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Holocaust Survivor Shares Her Story At Westport Production Of 'Anne Frank'

Holocaust survivor Judith Altman
Holocaust survivor Judith Altman Photo Credit: Contributed
Randye Kaye, Deborah Burke, Jeff Pliskin and Marc Hartog in the production.
Randye Kaye, Deborah Burke, Jeff Pliskin and Marc Hartog in the production. Photo Credit: Diane Farrell

WESTPORT, Conn. – Westport Community Theatre’s production of "The Diary of Anne Frank" will feature a talkback with Holocaust survivor Judith Altman following the Dec. 3 matinee of the play.

Altman, whose story parallels Anne Frank’s in many ways, will talk about her survival and answer questions from the audience. Marji Lipshez-Shapiro, Senior Associate Director of the Connecticut Office of the Anti-Defamation League, will moderate the talkback. Shapiro has over 25 years of experience in anti-bias education, interfaith work, anti-Semitism programming and Holocaust education.

Altmann was born in Jasina, Czechoslovakia, which was invaded by the Nazis in 1939. In 1944, she was arrested and sent to Auschwitz. In March of 1945, she was transported to Bergen-Belsen on a Death March and in May of that year, was liberated by the British Army. She immigrated to Sweden, where she lived until 1948, when she came to the United States, settling in the Bronx.

She moved to Stamford in 1975, where she tutored reading at Hart Magnet Elementary School for 15 years. A frequent speaker on the Holocaust, Altman has shared her story as a survivor at schools and universities throughout Connecticut and Westchester County and is vice president of the Holocaust Child Survivors of Connecticut.

The play "The Diary of Anne Frank" was originally written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett; the WCT production is the new version adapted by Wendy Kesselman. Performances take place through Dec. 10 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and at 2 p.m. on Sundays, with a Thursday performance on Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. Anthony Gray is Stage Manager for the production, which is directed by Richard Mancini.

The show has been called a “must-see” play for the whole family, relaying the poignant and gripping story of the Frank family and incorporating newly discovered writings from the diary of Anne Frank. Its relevant and timeless lessons in humanity will undoubtedly have audiences thinking and talking. Anne Frank emerges from history a living, lyrical, intensely gifted young girl who confronts her rapidly changing life with astonishing honesty, wit, and determination. An impassioned drama about the lives of eight people hiding from the Nazis in a concealed storage attic, "The Diary of Anne Frank" captures their fear, their hope, their laughter, and their grief.

WCT’s large cast comes from many towns in Fairfield County and includes many veteran actors of community theatre. Stratford High School student Katelyn Ferrari plays Anne Frank; Stamford husband and wife Jeff Pliskin and Deborah Burke portray her parents. Other Stamford actors include Brian Buckley, Jerry Kranz and Frederick Tisch. Westport’s Marc Hartog and Norwalk’s Tom Petrone are also among the stellar cast, along with Avery Bebon (Fairfield), Colin DeFelice (Wilton), Jessica Grabarz (Milford), and Randye Kaye (Trumbull).

The Diary of Anne Frank is produced by arrangement with Dramatists Play Service. Tickets are $25 ($23 for seniors and $15 for students) and can be purchased at westportcommunitytheatre.com or by calling (203) 226-1983. The Westport Community Theatre is located at the Westport Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Ave.

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