Central Brings Anne Frank's Diary to Life

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Byline: Ann Piccininni Daily Herald Correspondent

The cast of Naperville Central's production of "The Diary of Anne Frank" will spend a lot of time on stage this weekend.

In fact, most of the high school actors will remain in front of the audience for the entire show, either in the spotlight or off to the side, behind an imaginary wall.

The staging is a subtle reminder that the Frank family and their fellow fugitives, hiding from Nazis in an Amsterdam attic during World War II, were confined to a small universe, director and faculty adviser Tom Ulbrich said.

"They've been innocents imprisoned for two years," Ulbrich said.

The show, based on a true story, is set to open tonight for a three-performance run.

Anne Frank was just 13 when she and her family went into hiding and she began chronicling events in her diary, Ulbrich said. Her diary later was made into a book, a movie and a play.

"This was a little girl who spoke so eloquently in her diary and who had such a strong message," Ulbrich said.

The title role is played by freshman Jackie Hoffman. Ulbrich said such weighty roles usually go to upperclassmen, but Hoffman's suitability for the part warranted an exception.

"In auditions, she just sounded perfect," he said.

"I just feel so honored to play her," said Hoffman. "She was so amazing and she wrote down everything."

Hoffman said the part requires the memorization of many lines, but the real challenge is "feeling" the role.

"She has to cry a lot because she's very emotional," she said.

Senior Natalie Mueller plays Anne's mother, Edith.

Mueller sees Edith as the opposite of Anne's outspoken personality.

"She's very soft-spoken. She's a very loving mother, but pretty traditional," Mueller said.

Clashes between the two often result in some of the play's most emotionally charged moments, she said.

"Their differences lead to a lot of tender moments that hit home automatically," she said. …