The Diary of Anne Frank Cast and Crew

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Maren McClelland (Anne Frank) – is 14 ½ and will be entering John Glenn High School in the fall as a freshman. She started acting at age 8 as a Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz and a Who in Suessical the Musical . She has also appeared in Children’s Letters to God, Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat, Charlotte’s Web and most recently in Night at the Museum at East Muskingum Middle School. Maren enjoys math and science, reading dystopian fiction, and traveling to far off places. She plays the saxophone in the John Glenn High School Marching Band is also in J.G.H.S.’s steel drum band, PanJGea. Maren was thrilled to receive the part of Anne Frank and has worked hard to represent Anne as her diary portrayed her to be. Maren’s favorite quote from Anne is “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart “.
Cary Blake Underwood (Margot Frank) – Cary Underwood grew up with the theater. She got her first major role when she was seven and played Lucy in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Since then, Cary has performed in several other musicals including Annie, Oliver, Singing in the Rain, Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown and A Little Princess. Cary will be a senior this fall at Bishop Rosecrans High School. There she is involved in choir and drama club. In addition to the performing arts, Cary is a black belt in Kenpo. We hope you enjoy the show!

Eric Blake (Otto Frank, Assistant Director) – Eric is currently employed as the Director of Operations for Shrivers Oxygen and Home Medical. He has had a love of the theatre for many years and he enjoys directing as well as being on stage. It was instilled in him at an early age the importance of working behind the scenes as well as acting. Eric currently serves on the Board of Directors at Zanesville Community Theatre. Eric’s directing credits include: Spring Awakening, August, Osage County, Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, RENT, Doubt, J.B., Steel Magnolias, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and The Lion In Winter. On stage, Eric has recently appeared in The Crucible, Sweeney Todd, Death of A Salesman and Next Fall; just to name a few.This is a beloved and deeply admired monument to the indestructible nature of the human spirit, the spirit that may crack but never break. Eric is honored to bring to life the role of Otto Frank and work with this dedicated and passionate cast and crew. Remember, never forget how to dance!

Eric hopes that you enjoy the show and thanks you for supporting Zanesville Community Theatre as they continue to strive for excellence against a backdrop of tradition.

Amy Underwood (Edith Frank) – I have been familiar with this play and the original diary since I first read it as a young girl. I am so honored to be able to participate in this production as Anne’s mother, Edith Frank. Our rehearsals have been an intensive study of the time period and what people in this situation would have gone through not so very long ago. As a cast, and with the guidance of our director, we are constantly reminded that we are playing real people, not fictional characters. I am especially pleased to be playing the mother of my real-life daughter, Cary. We have both been in numerous plays, but have never really shared the stage together until this production. The fact that this play exists at all is a testament to the triumph of courage and love in the human spirit over the tragedies of hatred and evil in the world.
Don Roberts (Mr. Van Daan) – Don is very happy to be making his first production at ZCT. He is a long time veteran of Film, TV, Commercials and of course his favorite live theatre. He has had the privilege to perform with Ed Harris, Melanie Griffith, Danny Devito, Penny Marshall, and other professionals. He has worked with some of the best performers in the Midwest, and is excited to be performing in this gem of a theatre with some wonderful people here at ZCT. He would like to thank Matt and the cast and crew for welcoming him to the cast of Anne Frank, and adding to his list of over 370 theatre productions. He also thanks you the audience member for coming to this performance to be a part of the continuing story of the Jewish people. And he hopes that we never forget the lessons learned from this tragedy. And as always he thanks his wife Joyce for always supporting his love of performing.

Denise Harper (Mrs. Van Daan) – This is Denise’s first acting experience at ZCT. She has done nine other shows at Licking County Players, and has also been on the board of directors there. Some of her favorite shows include Anything Goes, The girls in 509, Cinderella, and State Fair. Although Denise participated in theater in high school, it had been many years between that time and when she got involved in theater again. Community theater has given her the opportunity to use her creative talents as well as the chance to be around other creative and fun people.This production of The Diary of Anne Frank has been a very special journey for several reasons. First, I had the honor of having my son Matthew direct me in this performance. He has been without a doubt, the best director that I have had the pleasure of being associated with; his dedication to this show has been outstanding and his vision and enthusiasm with this play has been contagious. I have also had the incredible opportunity to act beside my son Anthony as well as my daughter Bethany. It is always special to be in the same production with my children (it has happened 6 other times). It has also been an amazing experience to be a part of a show that has such a wonderful group of talented and dedicated cast members. I am so fortunate to have had this opportunity. I want to give a special thanks to my mother who has always been so supportive and has made my life so full of happiness.

Blake Nessleroad (Peter Van Daan) – Robert Blake Nesselroad is from Zanesville, Ohio and is currently a junior at Muskingum University where he studies English and Theatre as his majors and Music and musical theatre as his minors. Although this is his second show at Zanesville Community Theatre, he has been a part of the theatre programs at both Philo High School and Muskingum University. His very first show was the Wizard of Oz when he was a kindergartener and since then has been in love with all types of theatre. Blake was inspired by a teacher in high school to further his acting career beyond high school and college and to teach those who wish to become actors and actresses and help them reach their goals.
He has been overjoyed being able to be a part of The Diary of Anne Frank and being a part of the ZCT family and cannot wait to be a part of shows in the future years. He has also enjoyed be able to work with not just great actors, but fantastic people! Blake would like to thank his teachers, friends and family who have supported him throughout his life and hopes you enjoy the performance.
Anthony Harper (Mr. Dussel) – Anthony is very proud to be in his second show at ZCT you may have last seen him as Georg in Spring Awakening. Anthony is delighted at the opportunity to be a part of his brother Matthew’s directorial debut as well as being able to work with his sister and mother. Anthony is very grateful for the love and support of his family and friends without them none of this would be possible.
Bethany Harper (Miep) – Bethany Harper is thrilled to make her ZCT debut for The Diary of Anne Frank. She has been in shows since the 4th grade, and has been in various community shows. Bethany played Sister Berte in The Sound of Music, Chorus in Les Miserables, and Ursula in Bye Bye Birdie. You may have also seen Bethany as Emilee in Dangerous Liasons, and Joy in Cinderella at Licking County Players. Bethany would like to thank her loving fiancé for being her rock to keep her grounded when she gets too busy, and her supportive family and friends. She would not be able to function through her crazy life without them.

David J Kerr (Mr. Kraler) – In a normal biography, we the actors get the opportunity to talk about ourselves and how much we’ve enjoyed this show. This show is a heart breaker so there is no joy. But it is an honor to portray a man with as much courage as Victor Kugler. That’s Mr. Kraler’s real name. Instead of talking about myself, I’d like to talk about and honor him. Victor Kugler was born June 5th, 1900 and served in the Austro-Hungarian Navy during WWI. He was discharged in 1918 after being injured. He moved to Holland in 1920 and became Otto Frank’s deputy at Opekta in 1924. In 1940, to avoid Nazi confiscation, he accepted directorship of the business from Otto Frank. From July 1942 to August 1944 he aided in the concealment of the eight people portrayed by our cast.

On August 4th, 1944, he was arrested, held as a political prisoner, and forced into hard labor. In March, 1945, while on a forced march to Germany, he was able to escape during a bombing raid. He made his way back to his home, where he remained in hiding until the liberation of Holland on May 5th, 1945. His wife, Laura passed away in 1952 and he remarried in 1955 and moved to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where he stayed for the remainder of his life. Victor Kugler died on December 6th, 1981 at the age of 81.

God Bless Victor Kugler and people like him who are brave enough to risk their own lives in an effort to save another.

Phil Palmer (First Man) -I have the unenviable task of attempting to portray a Nazi soldier in this production. Despite how it may seem, it is not an easy task to, “play the bad guy,” especially in this manner. I am usually a pretty nice guy. I am currently the Vice President of Zanesville Community Theater and have been involved in the arts since 2004 and have loved it ever since. I am a Social Worker in my regular job and I am the lucky husband of the Stage Manager.
Rob Rager (Second Man) – Robert has been acting since his middle school year, and has always enjoyed being on stage. He has done many shows at Licking County Players, where he met Matt Harper. Most recent he has done the musical “I love you, your perfect, now change” and stage managed” the sensual senator” as well as acted in it. Personally would like to thank Matt for welcoming him to his first show at ZCT and once again enjoyed working with him, even if as a “bad guy” this time around !

Production Staff

Matthew Harper (Director) – Matt is thrilled to be making his directorial debut with ZCT. Though this is his first time sitting in the director’s chair, he is no stranger to the stage. He has been in numerous productions. Some of his favorites are Spring Awakening (Moritz), Singin’ in the Rain (Don Lockwood), RENT (Roger), Wizard of Oz (Tin Man), and Les Misérbles (Jean Valjean) among many others. He was recently cast as Tommy Keeler in Chillicothe Civic Theatre’s Annie Get Your Gun. Matt has loved directing this cast and hopes you enjoy the show. He thanks his friends and family for their ongoing support.

Director’s Notes:

When I decided to direct the Diary of Anne Frank I knew I wanted it to be as accurate as possible. Through research and bringing a Holocaust survivor in to speak about his experiences, I have made every effort to ensure the cast had the necessary tools to bring this poignant piece to life.
I elected to use original music written specifically for our show. We are performing the updated script from 1997, which was nominated for two Tony Awards. This version incorporates a slightly different ending.
Because the “secret annex” was such a tight, intimate space, I chose to place the entrance through the audience, effectively putting you into hiding with them.
Whether you’ve seen this show before, read the diary, or learned about Anne Frank in school, (or maybe you just know someone involved with the show) I thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing this story to be retold and keeping Anne’s spirit of hope alive.

Matthew Harper

“Where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.”
—Anne Frank

Janice Blake (Producer)
Angel Palmer (Stage Manager) -It isn’t often that we are able to be a part of a story that is so powerful and so moving that we have to take a step back and remind ourselves to breathe. Very few shows affect me like this show has, and I am grateful that I have been allowed to share this experience with the actors who are bringing Anne’s words to life.