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Courage in the Quiet

Rhinebeck’s Performing Arts Center, flooded out of business by Irene, reopened last weekend with a sober and sometimes witty “Diary of Anne Frank.” Most people know about the Frank family and four other Jews, who hid together in cramped and mean quarters in Amsterdam to evade the Gestapo for more than two years. They had to speak in whispers, creep barefooted and refrain from using the the toilet during the day so workers below them would not know the annex was inhabitated. They could not leave the room. Ever. And were it not for Miep (Morgan McKinley) who brought them food and books and news, the eight would never have survived as long as they did. But, of course, most people already know about Anne Frank and her diary and her death in Belsen, a concentration camp in northwestern Germany, at the end of the war. And those who did not are told in the opening by Mr. Frank know the annex was inhabitated. And, of course, most people know Anne Frank died in Belsen at the end of the war. Still, it’s a rewarding thing, seeing how Anne spent her final years. It was not for nothing that she lived. She gave us a human and unforgettable account of the Holocaust. She is no saint, though. Director Diana di Grandi did not hesitate to make Anne a willful, impulsive and sometimes thoughtless adolescent. But Mary McCartney makes Anne so guileless and funny she can be forgiven anything. And she is brave in spite of her terror, and sometimes kind in spite of her terrible frustration. “I’m going to be remarkable,” she tells her house mates. “I have to make something of myself.” And indeed she did. “The Diary of Anne Frank” runs at The Center for Performing Arts in Rhinebeck, NY, through Oct. 30. 845-876-3088, or go to www.centerforperformingarts.org.

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