The Diary of Anne Frank - Phantom Projects Theatre Group

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The Diary of
Anne Frank

By Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett
Newly adapted by Wendy Kesselman
Directed by Alexis Jacknow

La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
14900 La Mirada Blvd, La Mirada, CA 90638

February 20, 2014

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About the show

Anne Frank emerges from history a living, lyrical, intensely gifted young girl who confronts her rapidly changing life and the increasing horror of her time 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 the claustrophobic realities of their daily existence—their fear, their hope, their laughter, and their grief.

The Creative Team

Producer: Steve Cisneros
Director: Alexis Jacknow
Stage Manager: Benjamin
Assistant Stage Manager: Danielle Doucet
Costume Designer: Elisa Saether

Set Designer: Chuck Ketter

Props Assistant: Tyler Campbell


Joey Maya Safchik as Anne Frank
Thomas Mendola as Otto Frank
Max Herzfeld as Peter Van Daan
Karen Leabo as Edith Frank
Valerie Rose Lohman as Margot Frank
Bill Carson as Mr. Van Daan
LizAnne Keigley as Mrs. Van Daan
John Francis as Mr. Dussel
Lara Thomas Ducey as Miep
Patrick Birman as Mr. Kraler

The only known video footage of Anne Frank, seen from the window of her Amsterdam home, watching a wedding procession.


Meet the Cast!

Joey Maya Safchik (Anne)
Joey, 14, has been performing since the age of three, and is honored to be bringing her dream role to life in this incredible production! Anne Frank has been an inspiration to Joey throughout her childhood and, just like Anne, Joey adores writing and hopes to some day be either a successful actress or journalist.

This is Joey’s first production with Phantom Projects, and her past credits include Madeline and the Gypsies (Morgan-Wixson Theatre), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Salty Shakespeare Co), Fiddler on the Roof (Youth Theatre Project), Seussical (Youth Theatre Project), and many more! She can also be seen on Disney Channel’s, "Girl Meets World" later this year.

Joey is currently a freshman at Charter High School of the Arts (CHAMPS), and in her free time, she enjoys reading, gymnastics, history, and dance! Huge thank you's to Cheryl Beck at the YTP; Anne Gesling at the MWT; her amazing theatre teachers at CHAMPS; her brother and sister for always making her smile; her mom, and dad for their endless support; and lastly, to Alexis, Steve, and Ben for giving her the opportunity of a lifetime!

Thomas Mendola (Mr. Frank)
Thomas started performing as a professional musician in nightclubs around New York City at the age of 13. He has backed many well know acts. His first encounter with acting came in the film, "The Front" where he backed up Zero Mostel’s live show under the direction of Martin Ritt. The experience lead him to a passionate interest in acting. Subsequently, he performed in several Off Broadway theater productions and then started working in film, TV, and commercials.

He has worked in various roles in Day Time Dramas as well as appearing on Saturday Night Live. Thomas recently performed the role of Henry Saunders in the production of Lend Me a Tenor (Marilyn Monroe Theater). He also is mid writing his fourth stage play.

Max Herzfeld (Peter Van Daan)

Max Herzfeld is so excited to be in his first production with Phantom Projects. An alumni of Citrus College, where he was dance captain for the Citrus Singers, he is now BA of Theater at Cal State Fullerton and hopes to advance to the BFA Acting at the end of this year. Having a wider background in musical theater, Max is very energized to be taking on more acting roles.

He most recently played in The Submission (Grand Central Theater) and is looking forward to his upcoming production of And Then There Were None (Cal State Fullerton) this spring. Other previous theater credits include Urinetown and Footloose (Covina Center for Performing Arts), Godspell, Hair and How to Succeed in Business… (Performance Riverside).

So many thanks go out for this show. To my new Annex family, the cast and crew of Anne Frank, who made this such an incredible experience. To my friends who keep me sane, and my loving and supportive family who make all this possible.

Karen Leabo (Mrs. Frank)
Karen Leabo began her acting career at age 11 as Amaryllis in a high-school production of The Music Man and continued her interest in theater while in school. But her life took a sharp turn after college, when she poured herself into a different creative outlet—writing. She began as a freelance nonfiction writer, publishing hundreds of magazine articles, press releases and advertising copy; then she began selling romance novels. To date she has written almost 70 (under her own name, and the pseudonym Kara Lennox) for Harlequin Books, Bantam-Dell, and a few other publishers.

She returned briefly to acting in the 1990s as a recurring extra in the popular TV show "Walker, Texas Ranger," and as a zombie in a low-budget horror movie. But only in the past two years has she devoted herself fulltime to acting. Most of her work has been in short films, web series and commercials. Karen has also written ten screenplays, three of which have been optioned by Hollywood, New York and overseas producers.

Her dream is to write a feature film in which she can play the lead. Meanwhile, when not writing or acting, she works on her Victorian fixer-upper house, various crafts, and buying and selling vintage jewelry.

Valerie Rose Lohman (Margot)
Valerie is thrilled to be joining this incredible cast of Anne Frank!  Valerie is no stranger to the play, as she played Anne Frank this past August at the NoHo Center for the Arts, a role which she was nominated for a Audience Choice Award for Best Leading Actress in a Play.  

This past May, Valerie played the role of Mary Phagan in Parade (3-D Theatricals) which won both an Ovation and a Scenie award for Best Ensemble. Other favorite credits include: Happy Days: A New Musical (Tibbie's Center Stage), The Wizard of Oz (Lewis Family Playhouse), Cinderella, Wait Until Dark (Abbey Award Nomination), The Philadelphia Story (Abbey Award Winner), The Crucible, and the world premiere of Tsarina The Musical.

She is featured on the Original Cast Recording of Tsarina the Musical.  She is also currently featured as the lead in an all new Web Series "Traffic School: The Web Series."

Bill Carson (Mr. Van Daan)
Bill is excited and proud to be cast as Mr. Hermann van Daan in the Phantom Projects Theatre Group production of The Diary of Anne Frank. Bill would like to thank Steve Cisneros, Alexis Jacknow and Ben Shipley for giving him this opportunity.

Bill grew up in Southern California and at a young age began studying dance. While in high school, Bill began working at Disneyland in the Entertainment Division. With his background in dance, Bill became an assistant choreographer at Disneyland for parades and stage shows and outside touring shows. Bill was the Assistant Choreographer for the inaugural Main Street Electrical Parade and performed in the Academy Awards.

After taking an "extended vacation" from performing, Bill returned to acting in 2011. Since his return, Bill has appeared in many theatre productions and his credits include Dr. Edward Armstrong in And Then There Were None, Father Brendan Flynn in Doubt, Lt. William Snyder in The Sting, Mr. Frank Hackett in Network, Doc Gibbs in Our Town, Walter Fairchild in It Could Happen to You and Kris Kringle/Santa Claus in Miracle on 34 th, as well as television and commercials.

Bill and his wife, Yo, live in Irvine with their youngest son Sean. Their oldest son, Colin and his wife Kimi, live in Cypress.

Lizanne Keigley (Mrs. Van Daan)
LizAnne Keigley loves spicy food and challenging roles so it’s no surprise that she’s excited to be playing Mrs. Van Dann in Phantom Projects production of The Diary of Anne Frank. She is so grateful to be working with a stellar cast and crew, with the impeccable direction of Alexis Jacknow. This role is sure to be one of LizAnne’s new favorites along with Alma in Pillow Talk, Mrs. Higgins in Pygmalion, and Aunt Charlotte in Agatha Christie’s Black Coffee.

"This role challenges you to look at the unbelievable, the unimaginable and, then share it with a raw reality that will touch your heart."

John Francis (Mr. Dussel)
John is pleased to be appearing in his first Phantom Projects production and working with this fantastic cast and crew.  He has appeared in over 90 productions including Noises Off, Rumors, Guys and Dolls, Annie, Any Number Can Die, The Music Man and many more.  He has directed over 75 productions and has been seen in several commercials and television productions in past years.

John has a BA and MA in Acting/Directing from Cal-State Los Angeles and teaches at Rio Hondo College (Journalism/Media/Speech).  He thanks his wife, Monica, for always being there for him.

Lara Thomas Ducey (Miep)
I am an actor/director/writer from Overland Park, Kansas. After graduating with Honors from the University of Kansas with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Theatre and English, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the performing arts.  Since moving, I have appeared most notably as Cinderella in Cinderella (Shine Theatre Company) and Mayella Ewell in To Kill a Mockingbird (Shine Theatre Company), The Missile Man of Peenemunde (SPQR) and Down in Front (Fierce Backbone, Hollywood Fringe).

I’ve also worked some in film & television, including a supporting role in an HBO pilot that helped me earn my SAG eligibility.  As a founding member, I have also worked extensively with the Buran Theatre Company. In various capacities I've collaborated on nearly 10 productions with Buran - most recently traveling throughout the U.S. to tour our production of Nightmares.  

In addition to performance work, I tutor children from kindergarten on through high school. I think that you - yes YOU! - should read more books and drink more tea.  I also enjoy watching sports (my fantasy football team is better than yours) and spending time with my love and our four-legged family (Stella, Chat and Tommy).

Patrick Birman (Mr. Kraler)
Patrick finished his B.A. in Theatre Arts from C.S.U. Fullerton in December and is very thankful to Alexis and Steve for casting him in his first production of 2014. He would also like to thank his extremely supportive wife, Natalie, as he embarks on this new journey.

Patrick is a Retired Army Master Sergeant who served all over the world as a nurse and an E.M.T. Acting is his passion, and now it’s his second career. Patrick has acted in several plays, a short film, and several TV shows while pursuing his degree.

He hopes you enjoy the show and the incredible cast he has been fortunate enough to work with!

Alexis Jacknow

Alexis is a Los Angeles based theater director who has worked on productions in cities all over the country ranging from new work to the classics.  

Recent projects include: The Diary of Anne Frank (La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts); In The Next Room or the vibrator play (The Lounge Theater) ; and Reasons to be Happy (Associate Director to Neil Labute for L.A. Theatre Works) among others.

Upcoming: Fat Pig by Neil Labute.   

Alexis recently optioned the rights to the non-fiction book "The Lady in Gold" by Anne-Marie O’Connor, which she is adapting into a full-length play with playwright Lily Blau.  The play received its first developmental workshop this Fall at the Stella Adler Studio in New York City.

Her awards and fellowships include an SDC Observership on the American Premiere of Patrick Marber’s After Miss Julie at the American Airlines Theater for Roundabout Theatre Company; a Storer Boone Award for Best Children’s Show for her production of The Wind in the Willows at Southern Rep ; and participating in the Director’s Lab West at Pasadena Playhouse as an attendee in 2011 and a Guest Artist in 2013.

Alexis sits as the Chair of the Creative Committee on the board of Riverside Rep. She holds a B.F.A. from New York University and is a proud member of SDC.  

Benjamin Shipley
(Stage Manager)

Ben is ecstatic to be a part of this production of The Diary of Anne Frank with Phantom Projects Theatre Group! Recent credits include How I Learned To Drive (Illyrian Players), The Mystery Plays (The Visceral Company), The Pain and The Itch (Wilder Theatrics), In The Next Room or the vibrator play (Theatre Union), Underneath The Lintel (Just Theatre), Khardal, What Would Crazy Horse Do? (Berkeley Rep), The Fortress of Solitude, The House That Will Not Stand, and Untitled World’s Fair Play [now called The Light Years] (New York Stage and Film). Thanks so much to Alexis and Steve for this incredible opportunity! Ben is a recent alumnus of Ithaca College and a proud member of LMDA.

Danielle Doucet
(Assistant Stage Manager)

Danielle Doucet, originally from South Carolina graduated cum laude from Winthrop University with a BA in Dance and a minor in Technical Theatre.  She first worked with Phantom Projects in 2011 Stage Managing Through These Eyes and is very excited to be working on The Diary of Anne Frank.

She has also stage managed shows with The Blank Theatre including Dr. Keeling's Curve with Mike Ferrell and Peter Pan:The Boy Who Hated Mothers, Rogue Artist Ensemble's D is For Dog , Carowinds' Endless Summer on Ice, and Freak Show Deluxe, Main Street Youth Theatre's Seussical and A Main Street Christmas.  When she's not stage managing she fills her hours fire spinning and playing with her cat Gobo.

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