The Diary of Anne Frank: Starring Lily Palmersheim, Class of 2020


Photo Courtesy of Theater Cedar Rapids

Ian Wolverton-Weiss, ’21, and Lily Palmershiem, ’20, pose together in a promotional photo for Theatre Cedar Rapids. The pair portray characters Peter Van Daan and Anne Frank.

Sophie Lindwall, Staff Reporter

Theatre Cedar Rapids is in the middle of their run for their current show, “The Diary of Anne Frank,” starring Lily Palmersheim, ‘20, in the title role. This is Palmersheim’s first major role on the TCR stage, but not her first run around the block. She has also been in “Billy Elliot,” “Peter Pan,” and shows in “The Underground Theatre Festival” all at TCR. She also participated in a few of the “Cedar Rapids Follies” at the Paramount and “The Great Gatsby” and “Newsies” here at Wash.

“When I first found out I got the role, I was shocked. I didn’t think I was being considered for the role because of my age, but I was very excited. I called my mom and dad when I found out, even though I was at school,” said Palmersheim.

Palmersheim rehearses from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. every weekday and occasionally on weekends.

“The Diary of Anne Frank” tells the well known true story of Anne Frank. The play is based off of her diary that was later turned into a book, “The Diary of a Young Girl.” Anne Frank and her family were jews who went into hiding during Nazi Germany. They were discovered by the Gestapo in 1944 after 25 months in hiding in the secret annex of her father’s office building. Anne kept a diary during her years in hiding, and her diary entries are what the play entails.

Not only is “The Diary of Anne Frank” a story of the life of a jew during World War II, but it is also a coming of age story. Anne Frank grows from a child to a woman during her more than two years in the secret annex. In the play, the character discusses the topics that comes with growing up, including her sexuality and the physical and mental changes in her body.
“The Diary of Anne Frank” is directed by Angie Toomsen, Theatre Cedar Rapids Artistic Director.  “Angie Toomsen is 2,000 percent the greatest director ever. She’s so nice. She’s so sweet. I love her so much,” said Palmersheim. Toomsen has directed nearly forty shows, the most recent being “Detroit” at Riverside Theatre. She has directed seven plays and four musicals at TCR.

“Lily is wonderful. She is fantastic and super,” said Rachel Potthoff, TCR’s stage manager. Potthoff is not the only person who feels that way about Palmersheim.

“Lily is very, very dedicated to her work and it’s been amazing working with her because she gets better and better every rehearsal and you can tell that she really understands Anne and it’s like watching her transform into another person. It’s like a revelation. I am very impressed by her work,” said Tad Paulson, who is playing Otto Frank.

“This is a story we can never forget. Not just because what it means and how it helps us to understand all the human beings that were impacted by the Holocaust, but it helps us to remain vigilant because I think cruelty and inhumanity are things that we still have to remain aware of and conscious of in our world,” said Toomsen.

Theatre Cedar Rapids reached out to the Amsterdam Museum that toured with the annex exhibit to get large posters that show quotes and pictures from the annex. They are displayed in the lobby of the theatre. Another feature associated with the show is “Beyond the Stage.”

“We are going to have Holocaust researches come in and talk about World War II, the Holocaust, and other issues regarding “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “Bent”* to an audience,” said Palmersheim.

Overall, according to all of Palmersheim’s co-stars, directors, and students here at The Surveyor, we are sure that “The Diary of Anne Frank ” will be a show that you won’t want to miss.

“The Diary of Anne Frank” will be playing at Theatre Cedar Rapids from March 9-25.

*“Bent” is the affiliating play about the persecution of homosexuals during the Holocaust. It will be showing in the Grandon Studio at TCR from March 16 to March 31.