Photo by Isaac Schweer, WJON

ST. CLOUD -- One of the most harrowing true stories of the 20th century hits the Paramount Theatre stage this weekend as GREAT Theatre presents The Diary of Anne Frank.

It's a grittier version of the story about a Jewish family in hiding during the rise of the Nazi regime in WWII that weaves themes of suspense, claustrophobia, and hope.

"[The show] isn't as geared towards sentimentalism," says director Jeffrey Bleam. "The arguments are nastier, the tensions these people were living under are much more focused on."

"One of the main things we try to do in directing a show this heavy, is to find as much humor as possible in the moments because once we see the humor in the characters, then we start to care about them more."

The show features a relatively small cast of 11 actors that Bleam says is one of the best groups he's ever worked with.

The lead role of Anne belongs to 16-year-old Ahnika Lexvold, who says it's been a great experience to play such an inspiring historical figure.

"I've always thought the diary was very inspiring and Anne would be a very interesting character to play," Lexvold says. "I get to show such a range of emotions in this show -- it's been very rewarding to me."

The Diary of Anne Frank runs this Friday (7:00 p.m.), Saturday (7:00 p.m.), and Sunday (2:00 p.m.), and again next weekend with the same schedule.

Photo by Isaac Schweer, WJON