life and portraying her for other people.”

Waltrip, a 16-year-old sophomore, will take on the part of Frank, who ages two years throughout the story, under the direction of Donald Fleming. Fleming is well-acquainted with directing, as this will be his 14th production. He’s excited over his most recent project because the audience already knows the characters.

“When you’re reading the script, you kind of hear in your head what you think the characters might sound like, but then when the actual actors are reading it, it just opens up this whole new dimension,” Fleming said. “It’s really wonderful.”

Waltrip is also no stranger to the stage. She started acting when she was 3 years old, and has had roles in more than 25 plays so far, including several leading parts in plays like “Aristocats” and “Best Christmas Pageants,” which was also performed for local elementary schools.

Playhouse in the Park has an ongoing relationship with local schools, as it has put on shows that are based on books that are often used in course curricula, such as “Charlotte’s Web” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

“The Diary of Anne Frank” was initially only booked to be performed for Murray and Calloway elementary schools in addition to its public performances, but once rehearsals started, Graves and Lyon county schools jumped on the bandwagon and will also attend showings of the production.

Waltrip and Fleming urge students and community members not to be discouraged from coming because of the ending.

“It’s built as a story of hope and it really is,” Fleming said. “It has that upbeat tone all through the play that makes it kind of a feel-good thing which is also kind of a set-up for the end. But it’s a good look at life – the struggles they go through, the happy times and they have the bad times and the tensions, the relaxed times and just the fact that these eight people are all living in this one small space and literally tripping over each other.”

Story by Kayla MacAllisterStaff writer