The wonderful new MSU Summer Circle venue behind the Auditorium building (corner of Farm Lane and Auditorium) is a beautiful and practical showplace and “Mr. Burns” filled it with energy, and entertaining pop culture references, most notably, of course, “The Simpsons” — and the Cape Feare episode. We meet our cast of survivors, at first retelling this episode to amuse/distract themselves in a post-electric world, against a backdrop of fear and paranoia and loss. We see them again seven years later and then 75 years later, presenting increasingly elaborate, eventually almost Greek-mythologized versions of the episode, plus other homages to “the electric” and commercials as art.
The cast is to be commended for immense energy, fun choreography (by director Rob Roznowski & the cast with dance captain Andrew Buck) sometimes a cappella singing (there are three instrumentalists) music director Dave Wendelberger. Still, I came away feeling like the script by Anne Washburn was an ice cream sundae with too many toppings.
Maybe it’s meant to both entertain and “make us think” but it raises more questions than it answers. There are many possible analogies of the Simpsons to Everyman/Family — with the irrepressible stalking by Sideshow Bob… and why/how did he seem to morph into Mr. Burns in the third act? Are the multiple actual versions of Cape Fear analogous to the multiple recreations of the Simpsons episode? Are we mythologizing pop culture of the past with no good reason — or does the perpetual violence of Itchy and Scratchy et al. reflect on the perpetual fear-based nature of humanity…?
Or is it just for fun? which it is… (Don’t let “three acts” scare you; the whole show is only two hours — and you can stay for the Shel Silverstein Late Show… and come early (6:30) for the Peter Rabbit family show — which we plan to catch next week.)
It DOES get chilly when the sun goes down. Bring your lawn chairs, a jacket, and maybe a blanket? Picnic food? (concession stand available.)The rest of the Summer Circle season is listed below:
MSU’s SUMMER CIRCLE 2015: GREAT STORYTELLING
In each play, storytelling changes lives…
in the NEW COURTYARD behind the Auditorium Building
Mr. Burns, a post electric play by Anne Washburn, Score by Michael Friedman, Lyrics by Anne Washburn (Rob Roznowski director/Dave Wendelberger Musical Director) play with music
In a post apocalyptic world an episode of “The Simpsons” could be the answer to humanity.
APPROPRIATE FOR 12 and up. 6/10-13 @ 8:00PM
The Book of Liz by David Sedaris and Amy Sedaris (Ann Folino White director)
Master storyteller David Sedaris and his comedic genius sister Amy tell the story of cheese ball-maker Liz.
APPROPRIATE FOR 8 and up. 6/17-6/20 @ 8:PM
The American Plan by Richard Greenberg (Mark Colson director)
A 1960s Catskill’s resort is the perfect setting for Lili to tell her “tales” in order to survive her overbearing mother.
APPROPRIATE FOR 13 and up. 6/24-27 @ 8:00 PM
Late Night: Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein (Paige Conway director)
Children’s author Shel Silverstein takes avery adult look at life.
APPROPRIATE FOR MATURE AUDIENCE ONLY 6/12, 6/13, 6/19, 6/20, 6/26, 6/27 following the mainstage show @approximately 10:00PM
Theatre for Young Audiences: The Tail of Peter Rabbit: New play by Rob Roznowski with music by Chelle Peterson. (Deric McNish director)
Beatrix Potter’s old tale/tail gets a makeover in this new play.
APPROPRIATE FOR ALL AGES 6/12, 6/13 6/19, 6/20, 6/26, 6/27 @ 6:30 PM