New Play The Idealist Promises Factual Account of Meyer Levin's Anne Frank Dream

News   New Play The Idealist Promises Factual Account of Meyer Levin's Anne Frank Dream Late Jewish-American novelist Meyer Levin's story will be told on two New York stages this season. In addition to the Public Theater's Levin-inspired drama Compulsion, a reading of Jennifer Strome's The Idealist will be presented in February 2011.

The Idealist is being billed by Spellbound Development Company as a fact-based account of Levin's lifelong battle to have his adaptation of "The Diary of Anne Frank" brought to the stage.

Levin's account is something of theatrical lore. He was one of the first to read Frank's diary and quickly moved to bring his version to the Broadway stage. Though Frank's father, Otto Frank, authorized Levin to pen the dramatic account, producers later enlisted Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett as writers for the Broadway production, which went on to win the 1956 Tony Award for Best Play.

Lee Sankowich will direct the February reading of Strome's play at the Times Center in Manhattan. Dates and casting for the reading will be announced shortly.

According to presenters, playwright Strome worked closely with Levin's widow and three sons for over a decade to bring the actual behind-the-scenes account to life. Bernard Elias, the only living Frank relative and president of the Anne Frank Foundation, was also involved in the playwright's research into Levin's tumultuous and obsessive association with Frank's story.

As previously reported, Tony Award-winning actor Mandy Patinkin will star as playwright "Sid Silver" in Rinne Groff's drama Compulsion, which is directly inspired by Levin's story. The production debuted at the Yale Repertory Theatre last season and was previously seen at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. The Public run will take place Feb. 1-March 13, 2011.

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