Fringe review: ‘Anne Frank Superstar & The Purpose of the Moon’

Anne Frank Superstar & The Purpose of the Moon, Penguin Point Productions, Winter Park. Pink venue, 60 minutes, $10.

By Elizabeth Maupin
Elizabeth Maupin on Theater

Tori Camera, Paige Holaday, Christopher Brown, Sarah Villegas and Anthony Pyatt Jr. in 'Anne Frank Superstar' (photo by Kristen Wheeler, KHphotographics)

Some Fringe veterans are considerably louder about their achievements. But Penguin Point Productions — the alumni chapter of the theater students from Lake Howell High School — proves to have perhaps the most out-there production of the 2011 Fringe with Anne Frank Superstar & The Purpose of the Moon, a compilation of two short plays that will certainly move you and will almost as certainly blow your mind.

In the first of the two playlets, both of them adaptations by James Brendlinger, Vincent Van Gogh repeatedly slices off his ear and sends it through the mail to Marilyn Monroe, each time reaching a different conclusion. In the second, Anne Frank lives her life in the secret annex to the accompaniment of Karen Carpenter’s songs.

The first idea, taken from a story by Tom Robbins, is not such a shocking notion, even though it’s way past farfetched. But the second — the idea of telling a sacred story through songs that have often been called kitsch — will certainly offend somebody, and the concept is so startling that it actually works.

Penguin Point’s young company members could teach some of their elders how smoothly a Fringe production should move, and a number of the actors are very good: Brendan Crowgey (Vincent), Nichole Auger (Marilyn) and especially Ally Gursky as an insistent Dr. Robbins in the first piece, and a vibrant Sarah Villegas (Anne), Anthony Pyatt Jr. (Peter), Christopher Brown (Mr. Frank) and Tori Camera (Margot) in the second.

But what’s startling about the Anne Frank show is how those Carpenters songs make you look at Anne anew, make you see her as the most normal of girls in a wildly abnormal setting. Brendlinger’s ideas about Monroe, Carpenter and Anne Frank all suffering the same kind of fate — one that can be generalized to all women — may be a stretch. But it’s a thrill to see a Fringe production that tears at your heart and stretches your mind at the same time.

Remaining shows:
Monday May 23, 11:05 p.m.
Wednesday May 25, 7:50 p.m.
Saturday May 28, 6:40 p.m.

11 responses to “Fringe review: ‘Anne Frank Superstar & The Purpose of the Moon’

  1. I had the great fortune to work with these talented kids in “Spring Awakening” directed by Jeremy Seghers. I am very much looking forward to this show.

  2. They are a very serious and talented group of kids. They blew my mind during our production.

  3. Paul Castaneda

    The second piece in particular is one of the best things I’ve seen at Fringe in the last two years.

  4. I have met and talked at length with James Brendlinger on several occasions. I have even had the pleasure of working with some of his former students. I must say that I am very moved by the passion James has for the theatre education of the young people under his tutelage. The thespians at Lake Howell High School are so very lucky to be taught by an instructor who cares so much about giving them a full, well-rounded, and enriching experience in the theatre arts.

  5. Brendlinger is awesome in what he brings to his students. I always know that if a student has been trained by him, that student will bring much to the table. Villegas and all – way to GO!

  6. “Anne Frank Superstar” made me proud to be a Lake Howell alumnus, with James Brendlinger as my theater teacher, who has honored Anne’s wishes in her own immortal words, “I want to go on living even after my death!” It’s my sincere hope that this production, too, lives on. Some suggestions, as a start: FRIGID New York (whose logo features a penguin), Hollywood Fringe Festival, San Francisco Fringe Festival, Amsterdam Fringe Festival.


    Beautiful piece of theatre. Four years ago, they did a play called “Blues.” It was, also, fabulous.

  8. Saw this show last night and it is one of the best Fringe has to offer this year. Immensely moved by it.

  9. Susan Harrington

    I wanted to also mention that Paige Holaday who plays Mrs. Frank is also one of the LHHS seniors this year and although her part in the play is quite she is one of the stars from the LHHS Theater Company. I also wanted to compliment the very young stage manager for this show… she is a Freshman, Kaitlyn Harrington who was pick by her company to join them and this is her first stage managing position. She had the honor of working with Paige Holiday during one of the performances at school, so she had an amazing teacher… Congratulations to all who are a part of this production from the crew to the performers, the director and teacher and let’s not forget the stage managing… You all should be very proud….

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