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Inside Reel view and Interview with Bartender Alexa @taptalkwmarshelle (Instagram)
Photo By: Charles Osgood (from left) Jonah D. Winston, Eileen Doan, Daniel Desmarais, Leslie Ann Sheppard, Will Wilhelm and Ana Silva in Theater Wit’s Mr. Burns, a post-electric play
What would you do if your life was turned upside down and everything you knew or have known was taken away from you due to unforeseen circumstances to your knowledge?
In March 2020, the pandemic was a sudden incident in everyone's life all around the world. Now that we are halfway getting back into normalcy with our daily lives and routines, Chicago theater is back open and kicking off its season with an electric shock, meaningful messages, and pop culture.
Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago's Lakeview community, returned to live shows on August 27 with Anne Washburn's Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, a brilliantly creative play that asks, "What's left when everything is taken away?"
The story begins right after a global catastrophe. Life as we know it has ended. A small group of survivors comes together for survival and safety. Shortly after a worldwide disaster, the journey examines how the story evolves seven years after that, and finally, 75 years later.
Washburn's play is separated into three acts, each centered on an episode of The Simpsons, spoofing the 1991 film Cape Fear, a remake of the 1962 film of the same name, which is based on the 1957 novel The Executioners.
ACT 1: A group of settlers after the nuclear power plant disaster (Daniel Desmarais, Will Wilhelm, Ana Silva, Jonah D. Winston, Eileen Doan, Andrew Jessop) come together to have a conversation about the worldly fiasco while recollecting on a scene of the Simpson episode where Bart is threatened, and Sideshow Bob is the villain with a twist of the movie Cape Fear.
ACT 2: Seven years later, the group has an added survivor Quincy (Leslie Ann Sheppard), in which they form a role-playing group as they recreate Simpson shows and commercials. Gibson has some conflict and is triggered past started and the fact he doesn't remember selling a script of their own pieces. The comedy comes out as they rehearse a commercial where there are hit songs such as "Eye of the tiger," "Good as hell," "Bad romance," and more. They are confronted by a car of prohibited visitors as they are done rehearsing, where it turns ugly.
ACT 3: Mr. Burns (Andrew Jessop) arrives on the boat; the Simpsons have transported themselves to safety, with his two partners in crime, Itchy and Scratchy (Eileen Doan and Daniel Desmarais).
Photo By: Charles Osgood Leslie Ann Sheppard (left) and Andrew Jessop in Theater Wit’s Mr. Burns, a post-electric play.
Burns, the evil owner of the Springfield power plant, has a final showdown with Bart Simpson (Leslie Ann Sheppard) on the boat as Bart's family is caught up in the middle of the conflict.
Bart experiences a significant loss that turns into a valuable life lesson from Mr. Burns – Move forward even after you conquer the battle alone, eagerly move forward. Who won the competition, you may ask, well come see for yourself.
Wit's 2015 Chicago premiere of Mr. Burns was one of the company's most acclaimed productions ever, and post-pandemic, it couldn't be more prescient. Wit's new production revival also reunites many of the original cast and creative team.
Theater Wit Artistic Director Jeremy Wechsler is thrilled to be back directing. Returning cast members Daniel Desmaris, Andrew Jessop, Tina Muñoz Pandya, and Leslie Ann Sheppard are joined by Eileen Doan, Ana Silva, Jonah D. Winston, and Will Wilhelm, making their Theater Wit debut.
The music is by Michael Friedman. The production team includes Eugene Dizon, musical director; Brigitte Ditmars, choreography; Joe Schermoly, set; Heather Gilbert, lights; Mara Blumenfeld, costumes; Jonathan Berg-Einhorn, props; David Woolley, fight choreography; and Katie Klemme, stage manager.
In the end, the most prominent message is, what side do you choose, Love or Hate? Even when we are faced with life, hard lessons, and loss, we move forward in life. Love is what keeps the memories alive, for there are people on earth and the other side cheering you on.
Performances start this Friday, September 10: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7 p.m.; Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Regular performances are $36-$54. Theater Wit is located at 1229 N. Belmont Ave., in the Belmont Theatre District in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. For tickets and information, visit TheaterWit.org or call (773) 975-8150.
Note: Everyone (including audience members) at Theater Wit is required to be vaccinated to enter the building. Each audience member over 11 years of age must show proof of vaccination at the door for admittance. Electronic photos and copies are acceptable. If you are unable to be vaccinated for any reason, you may show negative results from a PCR test for COVID-19 administered in the last 48 hours as an alternative. Unvaccinated patrons must remain masked for the duration of their visit. Visit TheaterWit.org for more details.