‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ is Coming to The Players Club of Swarthmore

The cast of “The Diary of Anne Frank” at the Players Club of Swarthmore does a read-through of the script. (Photo by Jennifer Brown)

“The Diary of Anne Frank,” the play based on the famous book, “The Diary of a Young Girl,” is coming to the Players Club of Swarthmore from April 19-May 4, according to pcstheater.org.

During the run, Tamanend Middle School in Warrington (Central Bucks) will rent the 300-seat theater for a weekday performance. Jessica Gollin, the 19-year-old playing Anne Frank, wants to make sure she conveys a clear impression to impressionable students.

“I just want everyone to realize that Anne Frank was a kid,” said Gollin, who is Jewish. “She was a 13-year-old, and by the end of her life she was only 15.”

Tamanend is the only school so far that has booked a date for students to see the play. But the show’s marketing committee, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and other Jewish organizations are in contact with other schools, according to Joel Rosenwasser, the director.

“Most people don’t know the story. They hear about the Holocaust and learn about it. But they don’t know the essence,” Rosenwasser said. “Most of these people were everyday people and just dealing with daily life.”

Glen Macnow, the longtime sports talk radio host on WIP, is acting in the play as Mr. van Daan, the father of the other family that lives in the attic with the Franks. The sports radio host is Jewish, and he believes the show is important for two reasons.

The Holocaust “is going further and further back in the rearview mirror,” he said. It also “must not be compared to anything going on in the world today.”

“People toss the word genocide out lightly these days,” he said.

Gollin agrees. The Cherry Hill resident believes that the war between Israel and Hamas is making people forget the Holocaust.

“The generational trauma that has been woven into our DNA. People are just forgetting that,” she said. “And I think that’s why there’s so much Jewish hate right now.”

The cast of “The Diary of Anne Frank” at the Players Club of Swarthmore
(Photo by Jennifer Brown)

Rosenwasser, a jewelry manufacturer who lives in Dresher, got a history lesson in that trauma when he visited five concentration camps in 1977. He was on a trip to Eastern Europe with United Synagogue Youth, the youth organization for Conservative Judaism.

He saw Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic and Treblinka and Auschwitz in Poland. There were still ashes in the backs of the ovens, according to Rosenwasser. And in Auschwitz, there was a gift shop. The guy manning it was a Jewish survivor with his tattoo of his number on his arm.

“There’s always a reason to remember the Holocaust,” he said.

Rosenwasser’s father sent him on that journey with an eight-millimeter camera. The young man recorded much of what he saw and compiled it into a film reel. After he got back, he started showing the reel at synagogues.

“Being a Holocaust educator is partly why I’m so enamored with the Anne Frank story,” he said.

In 1985 while living in Dallas, Rosenwasser acted in “The Diary of Anne Frank” at a Jewish Community Center. Later while living in New York, he trained for acting at HB Studio. But then he didn’t act again until moving to the Philadelphia area in the early 2000s. In 2004, Rosenwasser restarted the Temple Sinai Players.

He’s been acting in and directing local plays ever since. While he never got a chance to perform “Anne Frank” again, he would always attend whenever it was running somewhere in the region. He had yet to see a performance that he felt lent itself “to the original essence of the show.”

“The Diary of Anne Frank” was transformed into a play in 1955. It opened on Broadway in October of that year, ran for more than 700 performances and won the Tony Award for Best Play.

“What’s special about this play is that it personifies the mass destruction of a race of people by bringing it down to those eight people living in the attic,” Macnow said. “You see them as real people. They’re family members who love each other and have arguments.”

Or as Gollin said of Anne Frank: “She wasn’t this sophisticated woman. She tried to be. And by the end of her life, she was close. But she was a child. She acted like a child. She wanted child-like attention. She’s just a kid trying to live her life, and that life was brutally halted.”

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