PPP’s Fall Play: A Cultural Blast from the Past

     The Poplar Pike Playhouse brings culture to the stage with its upcoming show Anne Frank and Me, which opens Thursday, November 5th. Cast and audience members alike will experience the sudden transition to 1942 through popular elements from the decade.  Other than the fashion of the 40s, tap dancing and “boogie woogie” swing tunes have been incorporated in the show to illuminate the fanciful aspects of the past. Three lulling ballads by the Israeli girl group HaBanot Nechama have also been added to the show, providing beautiful, cultural authentic music to the audiences.
     In the first few scenes of the show, Nicole and her two school friends are practicing a tap dance to song by the historically famed girl group “The Andrew Sisters”. Artistic Director, Ashleigh Williams, has choreographed the dance snippet with the three cast members. “The Andrew Sisters act as a cross-bridge from Nicole’s modern day time and her transition to the past,” Williams says. The dance is the allusion in the play that foreshadows the 40s time period. Nicole’s best friend in the show is played by junior Mazzy Clements who debuts her first Poplar Pike Playhouse experience with Anne Frank and Me. “The dance also puts modern and past teenager entertainment on the same plane,” Clements remarks, “It sends a message to the audience: the only difference between teenagers now and teenagers then is the time period… the feelings and conflicts remain the same.”
     Director Leonid Mazor has incorporated a variety of music into the story of Anne Frank and Me that will soothe the audience's eardrums. However, the added songs are not just used for transition music: the company of the show will sing three songs. Each song captures an idea or summarizes a particular moment of the play through the lyrics of Israeli girl group “HaBanot Nechama”. Each song is placed at the end of major scenes so that the singing cast members are “breaking character to share the emotion with the audience,” Mazor says. “When the character has nothing else to say, the energy and feelings come out in song.”
Anne Frank and Me adds the musical elements that present the raw feelings of the conflict within the play. The allusion to the Andrew Sisters provides the audience with a cultural blast to the past that serves as the bridge from the modern day to the past. From beginning to end, the cast forms a relationship with the audience, and one watching cannot help but feel completely involved in the actions going on before them on stage.
     The Poplar Pike Playhouse at Germantown High School presents a full season of theatrical productions from its 300-seat on-campus theatre facility. Since its inception is 1976, the PPP has presented more than 100 theatrical shows viewed by hundreds of thousands of patrons. The yearly roster of events includes two mainstage shows, several acting festivals and additional workshop productions. Students not only perform onstage, but are responsible for the technical and business aspects of operating this community theatre. Allison Long is the chair of the Germantown High School Fine Arts Department. Kirie Walz is the PPP managing director. Ashleigh Williams is the artistic director. The 2015-2016 student company managers are Damaris Diaz and Jasmine Saulsberry.