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Anne and Pia.

Eddie Mair | 10:16 UK time, Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Last night on the programme, we reported on preparations for a stage production in Madrid - a musical about the life of Anne Frank.

Mark Armstrong wrote in: "Anne Frank the musical, will it join the list of other successful stage biopic musicals. 'Winnie', (Winston Churchill!), Bernadette, Billy Bunter, etc? A previous stage production of Anne Frank in New York (funded by a wealthy Italian) was reduced to farce on the press night when indifferent acting by Pia Zadora (model, actress and 'friend' of Italian angel) prompted the front row of New York reviewers at the beginning of act two, to chorus 'She's behind the wardrobe' as german stormtroopers entered stage left!"

....I thought I'd heard that story and wondered on air whether or not it was true. PM listeners have been in touch!

Jane Hall wrote: " I seem to remember a dramatised version of the story written by Bernard Kops - The Dreams of Anne Frank - first performed by Polka theatre company aimed at a young audience. It included some music, if I remember correctly & some rather bizarre moments where characters burst into song."

Andrew Pring wrote: "So there is now a musical about Anne Frank and some Jews are outraged at this. Why the silence and lack of outrage when the racist Baron Sacha Cohen ridicules a whole Muslim nation and makes a fortune doing so? Why is there total silence when a musical is performed making light of Hitler when Hitler in Springtime - a 'joke' from the Producers went onto the stage? Why was everyone so quiet, and unwilling to question Mel Brooks when he was profiting from Nazism and the holocaust?"

Joe Lambert had heard the same story as Mark: "Her on-stage performance as Anne Frank was so bad that when the Gestapo marched on stage looking for her, the audience shouted out "She's in the cupboard". "

Alan Bunting heard a different punchline: "Her performance was evidently so dire that when the Gestapo appeared to search the house where she was in hiding, a member of the audience shouted 'She's in the attic!' "

And what about this from Dennis Stuart: "I own a CD (purchased in Germany some 12 years ago) of the opera "The Diary of Anne Frank," composed by Grigori FRIED and sung in Russian by the Israeli soprano Eva BEN-ZVI, accompanied by the Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. According to the insert notes, it was first performed on 18th May 1972 in Moscow, but has been performed in other Russian cities as well as in Rotterdam and in the United States (Syracuse and Indianapolis). The work is described as a mono-drama, as only one character (Anne Frank) appears on stage."

James Whitbourn thought we "may be interested to know of this earlier musical setting of the Diary of Anne Frank. Unlike the musical, Annelies is a musical setting of words taken directly from the diary, and its premiere in April 2005 at London's Cadogan Hall (with the Royal Philharmonic under Leonard Slatkin) was attended by Buddy Elias, Anne Frank's cousin, who introduced the work and has supported it personally ever since. Annelies received its US premiere in April 2007 in Princeton, New Jersey. The next performance of Annelies takes place in Blackburn Cathedral on Bank Holiday Monday, May 5th 2008.

But it seems the Pia story is not all it appears. Jon in Norway and Jeremy Sams sent us this .


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