“Mr. Burns” proves to be an apocalyptic success


Story by Ashley Bolek, Reporter 
Photo courtesy of Actors’ Theatre

As I took my seat, I could overhear two people going over what they thought the plot of the show was going to be. From hearing what they thought the show was going to be like, I could already tell they were in for a ride.

“Mr. Burnsis the first show in Actors’ Theatre’s 36th Season. It takes place post-apocalyptic in Upstate New York. There are three different acts all taking place in the future. Act I takes place in 2017, just a few months after what seems to be a nuclear meltdown. Act II takes place seven years after the meltdown, and finally Act III takes place after 75 years.

The first two acts follow Matt, Jenny, Maria, Sam, Gibson, Quincy, and Colleen. They are seven random people who just happen to have run into each other after the meltdown. While they sit around a fire, they start to retell the old “Simpsons” episode “Cape Feare.” Then, when the story moves forward, they have started to perform the episode for people around the country. They are buying lines from people and using them to piece together more episodes. Then, in the final act, the show has finally progressed to a full musical with drama, action, and comedy.

As director, Randy Wyatt states in his director’s note, “Some will enjoy it purely for the Simpsons’ references and pop music…Some will be drawn to it because it is an apocalypse story…Some will appreciate it as a metaphor for the enduring nature of theatre.”

The stage was beautifully crafted by showing the progression of the sets starting with a simple couch, to moving to backdrops and elaborate set pieces, and finally ending with a complete stage with lighting that symbolizes when someone dies or when the enemy is on stage.

The costumes were perfect for what the characters would have after the apocalypse, such as using a safety helmet as Homer’s head and rubber ducks as Lisa’s head. The costumes also were reminiscent of Greek costuming back from ancient times.

The crowd was a very mixed bag of those who liked it and who did not. It seemed to me that the older crowd seemed to not enjoy it as much as the younger crowd. Theatre people seemed to understand the meaning of the play more than just the general audience who came out to watch.

If you are looking for something to do these next two weekends, I highly recommend seeing this show. I also recommend reading up on the background of the play beforehand to help follow some of the story better. The play runs Sept. 29 thru Oct. 8 at Actors’ Theatre off of Fountain Street in Grand Rapids. Tickets for students are $22 and for general admission they are $28. They also offer student rush tickets for $10 the night of the show, one hour before hand. This is a great play to see especially if you are a lover of theatre and love the evolution of theatre.

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