By Mac Christie
Special to The News
A 17-year-old Lynden actress is starring as Anne Frank in a new production by Theatre Burlington.
Melina Zaccaria is playing the title role in the company’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank, which runs until Feb. 22 at Theatre Burlington.
The Highland Secondary School student said she’s enjoying the role of Anne, whose diary documents her experiences hiding from the Nazis during the German occupation of the Netherlands in the Second World War.
“It’s been a really amazing experience,” she said. “I have a wonderful cast and a wonderful director.
“I look forward to going to the theatre every day.”
Zaccaria got into acting in Grade 1 at Lynden’s Lee Academy, but her first role outside of a school play was portraying Helen Keller in Theatre Burlington’s production of The Miracle Worker.
Sondra Learn, the director of both The Miracle Worker and The Diary of Anne Frank, said Zaccaria brings Anne to life.
“She’s a wonderful natural talent with the ability to just embrace whatever role she’s had,” Learn explained. “She is very humble, she takes direction so well and she’s not afraid to take a risk.”
Learn added Zaccaria does a lot of research for her roles, which adds depth to the portrayals.
For the role of Frank, Learn said Zaccaria watched the movie several times and read the diary itself, while in preparing to play Keller, she did exercises at home wearing a blindfold and earplugs to simulate Keller’s dark, silent world.
Zaccaria said while she enjoys lighter roles as well, she’s drawn to roles like Frank and Keller.
“The people are so incredible,” she said, noting that’s part of what draws her to acting. “I think it’s a really good way of learning about different people and different times when you get to actually experience it yourself.”
While the Grade 12 student said she’s going to be taking a bit of a break soon from acting to focus on school, Learn said Zaccaria could have a future on stage.
“If she wants to pursue it, I’m sure there will be a future for her,” the director said.