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The cast the play including Alexa Kartschoke as Itchy, Joseph Marciniak as Matt and Jennifer Sanchez as Maria.
The cast the play including Alexa Kartschoke as Itchy, Joseph Marciniak as Matt and Jennifer Sanchez as Maria.

The cast of the Department of Theatre and Dance production of “Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play” includes Alexa Kartschoke (front) as Itchy. Joseph Marciniak (back left) as Matt and Jennifer Sanchez as Maria.

  • February 14, 2022
  • Doug Osborne-Coy

The art of storytelling takes center stage when the Department of Theatre and Dance presents “Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play” as the next offering in the Walter Gloor Mainstage Series.

The production runs from Feb. 25 to March 5 in Bartlett Theatre on the Fredonia campus. Dates and show times are Feb. 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 27 at 2 p.m., and March 3, 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are available through the Fredonia Campus Ticket Office in the Williams Center and by phone at 716-673-3501.

“Mr. Burns” is described as an “imaginative dark comedy propels audiences forward nearly a century, following a new civilization stumbling into its future.” After the collapse of civilization, a group of survivors share a campfire and begin to piece together the plot of “The Simpsons” episode “Cape Feare” entirely from memory. This format of storytelling becomes the live entertainment of a post-apocalyptic society trying hard to hold onto its past.

Theatre and Dance faculty member Daniel F. Lendzian serves as the director of the Mainstage production. He hopes “Mr. Burns” will create an appreciation of storytelling.

“‘Mr. Burns’ asks the question, what are the stories that we tell, and re-tell, and how do those stories shift and change through time?  What will outlast us?  Why do we need to tell stories?  And how of do the myths of yesterday create the stories of tomorrow?” Lendzian said. “These questions make ‘Mr. Burns’ a compelling show.”

“Mr. Burns” is presented in three acts, which Lendzian said are vastly different in tone, and style.

“Act one is contemporary realism. Act three is a musical. I think there is something for everyone,” the director said.

While the iconic television series “The Simpsons” is front and center in “Mr. Burns,” Lendzian said one does not need to be a fan of the series to appreciate this play.

“No one needs to be a Simpsons fan to appreciate the work. Washburn does a great job setting up the audience to fully understand the references,” he said. “Coincidently, the episode of the Simpsons samples elements of popular culture, especially the film ‘Cape Fear.’ Regardless of your familiarity with ‘The Simpsons,’ if you see ‘Mr. Burns,’ you will enjoy it.”

More than 50 students are involved in the Theatre and Dance production and the highlights are many.

“We have an incredible cast, amazing designers and a surprising script. I don’t want to give too much away, but I am blown away by the design,” Lendzian said. “I am thrilled to be working with James Welch from the School of Music faculty and student Nik Dahlen on the music for the show. Our students have been working so hard on the production and I can’t wait to share what we have created.”