The Ridgefield Visual and Performing Arts Company’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ridgefield High School Auditorium. The show is a compelling account of the lives of two families in hiding from persecution during the Holocaust. It is based on the life of a young girl, whose diary was recovered by her father after the liberation of the concentration camps. The powerful retelling of her story is brought to life with inspiration straight from the pages of this prized and revered text.
The show will be staged in the RHS Auditorium on Nov. 14,15,16,22, and 23 at 7:30 p.m. and at 2 p.m. on Nov. 24. The matinee on Sunday, Nov. 24th will be followed by a presentation by Wilton resident Louis Reens, who will share his family’s personal Holocaust story of bravery and survival. Patrons who attend any performance may request to have their ticket stubs stamped and use them to return for this special presentation.
Born in 1933, Reens and his family lived in Amestelveen, a suburb of Amsterdam, Holland. He attended school, played with Jewish and non-Jewish friends, and enjoyed a happy early childhood. On May 10, 1940, the Germans bombed the town. The Reens family boarded a ship, late at night, in an attempt to flee. Reens’ father became suspicious when a fellow passenger asked for his car keys, so in a panic, the family left the ship. They later learned that the ship was torpedoed by the Germans, and many were killed.
Like others, Reens was forced to wear a yellow star outside his clothing to identify his Jewish heritage. He was told he could no longer attend school. In 1942, the family was forced out of their home and placed in an apartment with several other families. According to the family’s history on the Never to Forget website:
“Louis’ family went into hiding in the summer of 1942. Louis was sent to live with strangers, while the rest of his family went to live in an attic at another location. The family that Louis was sent to live with was very nice to him and treated him with kindness. They had five children already, so taking Louis into their home was a great act of kindness. Louis lived with this host family for 33 months without ever being able to see his parents and brothers. Because Louis had blonde hair and didn’t look Jewish, he was able to attend school and play outside.
“His parents and brothers were not as lucky; they were confined to an attic. The attic was an extremely small area. It was so small that his brother actually had to re-learn how to walk again once they were freed. Freedom always has a price. However, all along, Louis was living a fairly normal life. Yet, living without your family at such a young age is not truly normal.”
Reens and his family miraculously survived. They were reunited after the war and soon immigrated to Forest Hills, NY. Reens now lives in Wilton.
Tickets for the performances are $10. Tickets for both reserved and general admission seating may be purchased in advance by accessing RHSAnneFrank.info or at the door. Due to the mature theme, this play is recommended for ages 10 and above.