Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

October 16, 2008

Andoverite as Anne

Andover sixth-grader takes on role of Anne Frank in Acting Out production

By Judy Wakefield

Katy Kohut read the powerful and emotional story of Anne Frank as a fourth-grader.

"But I didn't really get it," she admits.

Two years later, she not only knows the Holocaust story well, she'll portray Anne Frank in an Acting Out production on Oct. 24 and 25.

Katy is the daughter of director Penny Kohut of Andover, who said her daughter auditioned like all the other actresses and performed well to clinch the role. She even looks a bit like Anne Frank — only with braces.

It's the first time the West Middle School sixth-grader has been a lead in a show directed by her mom. Katy has had other roles in shows, but has never been cast as the female lead until now.

Anneliese "Anne" Marie Frank hid from the Nazis in Amsterdam with her family and others during World War II. Her diary documented the group's ordeal.

"It's a story that is hard to imagine," Katy said. "She fought so hard to be free."

Added her mom: "People tend to forget about such stories and sometimes need to stop for a moment to be reminded."

It's a heavy drama to tackle, but Penny Kohut said staging a story like Anne Frank's is important.

"She was a typical girl in many ways, and we show that side of her. It's a drama, and I think, a story that should never be forgotten," she said.

Jeff Ashworth, also of Andover, said it had been years since his last performance — in a junior high school production of "Godspell" — when he hooked up with Acting Out. He's in this show, too. Now married with children, he agreed that "The Diary of Anne Frank" is an important story to put on stage.

"Like every kid, she was rebelling to be normal," he said. "I think kids today need to see how typical she really was."

For Kaity Beaumont, a ninth-grader at Andover High School, her role of Miep Gies fits her to the core, even if the character's age is 22. A self-described upbeat-all-the-time person, she likes her character because she is a positive personality in this drama.

"She is sort of like a lifeline because she is the one who brings food and the newspaper," Kaity said.

Gies is known as the person who saved the diary of Anne Frank.

Director Kohut said it was time for Acting Out to tackle a drama, because her theater group likes to mix things up. Its long list of performances have included lots of comedies and kid-friendly productions over the years.