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updated: 11/5/2013 4:31 PM

South Elgin High School brings "The Diary of Anne Frank" to the stage

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  • In the Annex are Joseph Beaty of Elgin as Peter Van Daan and Eileen Campbell of Wayne as Anne Frank, in South Elgin High School's production of "The Diary of Anne Frank."

    In the Annex are Joseph Beaty of Elgin as Peter Van Daan and Eileen Campbell of Wayne as Anne Frank, in South Elgin High School's production of "The Diary of Anne Frank."
    Courtesy of Holly McNeill


Submitted by James H. Lehman

The drama program at South Elgin High School takes a serious turn this weekend with the production of "The Diary of Anne Frank," which dramatizes the journal entries of the teenage Jewish girl who, during World War II, spent two years in hiding in Amsterdam with her family and others, only to be taken by the Nazis near the end of the war and put to death in a concentration camp.

"I think about it so much," said junior Eileen Campbell who plays Anne in the lead role.

"Anne was actually a real person and really horrible things happened to her. I don't know how to wrap my mind around it, but I constantly try," she said.

The hope of director Holly McNeill, South Elgin drama director and English teacher, is that students in the cast and the audience will feel the horror but be inspired by the humanity and courage of Anne and the others who survived through two years of constant danger.

"Playing a character who went through such a horrible experience makes me think of my own life," said junior Joseph Beaty who plays Peter Van Daan, who becomes Anne's friend. "Peter was 16. He was my age. It's really hard to comprehend. If history repeated itself, I could go through what he went through. Realizing that is powerful."

"I want to teach the Holocaust in such a way that the story will show students that one person can do so much, help us never forget that it happened, and inspire others not to be bystanders but to take a stand," McNeill said.

To help students understand, McNeill took the cast members on a field trip to the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie.

Beaty talked about how strange it is to portray someone who is going to die.

"You have to play the character knowing the character dies, but he doesn't know that he dies, so you have to play him as if he's living just like we're living now, not expecting to die."

"We're not trying to say everything is horrible, that humanity is horrible," said Campbell. "The play is not supposed to leave you with that, and it doesn't leave me with that. It just makes me mournful for what did happen and really hopeful that we can make sure it never happens again."

This play was written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, based on the book, "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl," in a newly adapted version by Wendy Kesselman.

Performances will be in the South Elgin High School auditorium, 760 East Main Street, at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Nov. 7-8, and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9.

Cast members are:

Bartlett: Garrett Kessler, Connor Murray, Michael Narhi, Brianne Panico, Ashley Talyor

Elgin: Luz Almanza, Phil Baron, Joseph Beaty, Katelynn Bachmura, Elisheva Kohn, Justin Santostefano

Streamwood: Anthony Sparks

South Elgin: Michael Ferraro, Lindsey Jones, Brad Wendt

Wayne: Eileen Campbell

Tickets can be purchased at the door: $8 for adults, $6 for students and seniors. Tickets can also be ordered by calling the director, Holly McNeill at (847) 289-3760, ext. 3377; or by emailing her at

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