Story by Ashley Bolek, Reporter
Photo courtesy of The Westerly Sun
And cut to Dog Story Theatre, a local community theatre that hosts local playwrights’ new plays and is home to Actors’ Theatre’s “Second Space.” Actors’ Theatre recently put on “Mr. Burns: A Post Apocalyptic Play” and “American Idiot” over on the main stage, but during the off season from the main shows, they move to Dog Story Theatre and put on some smaller plays, such as “A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney.”
Taken from the Actors’ Theatre website, as a “dark and funny exposé on Walt Disney, this show puts you in a conference room with Walt as he reads his latest screenplay. Another sweet and enduring family-friendly animated film? NOPE, not in his plans this time. Instead, it’s about his last days on earth. It’s about a city he’s going to build that’s going to change the world. And it’s about his brother. It’s about everyone who loves him so much, and it’s about how sad they’re going to be when he’s gone. Right? I mean, how can they live without him? How can anyone live without him?”
The play is directed by Aquinas’ head of the Theatre Department, Randy Wyatt; stars AQ student and Grand Award Nominee Eric Hand; and Dara Kammeraad, another AQ student, is the assistant director.
From the moment Don VandenHeuvel, Walt Disney, walked onto the stage and started to read off stage directions, I could tell the audience was drawn in by his soothing voice that sounded a lot like Walt Disney real voice. Even with such a minimal set of just a conference table and chairs, the audience is brought to that conference room and it feels like you are right there as if Disney was reading it directly to you.
Even though the actors make little movement besides some walking, the play is still engaging enough for the audience to stay focused. And if there was a part of his life that Disney did not want us to see, he would say, “Cut to” and bring us forward in time.
This play shows what kind of strain fame and fortune can put on families. It shows the complex brotherhood between Walt and Roy trying to share the company, and between Walt and his daughter trying to keep their relationship alive.
The play is a great example of having a dark theme with humor interwoven. Even with the heavy subjects of death and family throughout the show, the audience can still manage to laugh until the final scene.
“A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney” runs January 25 through 28 at Dog Story Theatre on Jefferson Ave. in Grand Rapids. Tickets are $20 dollars for general and $15 dollars for students, and the show starts at 8 p.m.
And cut to a black out.