The musical El Diario de Ana Frank: Un Canto a la Vida (A Song to Life) – developed by Rafael Alvero – has been caught in the crossfire between two organizations affiliated with the legacy of the young author.
The Independent of UK reports that an ongoing dispute between the Anne Frank Foundation (the organization which runs the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam) and the Anne Frank Fund (a Swiss-based organization that owns the sole rights to "The Diary of a Young Girl") has now put the upcoming musical in danger of ever being performed.
Alvero previously commented that he spent years convincing the Anne Frank Foundation that his musical adaptation was a worthy and respectable incarnation of Frank's account of the Holocaust. The Foundation ultimately gave Alervo and company its blessing to proceed with the production, which is slated to begin performances Feb. 22 at the Teatro Haagen-Dazs Calderón in Madrid.
The Anne Frank Fund – headed by Frank's last living relative, Bernard "Buddy" Elias – states it never gave Alvero and his team the right to adapt Frank's story as a stage musical, commenting that the Holocaust was not material suitable for musical adaptation. The same Fund also claims to have turned down Steven Spielberg when he sought to adapt the work for the screen.
The Amsterdam-based Foundation and the Swiss-based Fund – both created by Otto Frank – went to court a decade ago after the museum sought to copyright the name Anne Frank in order to fend off plagiarism of its educational materials, which are distributed globally. The Fund claimed the museum was trespassing on its turf; however, a Swiss court decided in favor of the Amsterdam museum. Another source of acrimony between the two organizations is that the Swiss-based Fund is the sole beneficiary of all proceeds generated from book sales and adaptations of "The Diary of a Young Girl" – while the Amsterdam museum claims a lack of funding for its ongoing work.
The Fund is seeking to halt Alvero's production, with Anne Frank Fund board member Christopher Knoch stating, "We have requested him to desist from such a production." However, the Fund may not be able to halt the production because Alvero's adaptation does not directly quote from "The Diary of a Young Girl."
Alvero states that the new musical will be an inspirational tale, which he intends to present in the vein of tragic opera. Alvero and the 22-member company visited the Amsterdam attic where the Frank family was forced to hide during World War II.
Jan Erik Dubbelman of the Anne Frank Foundation previously said, "This production respects the message of tolerance, within the tragedy, that we want to keep alive. Being in Spanish, it can also help to take the message of Anne Frank to Latin America."
Isabella Castillo is scheduled to portray the 15-year-old Frank. Castillo shares similarities with Frank, having fled with her mother from Cuba at a young age to hide in Belize prior to immigrating to Miami. "If you're doing a musical of the family and how they lived and the house and everything, I think it's very special, and a very important detail to come to this house," Castillo stated during her tour of the tiny Frank apartment.
Anne Frank documented her life within her diary as she and her family hid for over two years in a small flat hidden behind a bookcase in an Amsterdam warehouse. Always optimistic despite the circumstances she faced – Frank's words live on – with translations in some 60 languages and over 25 million copies of her diary sold throughout the world.
"The Diary of a Young Girl" was the source of the 1985 Michael Cohen and Enid Futterman musical Yours, Anne. That musical was based both on Frank's diary and the play The Diary of Anne Frank, penned by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. The original 1956 Broadway production of The Diary of Anne Frank earned both the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for drama.
Entitled El Diario de Ana Frank, the musical is currently scheduled to run Feb. 22-March 30 at the Teatro Haagen-Dazs Calderón in Madrid. An official opening has been set for Feb. 28. For more information visit www.teatrohaagen-dazs.es.