The musical by lyricist-librettist Owen Robertson and composer Jay Gaither had a private New York City reading in January 2002. In May 2002 Saving Anne was presented at Greenwich Theatre's Musical Futures Festival in London, where it earned encouraging reviews and some UK producer interest, Robertson told Playbill On-Line. There is hope for a 2004 London staging.
The musical play focuses on Peter Erickson, a 14-year-old science prodigy who, in 1989, falls in love with the hopeful but doomed Anne Frank when he reads her famous diary, which detailed how she and her family hid in an attic during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. Over the next 10 years he grows into manhood to become an M.I.T grad student specializing in quantum physics.
"Using a combination of science and Jewish mysticism he discovers a road back into time which he will utilize to accomplish his ultimate goal: To follow that road back to Nazi Germany, to save Anne Frank from the concentration camp in which she perished in 1945," according to Robertson.
Performance Network, an SPT 4 professional Equity theatre, gives Saving Anne its American premiere as part of the Fireside Festival of new works there. The musical is the fest's mainstage attraction, directed by Network artistic director Daniel C. Walker, and is open to the public. Official opening following a Jan. 16 preview is Jan. 17. Performances continue to Jan. 26.
The Michigan cast includes Stan Bahorek (as Peter), Isaac Ellis, C.W. Gilbert, Alyson Grossman (as Peter's girlfriend, Rachel), Christine Kapusky, Donnie McNeal, Alex Mendiola, Lauren Molina (as Anne Frank), Annie Palmer, Rochelle Rosenthal (as Aunt Rachel) and Nick Yu. Musical director is Jane Arvidson. Writers Robertson and Gaither (who are in Michigan working on the show) are graduates of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. Their previous musical, Dracula, had a reading in Boston. Gaither's musical, Hurricane, was a Jerry Bock Award winner and was seen at the Eugene O'Neill Musical Theatre Conference. Robertson's play, Ticket to Ride, was presented at the New York International Fringe Festival and his The Women in My Soul was featured at the 2000 inaugural Midtown Theatre Festival.
The Performance Network's Fourth Annual Fireside Festival also includes Michigan and regional theatres presenting staged readings. The goal is "to create a festival with a regional impact," according to a spokesman.
Tickets for Saving Anne are $18, and the festival pass (which includes admission to other readings) is $25.
For ticket information, call (734) 663-0681 or visit www.performancenetwork.org.
For more information about Saving Anne, industry people may e-mail OwenRobertson@aol.com.