"The Diary of Anne Frank" is an emotional play, but it's also about hope and coping, said some of the Olentangy High School students who will appear in the show next week.

"The Diary of Anne Frank" is an emotional play, but it's also about hope and coping, said some of the Olentangy High School students who will appear in the show next week.

Four performances are scheduled: 7 p.m. on May 8-10 with a 2 p.m. matinee on May 10. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students.

The story is about Anne Frank, her family and other friends -- all Jews -- who hid from the Germans for two years in an attic before being discovered in the summer of 1944 and imprisoned in concentration camps. Anne's diary, which her father discovered after his liberation, is the basis for the story line of the play written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett.

"I wanted to give my kids the experience to play dramatic roles. My kids were hungry for a drama," director Sarah Tobin said. "This show has several rich roles."

She also wanted to give more students an opportunity to appear on stage, so all but two character roles have understudies. The understudies will perform in the matinee, as well as preview performances for Olentangy middle school students.

"It's really interesting to see other people take on your role," said Brit McKinley, who plays Anne. Her understudy is Jordyn Rees.

Watching each other on the stage gives each actor a different perspective of the show, said Leah Baker who plays Mrs. Frank. Her understudy is Candice Schlagel.

"You may think you've done a scene really good, then you see them do it even better and it gives you ideas to help you make the scene cleaner," said Blake Sheldon, who plays Peter. His understudy is Vince Gay.

Her character is different from the comedic, boisterous characters she's played in the past, Baker said. "It helps me to remember that these were real people, in real situations, in really hard times that were pressed upon them," she said. "I think it's also important to remember that this is not just a show about the Holocaust. It's a show about coping with situations they get thrown into."

While many people know who Anne Frank was, they might not know the details of those two years and what the group of eight went through emotionally, she said. "Everybody knows the story but to learn about the individuals ... this horrific event they went through, makes it even more important to see it." While no one can change history it "does remind you that there is bad stuff in the world but you can be part of taking it out."

"It is a very emotional play," Sheldon said. The characters are shy when they enter the attic but begin to open up to each other. "By the end of the play you know everything about them. ... You know what's going to happen but you don't want it to happen."

"Anne and Peter have this connection and you really start rooting for them," McKinley said. "It's the worse sort of irony. Everyone knows they die at the end but everyone's hoping that there will be some twist of the plot and they will come out unscathed."

"It does get pretty depressing in some of the more intense scenes," said Kristen Watts, who plays Margot. Her understudy is Hannah Simpson. "But I also see it as an enriching experience to be able to get into someone's head like that, especially someone who really lived. It made me understand the Holocaust better."

"I'm shocked how these kids really dig deep down, break down and cry on stage. They've really filled these roles well," Tobin said.

The show is done in "gray scale," Tobin said, with each scene losing more color to mimic the black and white photographs from that era. At the end the only color on stage is the yellow Star of David and a pair of red high heels. "We've got a great group of techies who have really tried hard to use visuals to carry the show to conclusion," she said.

Also appearing in the cast are Karen Watts and understudy Cassie Ryan as Mrs. Van Daan; Whitney Weber as Miep; Andre Rocca and understudy Ben Nagel as Mr. Frank; Brandon Maldonado and understudy Matt Dorph as Mr. Van Daan; Alex Huffman and understudy Jon Mansour as Mr. Dussel; Tobi McHardy as Mr. Kraler; and Jared Vance, Dan Woda and Mikhail Viznyuk as Nazis.