Spanish turn Anne Frank diary into musical

Mon Feb 4, 2008 12:25pm EST
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By Ben Harding

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish producers have turned the life of Anne Frank, the Jewish girl who wrote a diary while hiding from Nazis, into a musical, tearing up the genre's widely held convention of light-hearted, sugar-coated tale.

The Spanish-language production: "Anne Frank, A Song to Life" chronicles the German-born girl's experiences hiding in an attic in Amsterdam from 1942 to 1944, before the Frank family were betrayed and sent to camps where Anne died of typhus.

The 3 million euro ($4.5 million) production, closer in style to Les Miserables than Cats, is the first of its kind to focus on Frank's life.

Director Rafael Alvaro, who came up with the idea for the musical 10 years ago, said the show's aim was to project a vision of hope and optimism. He defended it against accusations that the subject was too serious to be made into a musical.

Buddy Elias, Frank's 82-year-old cousin and only surviving relative has said his charity, the Anne Frank Fonds, was firmly against the show: "The Holocaust is not a theme to be made into a musical," he has been reported as saying.

Alvaro said his production was a sensitive portrait of Frank's life and pointed out that it had the backing of the Anne Frank House organization which runs a museum in the canalside warehouse where Anne hid in a secret annex behind a false bookcase.

"If the musical -- done in an exquisite, delicate, important way -- reaches the great public not only here but worldwide, that is success for me," he told Reuters after presenting the production to journalists at Madrid's Calderon Theatre.

Anne was transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and then Bergen-Belsen where she died aged 15 along with her sister Margot in March 1945, a few weeks before the camp was liberated by the British Army.   Continued...

<p>Cuban actress Isabella Castillo (C), who plays the role of Anne Frank, performs with fellow actors during a media rehearsal of the musical "Anne Frank: A Song to Life" in Madrid February 4, 2008.REUTERS/Susana Vera</p>