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Barbara and Lloyd Cooper

 


WORLD PREMIERE OF THE DIARY BASED ON THE LIFE OF ANNE FRANK

By Rosalind Marmel California Correspondent, August 4, 2013

The Los Angeles area theater world is finally about to witness the dream of husband and wife team, singer and actress Barbara  Matteson Cooper and three time Drama-Logue Award winning musical director Lloyd Cooper come true when on August 22,  the world premiere musical, “The Diary” opens at the Scherr Forum Theatre at the famed Thousand Oaks Civics Art Plaza.

“The Diary” is directed by award winning Allan Hunt and produced by Cindy Murray.  The book, music and lyrics are by Lloyd Cooper with additional material by Barbara who will be starring in the production. 

The story begins with a 13 year old girl of today receiving the book, “Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl” as a birthday gift.  With reluctance, she begins to read the book.  Almost immediately, the reluctance vanishes as she becomes intrigued and surprised by the startling similarities between herself and the young Jewish girl who lived during World War II.  The Frank family comes to life through the eyes of the girl of today and the two families.  Their stories are presented on stage simultaneously. 

Barbara is a singer who started her career in the Catskills working every resort opening for stars such as Red Buttons, Jackie Mason, Joan Rivers, Myron Cohen and Rodney Dangerfield.  In California, she was the opening act for Phyllis Diller on a California tour.  Her TV and film work includes “The Merv Griffin Show”. “General Hospital” and Garry Marshall’s, “Valentine’s Day”.  She toured with the Harold Arlen review, “The Wizard of Arlen”.

Lloyd has received three Drama-Logue Awards for best musical direction and received awards for Plan-B Entertainment’s production of “Beauty and the Beast”.  He was recently nominated for an Ovation Award for musical direction.  He was the musical director for “Happy Days-A New Musical” written by Garry Marshall and Paul Williams and many more.  He has worked as composer, arranger, and/or conductor in TV shows such as “Matlock”, “Perry Mason” and the films “The Prince of Tides”, “Godzilla” and “The Holiday”.  Lloyd worked with Stephen Sondheim and Barbra Streisand in rehearsing and choosing the music for her “Back to Broadway” album.  He serves as musical director and orchestrator for The Rubicon.  He was also the musical director for Rubicon’s productions of “She Loves Me” and “ Fiddler On The Roof.  His credits go on and on.

Lloyd and Barbara have been happily married for 30 years after meeting in the legendary Santa Monica nightclub, The Horn.  He was the musical director and she was hired to perform.

I asked Barbara what inspired them to do their show, “The Diary.”

I received this answer:

“Our show, “The Diary” was inspired by some friends who commented to us that their 13 year old daughter was reading “Anne Frank, The Diary Of A Young Girl” and it was really “affecting her emotionally”.  The next day in conversation over dinner, Lloyd said, “I wonder why no one has written a musical based on Anne Frank”, and I, the supportive wife, responded with “so you’ll write it!”  This was in June of 2005.  By September the first draft was written.”  That began their long journey leading to their August opening at TOPAC where they will see their dreams come to fruition.

Barbara continued, “You may wonder, why do another version of Anne Frank’s story when there was already a play and a film?  There are many reasons but most importantly to Lloyd and me is to present the story with historical accuracy.  Both the play and the movie took many liberties for entertainment purposes.  For example, there were four helpers who assisted the Franks and risked their lives to do so.  They were Miep Gies, Elizabeth Voskuijl, Victor Kugler, and Johannes Kleiman.  They deserve to be remembered.  Only two were mentioned in the play and the film.  Added to that, depictions of Mr. Van Pels stealing bread were false and puts a blight on who he was for all time.  The man Anne called Dussel in her diary (which means fool in German) was actually named Fritz Pfeffer.  He had a son that was sent to England to be safe during the war who was quite bothered that his father would forever be known as a fool because of the play.  These are just a few  examples of inaccuracies and liberties taken.

Recently, we heard that some countries were considering taking The Holocaust out of the history books, as it “offends” some people.  We feel it a very important story to tell and through genre of a musical, it is now told in a new way.  The arts have always been used to tell a story and to teach, and a successful musical will go on forever.  It is our dream for “The Diary” to reach audiences all over the world so that no one can ever try to erase or forget the atrocities committed against the Jews and others during World War II.

We have done extensive research to be historically accurate in our musical.  In 2006. we did a staged reading at Garry Marshall’s Falcon Theatre and unbeknown to us, in the audience, was a survivor, named Rose De Liema.  In speaking with her after the reading, she surprised us by telling us she was in the camps with the Franks and the Van Pels and knew them, and how accurately we depicted them.  In a letter she subsequently wrote to us, she told us how beautiful she thought our musical was.

Our dream was to get it produced before all of the survivors are gone.  In our show, “The Diary”, the story unfolds as a 13-year-old girl of today reads Anne’s book.  What we see is that 13-year-old girls have the same thoughts and feelings whether they were born in 1942 or 2000 and thus we create an interest for the youth of today to see the show and hopefully create an interest in history.  The world must learn from their mistakes or we are doomed to repeat them.  As a Jew myself, I will do everything in my power to assure that the memory of the six million who perished will never be forgotten”.

I have read the synopsis of “The Diary”.  I have spoken with very trusted people familiar with the cast and the producer and have been told that the cast is terrific.  I have heard excerpts from rehearsals.  It is my personal feeling that “The Diary” deserves all the support it can get. 

“The Diary” runs August 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th at The Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, Scherr Forum Theatre.  Ticket information is available at The Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza box office, phone: (805)449-2787 email: [email protected] or www.Ticketmaster.com.

 

 
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