Anne Frank: by Meyer Levin, reading at the Medicine Show Theatre

City Repertory Theatre is to present an all-star reading of Anne Frank, directed by Mark Cannistraro, at the Medicine Show Theatre on 18 & 19 Dec 2007.

Anne Frank, the controversial 1955 theatrical adaptation of the famous story by acclaimed novelist and playwright Meyer Levin, sparked a flurry of litigation when its author charged the Broadway producers and authors of the Pulitzer Prize-winning 'Diary Of Anne Frank'� with plagiarism

In the early 1950s, novelist Meyer Levin was instrumental in getting Anne Frank: Diary Of A Young Girl published in the U.S. where it became an instant best-seller. In return for his work promoting the book, Anne Frank's father Otto awarded Levin the right to create a stage adaptation of the story. Levin's script was summarily rejected by the powerful Broadway producers attached to the project (among them Kermit Bloomgarden and Lillian Hellman) in favor of a new script penned by Hollywood screenwriters Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett that went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Levin felt that this new Broadway version stole elements from his script and saw the rejection of his play as an extension of the Stalinist attack on Jewish culture. Outraged that even Anne Frank could be censored, he took the producers to court and began an agonizing, prolonged legal struggle that dragged on for many years.

Director Mark Cannistraro says of the reading, "Ever since I managed to track down Meyer Levin's play it's been a dream of mine to finally see it presented publically as it should have been 50 years ago. In my opinion, the moving story of Anne Frank transcends the greed, pettiness and political machinations that have kept this work out of public view for half a century. In the war-torn world in which we live today, there's room for more than one version of Anne's message of hope."

The cast for the reading of Anne Frank includes Steve Press, who played Peter Van Daan for over 800 performances in the original Broadway production of 'The Diary Of Anne Frank' (1955- 1957.)� Mr. Press will portray Peter Van Daan's father in the readings. Also Shanda Dowdeswell, critically acclaimed for her portrayal of Anne in the recent Paper Mill Playhouse production of 'The Diary Of Anne Frank.'�

The reading will also feature Brian Backer, who won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in 1981 for 'The Floating Light Bulb,'� Bruce Sabath, who portrayed Larry in the 2006 Broadway revival of 'Company,'� Jade R. Rothman, 2007 Obie-Award winner for off-Broadway's 'The Brig,'� as well as Katherine Brecka, Derrick Brenner, Lizzie Henney, Jerry Matz, Amanda Sayle, Jamee Vance and Barbara Vann.

The readings will be followed by an audience discussion led by Steve Press, who is now the chair of Holocaust Studies at Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie.

Originally published on

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