‘There is a lot of courage in the story’

Farmington Players to present ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published February 9, 2016

 Actor Gary Weinstein, of Farmington Hills, embraces actress Nancy Cooper during “The Diary of Anne Frank” play rehearsal.

Actor Gary Weinstein, of Farmington Hills, embraces actress Nancy Cooper during “The Diary of Anne Frank” play rehearsal.

Photo provided by Jan Cartwright

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FARMINGTON HILLS — Many people know the story of Anne Frank.

That understanding inspired Maureen Mansfield, of Farmington Hills, to tell others a message she has held dear since her youth.

As the director of an upcoming drama, “The Diary of Anne Frank,” Mansfield said she wanted to do a fresh take on the classic story of courage.

“I have seen (Anne Frank dramas) that never rang true to me, (and) having done a lot of research on it … I’m doing things a little bit different — hoping to put a little more truth in it,” Mansfield said. “There is a lot of courage in the story.”

The Farmington Players will present the drama by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, newly adapted by Wendy Kesselman, Feb. 12-March 5 at the Farmington Players Barn, 32332 W. 12 Mile Road.

This play’s version incorporates writings from Frank’s diary together with survivor accounts to create a story of people driven by hope. It is designed to feature the undefeated human spirit, according to a press release.

Mansfield said the play reaches her on a personal level as the director, and also as someone who is Jewish.

“My family’s history is intertwined with the Holocaust,” Mansfield said in a press release. “When I first read ‘The Diary of a Young Girl,’ by Anne Frank, it helped me understand what my family had been through. It somehow made me feel closer to them.”

She added that reading the book as a preteen made her feel connected to Frank.

“It was always something that wasn’t really talked about a whole lot, and I felt like I understood more after I read her story and really connected to it,” she said. “(I) always wanted to direct it, and (it) never came across my path until now.”

Mansfield said that when she told people she was going to direct the drama, they would say they read Frank’s book or could relate to her story in some way.

“Everybody had a story about it,” Mansfield said. “So at the very beginning of the show, my actors are coming out onstage and sharing their stories; before we even go into the script, they just come out and for a few minutes they share why they are there, and every single one of my actors are there for a reason.”

Amy Cassell, 23, of Detroit, who will play Frank, traveled to this area from Australia for the creative scene, said that at first she didn’t think she would get the role because she is about a decade older than her character.

“I was very excited and surprised, for one,” Cassell said.

She added that Mansfield was “very open” to having someone older play Frank because they could add depth to the character.

“I was so nervous because I haven’t acted in so long I almost didn’t go to the audition. … As soon as I got back to the stage, I felt great; just kind of remembered why I used to enjoy acting.”

Cassell said it is important to do the role justice.

“I try to remember back to when I was that age. There are a couple ways I relate to the character: She is very energetic and bouncy and lacks personal boundaries, and I definitely felt like that at times in my life and … I had the outlet (for freedom) where she is just trapped, and I’m trying to imagine what that felt like,” she said. “I hope people come and see the play and get something out of it. It is quite a classic story. ... I don’t think its power is diminished at all in the time since it’s happened.”

Reserved seats are available at both www.farmingtonplayers.org and the box office by calling (248) 553-2955.  

Tickets cost $16 for adults, and $14 for students and senior citizens.

For more information, go to www.farmingtonplayers.org or call the box office at (248) 553-2955.

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