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A 'Diary' That's Fit for Older Children


The Serendipity Theatre Co. once again demonstrates its unusual commitment to serving older as well as younger children with a surprisingly solid production of "The Diary of Anne Frank" at the Coronet Theatre.

The stage adaptation by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett is sensitive and true, giving full weight to the peril in which the Franks and their friends lived. Anne's strong spirit and sensitivity, the flash arguments and mild expletives ring true, as do the boredom, anger and frustration engendered by two years of deprivation and little privacy.

Directed with a sure hand by Scott Davidson, the cast does its best to live up to the script. For the most part, its commitment makes up for its lack of depth.

Michael C. Miller as reasonable Mr. Frank and Christopher Michael Wolfe as the constantly kvetching Mr. Van Daan provide a good deal of substance; Kathleen O'Hara's Mrs. Frank has some strong moments as well.

Lyndie Robb gives Mrs. Van Daan pungency without making her a caricature, Jason Stroud's crabby Mr. Kraler is fine, and so is Chris Jorie's Mr. Dussel. Stacie McGlenon disappoints, however, never bringing Miep to life.

Of the teen cast, Heather de Michele registers Anne's forthright character and sense of mischief, though she misses the fragility and pain. Britta von Detten's Margot Frank hasn't much to do but is a pretty presence. David Fessenden, however, strikes a one-note sullenness as Peter; his self-conscious, stiff arms are a distraction.

Kudos to Lyle Brooks' outstanding set that vividly re-creates both the claustrophobic attic and the era, and to Kenny Realista's expressive light design. Jeff Welton's sound and Leonard Ellis' music contribute, as do Denise Anderson's '40s-era costumes and Caryn Ronis Rubenzer's hair design.

Serendipity Theatre Company, Coronet Theatre, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd., Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 1 and 4 p.m. Ends Dec. 1. $12 (ages 13 and younger, $6). (310) 652-9199. Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes. Quick Take: For little ones, the return of Theatre West's generic "Aladdin and His Lamp" provides lots of participation and almost nonexistent conflict so no one will feel threatened. Lloyd J. Schwartz's tuneful, funny score is a plus.

"Aladdin and His Lamp," Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd., Saturday, 1 p.m. Ends Dec. 14. (818) 761-2203. $6. Running time: 45 minutes.

Quick Take II: The all-woman cast playing men in the Nine O'Clock Players' production of "Robin Hood" will distract older kids and adults, but at a recent performance, younger ones were taken in to the point of booing the mean Sheriff and cheering the Merry Men. There's real swordplay, too.

It's an amateur cast, but Suzanna Royse is an athletic, appealing Robin and Bobbie Gay and Arlen O'Hara as the Sheriff's family are a kick. The show is well-directed by Rob Bowers who also does the light-hearted choreography.

"Robin Hood," Assistance League Playhouse, 1367 N. St. Andrews Place, Hollywood, today-Sunday, 2 p.m. Ends Sun. $5. (213) 469-1970. Running time: 1 hour, 15 minutes.

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