Director Mr. Menke leading the Mr. Burns cast in rehearsal (Kelsea Andrews )
Director Mr. Menke leading the Mr. Burns cast in rehearsal

Kelsea Andrews

Mr. Burns: The Simpsons-Inspired Play You Can’t Miss!

October 18, 2022

The acting department at the Academy for the Performing Arts never disappoints when it comes to their shows. Whether it’s Blithe Spirit or Hamlet, these actors have a wide range of talent that never lets the audiences down. 

This fall season, the Acting department is performing Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play. The actors and director couldn’t be more excited to introduce you to the post-apocalyptic story based in the world of the popular television show The Simpsons. Jacob Menke, the director of the show who is the genius behind past shows like She Kills Monsters and Play On! said, “Mr. Burns really is a unique and exciting play, definitely unlike anything APA has done in a long time.”

Actor Cass Dow leading her cast mates in acting warm-ups before rehearsal begins (Photography by: Kelsea Andrews)

Mr. Burns is a play that tells the tale of a group of survivors retelling the story of The Simpsons episode Cape Feare (season 5, episode 2) shortly after a global calamity. The story continues after the collapse of society after multiple nuclear-based disasters, examining how the story of The Simpsons has changed after seven years, and then eventually 75 years later.

Noella Egelsee, who portrays Jenny in the show, described the show as a “very weird, dark comedy take on how people would perform The Simpsons.”

Egelsee said the show is “hard to understand at first, but once you know what it’s about it’s a really interesting show with many comedic and dramatic moments.”

Menke was excited to cast the show with the help of his assistant directors and the audition was generally traditional. He required actors to prepare one comedic monologue or one dramatic monologue to show the actor’s abilities to act in comedy or dramatic situations.

Menke remarked, “[This is] because the show has both intense dramatic scenes and farcical comedy.” 

Actor Perspectives:

Sky Saucedo, a senior Acting major, described the auditions as a quick process.

“As I came back out, it was strange just being out and being like, ‘oh dang I just auditioned, that was it, it’s over,'” said Saucedo.

Some of the topics in the show are heavy. “Sometimes it gets a little sad when we get into the parts of talking about loved ones who didn’t make it through the apocalypse, but putting in the depth for the show is entertaining in itself,” Saucedo said.

Grady Farman, another acting senior shared that the best audition technique is to just “be yourself.” Farman argued that the whole point of auditioning is to put yourself out there to the director. He also shared that he got the role of Orcus in She Kills Monsters last year because he did a “fun southern accent” on the spot, which proves crazy choices in the arts could be your ticket to getting a role.

Actress Kaia Podd memorizing lines for her character “Jenny” (Kelsea Andrews)

Menke also talked about the unique process. “I gave the actors a series of movement prompts, to see how they interacted with one another, and to see whether they were willing to look a little silly.” 

He knew his actors needed to be comfortable performing “wacky stunts” because of the hilarious nature of the Simpsons television show. 

Kaia Podd, an Acting major, was also part of the production. “This was a very non-conventional callback, as we would usually read scenes from the script and the director would decide which characters we should read for, but this is a very non-conventional show, so a non-conventional callback made sense.”

After casting, the show started to be put together with all the actors working together, and apart, to create their characters to bring to life on the stage.  Podd said, “as we stage the show, we’re defining our characters’ relationships with one another, and are giving each of them defining characteristics to different one another.” She explained that all the characters have vague lines that hint at their backgrounds and who they were as a character before the tragedy hit.

Menke explained that with how long the show is, he’d like to focus on getting blocking done with both casts, but makes sure “every minute of rehearsal is used efficiently.”

Director Mr. Menke leading the Mr. Burns cast in a blocking rehearsal (Photography by: Kelsea Andrews)

Egelsee explained that having two casts is still efficient and that they’ll usually use one cast to learn the blocking for a new scene, and then have their doubles rehearse it as well before moving on. Saucedo described the rehearsals as “fun and random” with there being equally dramatic and comedic moments in their acting processes. The actor enjoys the process of learning how to block. “Once you get to the blocking on stage you start to place the tone of the lines and it’s way funnier than when you read it the first time,” she said.

Farman believes that the best way to memorize and help yourself get into character is just to take the time to do it. “I know it seems like a weird thing to say, but procrastinating will bite you in the a– really hard when reviewing already blocked parts,” he said.

To stay ahead of the game Farman takes 30 minutes out of his day to memorize a few lines. “It doesn’t have to be a lot, but at least a page or two depending on how many lines you have.”

Menke said the best part about working with young actors is how excited everyone is to be in the rehearsal room and have such “a passion for the art.” 

He loves the refreshing ideas and concepts he would have never thought of, and the actors all love working with Menke as well, with Saucedo saying he’s “beyond fun to work with.”

 Podd who’s been in the acting program for four years and is familiar of Menke’s unique directing techniques. “There’s a collaborative narrative of the apocalyptic event that took place prior to the start of the script and starting creating backstories for each of our characters and how they fit in this world and how the event has changed them and led them to where they are now.” 


All the hard work the actors and directors are putting into such a complex show is difficult, but all of the actors shared their favorite things about the play.

Actors Grady Farman, Kayla Witecki, Elias Greenbaum, and Kaia Podd run lines while waiting for rehearsal to start (Kelsea Andrews )

Director Menke described the show as “camp, like the 2019 Met Gala.” He also said there will be a “very exciting ‘electric dawn’ but I’ll let people see the show to see what that means.”

Farman described the show as “subversive.” 

“The show is so odd it’ll leave you on the edge of your seat.” 

Claire Tunstall, a junior in the APA program said the show is “crazy.” 

“It somehow connects real-world problems to an event after the apocalypse while staying futuristic in a weird way.”

Egelsee says the show “is such a different take on the show the Simpsons, but it also goes into real drama and different interesting scenarios that make people think about life itself,” and that “you won’t be sorry if you go see Mr. Burns!” 

Podd called the show “electric” with an extremely relatable story, saying that it has “the perfect mix of comedy, drama, and unexpected twists that are sure to keep an audience entertained.” 

Cass Dow says the show “has a great balance between funny and dark” and is funny in an ominously exciting way.


The actors and directors working hard on the show all agree that this show is unlike anything that their acting program has ever done before. Such a different take on the Simpsons that is realistic and imaginative that can make you think while laughing at the Simpson-level humor. Mr. Burns is sure to keep people entertained with its high energy, and unique experience right down to the seating. Menke said he wants the show to be an “immersive experience”, so the tech crew and directors are going to work together to create the vision Menke created for this eccentric show. 

The Blackbox Theater will be transformed into a lobby, and the audience will enter through the loading dock onto the main stage, where they will be seated. Menke also said they’d be projecting the episode the show is based on, Cape Feare, before the show along the backside of the curtain for the audience to watch, as well as during Intermission. He also assures that you don’t have to see the episode, or even any of the Simpsons, to still have a great time at the show. 

Menke also jokingly said to make sure to come to see the show or “[APA will] be doing Romeo and Juliet every year for the next five years.”

Some of the Mr. Burns cast that is working hard at rehearsal to put together this wacky show! (Kelsea Andrews)

He would also like to add a trigger warning for those who come to see the show, as there will be a scene that realistically portrays gun violence midway through the act. 

Make sure to go see the fantastic casts, the show will be opening on November 10th and will be running from the 13th to the 17th and closing on the 18th, with two casts alternating every other day. The play’s connection to the Simpsons makes it truly unparalleled to the previous plays they’ve done. Everything about it from the references to the Simpsons to the fact that the audience will be sitting on the stage with the cast creates a unique perspective people are sure to enjoy!

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