The Spellbound Development Company and Anna Armstrong MD, with permission from the Anne Frank Fonds in Basel, Switzerland, have extended the availability of the 60th anniversary podcast of Meyer Levin's long-lost original radio play, Anne Frank: THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL, through September 23. Playwright and producer Jennifer Strome directs.
Initially set to be available on demand only through September 18, the podcast will now be accessible free, on demand until 11:59pm on Sunday, September 23 at www.theidealistonstage.com. Not heard since the eve of Rosh Hashanah in 1952, when it aired nationally on CBS Radio, Levin's play was the first adaptation of Anne Frank's diary.
Justine Huxley, the young star of Theatreworks USA's MAX AND RUBY, and voice-over coach and actor Rick Zieff are portray Anne and Otto Frank, respectively. The ensemble also features several celebrated voice-over actors, known for voicing popular anime and video game characters, including Yuri Lowenthal, Bruce Nozick ("Weeds"); Tracy Pattin, Tara Platt, Tasia Valenza, and Katie Zieff.
Author Meyer Levin was born in 1905 to Jewish immigrants in Chicago. He began a journalism career at the age of 16 when he started reporting for the Chicago Daily News. In 1943, Levin was based in London as a war correspondent. He followed the stories of American Jewish soldiers and Germany's genocidal campaign. Levin was the first American journalist to enter a work camp, Ohrdruf, followed by Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, and more. He suffered tremendous guilt as witness to the atrocities and wrote of his inability to tell the story of the Jews of Europe. That changed when he encountered The Diary of Anne Frank, the first to come out of the war. Levin wrote to Otto Frank and met with him before leaving Europe, inquiring into the American publication and dramatic rights. He was the first to see the dramatic potential of the Diary.
On Levin's return to America, he began a campaign to endorse the Diary. Levin helped launch the Diary's success in America with a New York Times review that generated 40,000 orders overnight. With Otto Frank's consent, Levin was positioned as adaptor for the stage. In a still contested series of events, the play was taken from him and assigned to Hollywood screenwriters instead.
This production marks first occasion that the Anne Frank Foundation in Basel, Switzerland has acknowledged Meyer Levin's work on the Diary since the contested events of the late 1950s between Levin and Otto Frank. Bernhard Elias, Anne Frank's only surviving cousin, and President of the Foundation, in accordance with the Foundation's Board voted unanimously to approve the presentation.
When the play opened on Broadway, Levin became obsessed with the distillation of the Jewish content and spent years battling for the right to have his adaptation produced. A well-regarded writer, Levin was the author of 13 novels including the bestseller Compulsion in 1956.
Ms. Strome presented her discovery of Levin's radio play script to the Anne Frank Fonds in Basel, Switzerland in 2009, the first acknowledgment of Meyer Levin's work on the Diary since the contested events of the late 1950s between Levin and Otto Frank. Bernhard Elias, Anne Frank's only surviving cousin, and President of the Foundation, in accordance with the Foundation's Board, voted unanimously to approve Strome's restoration of the radio play for educational purposes.
Jennifer Strome is a theatrical producer who first learned of the story of Meyer Levin and the Diary of Anne Frank in 1999 when she met a member of Levin's family. Strome was captivated by the story and contacted Levin's son who introduced her to the vast collection of books and films the author had written. Three years later she met with Levin's widow and began her research in earnest at the Howard Gotleib Archival Research Center of rare book and manuscript collections atBoston University where more than 50 boxes of personal letters, trial transcripts, and articles belonging to Meyer Levin are housed. In addition to studying Levin’s books and letters, Strome interviewed friends, family, colleagues, and other interested admirers and detractors. She developed this project into an original play, The Idealist, presented in a webcast in New York City in February, 2011.