Community High alums reunite in “The Diary of Anne Frank”

Saturday, April 25, 2020
Cast members from Smokestack Theatre in Unionville, left to right, include Stephanie Anderson, Chelsea Mills, Jake Garrette, Emily Barlow, Aaron Gaines, Chad Lynch (seated), and Colton Hargrove. The cast is portraying a group forced to quarantine in an attic for most of two years, hiding from the insidious disease of hatred and prejudice in “The Diary of Anne Frank.” The 2015 Community stage play will be reenacted virtually on Facebook 8 p.m. Friday.
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What do two artistically-minded Community High School alums with time on their hands, living in different states, do during a pandemic? They reunite to present an online play, of course.

Those Community graduates of 2015, back by popular demand, are Aaron Gaines and Chelsea Mills. The two theatre majors have revisited, “The Diary of Anne Frank,” which they performed on the Community stage during their senior year.

Based on a true story and from one of the world’s best known books by the same name, the play is a biographical account of the late Anne Frank who documented her life in hiding from 1942 to 1944, during the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II.

Community High alums Jake Garrette, Chelsea Mills, Emily Barlow and Aaron Gaines reclaim their 2015 production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Chelsea and Aaron have been the driving forces for reuniting the cast for a new virtual performance.
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With this being the 5th anniversary of those performances by Community’s Smokestack Theatre, Aaron and Chelsea recently decided a revisit was in store. Of course, with social distancing now a necessity, due to COVID-19, the two realized the show would need to be a virtual presentation via Zoom video conferencing. 

Aaron and Chelsea set out to recruit as many of their old cast mates as possible and a new event was formed. And what’s a play without a director; they recruited their original leader, Tony Davis, who has served as Community’s drama teacher for over two decades.

It seems Davis must have been a great influence on the two students as they’re both now in college majoring in theatre-arts.

Aaron Gaines, Colton Hargrove and Chelsea Mills in a scene that illustrates how the vivacious Anne Frank handled her time in isolation--by getting creative!
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Aaron, who recently graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, portrays “Mr. Frank,” father of Anne. The elder Frank family member served in the Imperial German Army during World War I.

Chelsea, who is studying for her master’s degree in theatre in Illinois, revisits her role of Anne Frank. One of Anne’s most endearing quotes was, “Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”

Davis said the timing of the play is perfect, due to all that’s currently going on in the world socially and politically.

“It’s about people practicing self-inflicted social distancing. Also, they’re hiding from a virus, just like we are now. Not the coronavirus, but the virus of hatred and racism. We [the cast] think it’s a good time to remind the country that we must never let that virus take hold in America.”  

To see the free production, log on to Facebook and search “The Diary of Anne Frank Reunion-Live Reading.”

The cast also includes Jessica Faye as “Margot Frank,” Colton Hargrove as “Peter,” Nic McCall as “Mr. Van Daan, Alyssa Amos (who is majoring in theatre now at Austin Peay) as “Mrs. Van Daan,” Jake Garrette as “Mr. Dussel,” Joel Powell as “Mr. Kraler,” Kelsea Fletcher as “Miep,” and current Community High student Jewel Hewitt as “Mrs. Frank.”  Also featured in the production are: Josh Fox, David Perez and Jeremy Waller.

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