“Having access to professionals in the real world, especially as a high school senior, is meaningful.”

The following post was written by Amy Azzara, a student at Mendon High School, and a participant in Geva’s Stage Door Project: The Diary of Anne Frank. Join us on Thursday, March 15th at 7:30pm on Geva’s Wilson Stage as the Mendon High School cast performs their version of The Diary of Anne Frank on the set of Geva’s own currently running production! Call for tickets to this special one-night-only event, or purchase them here.

Amy Azzara as Miep Gies
Amy Azzara

My name is Amy Azzara and I play Miep Gies in Geva’s Stage Door Project production of The Diary of Anne Frank. It has been truly an honor to be a part of this program. This past summer, I was grateful to attend Geva Theatre’s Summer Academy program. I grew and learned more than I ever could have predicted, and made lifelong friends. I learned the importance of networking, being genuine, and working hard, and I learned about myself as an actor and as a person.

This past fall, I was ecstatic to find out that my school was participating in the Stage Door Project! Geva became my second home and “safe space” over the summer, and here it was in my life again! Lara Rhyner and Skip Greer, in Geva’s education department, instilled in us Academy students that Geva was part of each of our networks now and that we could always find a home here. My Stage Door experience added weight to that statement. I have found that my experience with Geva’s Stage Door Project was just as immersive as Summer Academy was. In both experiences, the focus was on learning and getting as much as possible out of the experience.

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Bridget Welch and Amy Azzara with Kevin Plinzke, a Geva cast member, at the first rehearsal

During Stage Door, we’ve delved deeply into all aspects of theatre, and were exposed to the professional theatre world. We were able to sit in on rehearsals, meet behind-the-scenes professionals, including the Costume Designer, Sound Designer, and Stage Managers. We talked to Geva production’s Director, David Ira Goldstein, talked with Geva’s cast of actors – the list goes on and on! With Lara and Skip as a bridge between our high school production and the professional Geva production, we discussed motives, being honest and genuine onstage (and off), and how to best present such an important story like that of Anne Frank’s.

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The Geva cast and creative team of “The Diary of Anne Frank” with the Mendon Drama cast, director, and local Rochester Holocaust survivors at the first rehearsal

Geva is a welcoming community and always willing to share what it has to offer. The people involved in Geva’s Anne Frank were eager to share their expertise. I worked on the poster for our production of The Diary of Anne Frank, along with my fellow cast-mate Bayley Wivell, and we were able to talk to the marketing team at Geva to get advice and learn about the advertising process before making the poster. Having access to professionals in the real world, especially as a high school senior, is meaningful.

I had come to love Geva because of my experience over the summer, and the Stage Door Project has only strengthened that love. In this process, I have been able to use my artistic skills and my acting skills to dig deeper into my character, Miep Gies, and my people skills to learn from the people around me. This has been an experience I could bring my whole self to. What an incredible opportunity to be able to perform on the Wilson Stage, learn from professionals along the way, and continue telling the story of Anne Frank!

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The Mendon Drama cast observes load-in of “The Diary of Anne Frank” set at Geva, as well as technical rehearsals

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