Anne Frank, the musical

It’s true: A musical version of
The Diary of Anne Frank
will hit the
stage
in Madrid
next month. And that is a first. Although the story of the
Jewish girl who hid with her family from the Nazi occupation in Amsterdam
has been depicted in theater and in film, it’s never been told in song.

I’ll give them one thing:

Isabella Castillo, the 13-year-old Cuban-born girl who will play
Anne Frank, is absolutely adorable. And she has spoken of the moving
experience of visiting Anne Frank’s house and the Anne Frank Foundation.
Here she is in front of the Anne Frank tree.

And it is impressive that the
musical’s producers even have the blessings of The Anne Frank Foundation.
Those are the same people who once rejected Steven Spielberg.

So I’ve been trying to convince
myself that this musical isn’t a horrendous idea. It’s a little
difficult, because I grew up on the film adaptations of Rodgers and Hammerstein
(and occasionally Gilbert and Sullivan) musicals. The Sound
of Music
and just about anything starring Julie Andrews were probably
the most frequently played in my house, resulting in arguably poor taste
in musical theater but also a lifelong crush on Julie Andrews.
Though, come to think of it, Victor/Victoria was conspicuously
abesnt from the family collection.

It’s possible this has warped my perspective
a touch. Even if I can buy a story line about murderous convicts in a social satire like Chicago, I can also sympathize
with my mother, who was a little appalled by numbers like "Cell
Block Tango.” It’s just not “My Favorite Things.”

Then again, I’m waiting impatiently
to see Sweeney Todd, which will be released in Australia next week.
And yes, I do know that razor is not just for shaving.

But somehow, a musical about a little
girl who lives a lonely and isolated life, only to end up dying in a
concentration camp, seems an even worse idea than “Springtime for
Hitler
.”
I think it’s because her story is a true one. Imagine her diary
entries and internal monologues reduced to a soundtrack. But at
the same time, hers is a story worth telling. And the Anne Frank
Foundation promises, "This production respects the message of tolerance,
within the tragedy, that we want to keep alive.” Fair enough.
I’ll be interested to hear the reviews for this one.

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