Anne Frank on song?
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Now, before you start humming Springtime for Hitler, the producers of a new Anne Frank musical want you to know that they are serious. They are offering a rendition of the popular, tragic story of a Jewish girl and her diary during the Holocaust that they say is respectful, inspirational and educational. And—surprise!—controversial.
Even before the premiere last week, uneasy voices were raised about whether committing such a heart-wrenching tale to music was a good idea. Octogenarian Buddy Elias, one of Anne Frank's last surviving relatives and head of a Swiss-based foundation that controls rights to the diary, protested against the project.
But the writers, actors and director behind the Spanish-language, $4.5 million The Diary of Anne Frank: A Song to Life have worked hard to dispel any notion of trivialisation or irreverence.
"This is one more way to talk about the Holocaust, to remind people of something they must know about and remember," executive director Rafael Alvero said. A veteran of Spanish theatrical and cinema production, Alvero said the idea for A Song to Life came when he visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam where the Frank family hid from the Nazis for two years.
Anne, her parents and her sister, Margot, were eventually betrayed and taken to Nazi camps. Anne died of typhus at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945 at the age of 15. The diary she kept while in hiding became one of the most-read accounts of the Holocaust.
On his visit to the Frank House, Alvero had in tow his own 13-year-old child. There was something universal, he concluded, about the flights of fantasy and spurts of rebellion of a young girl, even when juxtaposed with some of the most terrible passages of human history. That visit was in 1998; it took a decade for Alvero to persuade the foundation to go along with the project. Once on board, the foundation became an ad hoc sounding board and has been asked to approve the script.
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