Paying homage to a 75-year-old story

LZHS’ Theatre Club puts on the play adaption of ‘Diary Of A Young Girl: Anne Frank’


Photo by and used with the permission of Joe Pine

The cast of the winter play rehearsing for the upcoming show on November 10, 11, and 12.

Sadie Good, Secretary

75 years ago, in 1947, Otto Frank, a Jewish man in Amsterdam published his daughter’s diary following her death in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The diary, titled ‘Diary of A Young Girl: Anne Frank’ soon became a international bestseller and the story of a young Jewish girls life in hiding during the Holocaust brought new perspectives to those who read it. As the 75th anniversary of the book’s publishing took place this June, LZHS’ Theatre Club is putting on the play adaptation to bring this story to Lake Zurich on November 10, 11, and 12 at 7:00 PM. 

As this year marks 75 years since the books publication and the end of the Holocaust, many Holocaust survivors are passing away due to old age. Tom Skobel, director, took this into account when choosing to put on this play.

“Even though those firsthand memories will no longer be with us, the stories still need to be told,” Skobel said. 

In addition, LZHS’ Jewish population factored into his decision as well, as he believes this story and those like it are important to the Jewish community, and wishes to help tell them in their truth. Matthew Winiarz, senior, who plays Otto Frank, auditioned for the play for this exact reason.

“I think this play was important for me to be a part of because it’s important to my identity [as a Jewish person] and it resonates with me on a personal level,” Winiarz said.

Sydney Pine, junior, who plays Anne Frank’s sister, Margot Frank, also agrees that the story is important to the Jewish community; this is why she, being Jewish herself, chose to take part in the play.

“I think it’s a really important story to tell and while I’m not a very religious person myself, my family is Jewish and I want to try and help represent Jewish people in the show,” Pine said.

When putting on a story with such serious topics as this one, Skobel and Pine agree that extensive research is necessary. Over the summer of 2022, Skobel read Anne’s diary himself and compiled packets of further information about the Frank family and their individual stories to assist both himself and his cast. While this research was important to the production, Pine believes that it may not have been enough.

“There’s always the possibility of not doing enough research and offending people and I would hate to have that happen,” Pine said.

In addition, Pine expresses concern for the plays rehearsal schedule, as there were rehearsals scheduled for both Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana.

“I don’t typically go out of my way to celebrate these holidays, though sometimes I take off school and take it as an opportunity to get together with my family,” Pine said. “But this year, I didn’t take off for either of them because if I did, I would have had to miss rehearsals.”

Winiarz did take these days off and missed rehearsal because of them. However, he believes that this overlap was handled well by both Skobel and the cast, and as part of these rehearsals, the cast was educated on the importance of these holidays and why they are celebrated.

“Mr. Skobel asked me beforehand if I was going to be attending rehearsals in the holidays and he even asked about the significance of them,” Winiarz said.

As well as working to understand the importance of the Jewish holidays, Skobel has implemented a ‘button system’ into his rehearsals.

There is an emotional toll that [rehearsing this show] could take on the actors and doing it even just once in rehearsal takes a lot of energy, so we have a practice in place called ‘button’,” Skobel said. “The actors can say ‘I’m gonna button this’ as a way to say that they’re not going to do that today because they just can’t get there emotionally.”

Through the preparation, the rehearsals, and the final production, the cast, crew, and director have worked hard to portray this story respectfully and in its truth.

More information about the Holocaust and Anne Frank’s story can be found at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Anne Frank House websites, as well many other online resources.