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Living in fear: Dual performances of ‘Anne Frank and Me’ to be held at Creston High School

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CNA photo by ANDY GOODELL Bad news: (Jessica Vandenheuvel as) Nicole Bernhardt listens fearfully as David, played by Chris Helm, explains what happens at Nazi concentration camps.
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CNA photo by ANDY GOODELL Living the history: Nicole Bernhardt (played by Jessica Vandenheuvel), left, confesses to Anne Frank (played by Maddie Mongar) that she’s lost hope while on a train bound for a Nazi concentration camp. Creston High School Drama Department will hold two performances of the play, “Anne Frank and Me” by Cherie Bennett 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the high school’s Performing Arts Center.

A lot can be learned from living in Nazi-occupied Europe. The horrors of the Holocaust come true for one American teenager in Creston High School Drama Department’s production of “Anne Frank and Me.” Jessica Vandenheuvel portrays Nicole Burns, an American teenager who is assigned to read the diary of Anne Frank. After having her heart broken by an unrequited love, Burns is involved in a near-fatal accident, which seemingly transports her into a whole new life in early 1940s Paris, France. At first, Burns believes she is dreaming or involved in an elaborate ruse by everyone in her new environment. She quickly learns exactly how it felt for European Jews during World War II after she and her Jewish family are reprimanded by strict Nazi laws. Eventually, Burns and her family are forced to go into hiding before she comes face to face with the author of one of the most widely published diaries in history, Anne Frank. The Creston High School production of “Anne Frank and Me” utilizes minimal set design and lighting affects to portray the stark realities of life as a European Jew. Instead, the production relies on how its characters react to their seemingly hopeless situation. Director Kate Shipley noted that she chose this play because of her love of history, and the fact that her grandfather was one of the first American tank commanders to enter Germany in World War II. She added, productions like this help prevent the atrocities of the Holocaust from happening again. “Never forget Anne Frank,” she said. “Never forget the millions of people like her that were taken from their families, and keep telling their stories to anyone who will listen.” Performances will be 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Creston High School’s Performing Arts Center. —————— Andy Goodell can be reached at (641) 782-2141 ext. 242 or agoodell@crestonnews.com

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