'I Am Anne Frank' returns to the Twin Cities

Vanessa Gamble in I Am Anne Frank.
Vanessa Gamble in I Am Anne Frank.
Photo courtesy Nautilus Music-Theater
Nearly seven years after it debuted here (earning an Ivey for the production), Nautilus Music-Theater's I Am Anne Frank comes back to the Twin Cities this week for a brief run. The return comes from both a desire to share the show in its current form with local audiences and that the performers have just completed an out of state run of the show.

"There was an opening at the Southern, and we were up and running after Winona," says Nautilus artistic director Ben Krywosz.

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The piece, created by Enid Futterman and Michael Cohen, uses excerpts from Frank's diary interspersed with songs to examine the life and legacy of the young woman. It features actor Vanessa Gamble and tenor Joel Liestman.

"The script is the same and the songs are the same, but as we have restaged it, the piece overall has deepened," Krywosz says. 

Through the years, the piece has been presented in several cities outside of the metro area, including Winona, Duluth, and Plainview. The tours have been funded by money from a Minnesota Legacy Grant. That money is not being used to stage the Twin Cities production.

Overall, the whole show looks at "this issue of tolerance and how to find hope in the darkness," Krywosz says. 

Anne Frank's story continues to have an impact for several reasons. "She was a remarkable person," Krywosz says. "We had all read the diary when we were younger. When we reread it as adults, it was from a whole new perspective. We could see how mature and how profound she was. It was extraordinary to see that personality, and to know that personality was wiped out before she reached maturity."

Frank was a born writer, and her desire to follow that path can be found in the pages of the diary. "We see this young woman who was so brilliant and profound, grappling with what it is to be an artist and a writer," Krywosz says.

Adding music to the story was certainly a risky choice. "A lot of people are a little taken aback when they hear there is a musical about Anne Frank," he says. "It just deepens the emotion. The words appeal to one part of us and the music appeals to another part of us. It's a highly charged situation."

One of the keys of the piece is to make Frank a full person. "Too often she comes off as a saint, but there was an edge to her. She had a personality. She had issues with her mother and with people in the attic. The music really shows us both sides of her," Krywosz says.


I Am Anne Frank
8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday
The Southern Theater
1420 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis
For information and tickets, call 612.340.0155 or visit online

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