In a world where water is short, something’s got to give. In this town, plumbing is what gives. No one is allowed their own toilet, nor are they permitted to pee where they please. Public privies charge a fee so the government can horde the cash. When citizens fail to abide by the rules, officers bring them to a mysterious place called Urinetown, where they never return from.
Urinetown is a comical musical which borders on the melodramatic. The original book and lyrics are written by Greg Kofis. The Albion College production has music and lyrics by Mark Hoffland, with stage director Robert Starko and music director Nicholas Laban.
Bobby Strong is a strapping lad working at Penelope Pennywise’s public toilet. When his father can’t afford to pay to pee, he urinates in public, sentencing him to Urinetown. Bobby begins to question the laws, but it is only when he meets the positive young lady, Hope, that he is inspired to follow his heart to fight for the right to pee.
Meanwhile we meet big wig Caldwell B. Cladwell, who is plotting and scheming with Senator Fipp and his crew of devious secretaries to wring the people of the city dry, cash wise, and take an extravagant trip to Rio. Cladwell’s daughter, Hope, starts working as a copy and fax girl at the company, and she is excited about the new opportunity, but also oblivious to the evils.
Things take a harsh turn when the rebellion begins, Bobby takes his love, Hope, hostage and demands are made from both sides. No one seems to be moving an inch until death threats begin. The exciting end comes swiftly as heart felt deaths, new found leadership, and the reality of Urinetown are unfolded.
This play features toe-tapping jazzy music numbers with fifties style dancing and a dynamic, multi-leveled stage. A must see for sure!
The set was very interesting. It was a two story background with doors and platforms to make for a dynamic and full stage. It was colorful and punny movie posters showcasing potty-themed horror genres bordered the stage. Peter Verhaeghe designed the stage and lighting as a part of his senior thesis.
The live music was delightful. The score was jazzy and fun. It made the experience east to get absorbed in, and helped establish the mood of the show.
I personally enjoyed all the new faces in this show. Many first year students were cast in larger roles, allowing me to not expect anything going in. The cast was large, but effective and they worked well together.
The dancing was a joy to watch. The cast was in sync and although the numbers were simple, they were lively enough to hold attention and get some laughs.
Bobby Strong (Jacob Terberg, first year) was a confident stage presence with a powerful singing voice. He projected well and had very nice chemistry with Hope. Their duet was pleasing to the ear.
Caldwell B. Cladwell (Chris Herweyer, sophomore) had a sly attitude and walked with his head high. He sang with poise and was overall a joy to watch.
Hope Cladwell (Kailey Henderson, first year) was wide-eyed and peppy. She had a wide range in her voice and projected well. Her emotions were portrayed believable and I would like to see her again.
Little Sally (Abby Radwick, sophomore) unsurprisingly enough, plays the kooky weird girl excellently. Her downcast gaze and sweet tone portray a little girl well.
Ms. McQueen (Brittnew DeShano, junior) was a pleasure to watch. Although the role wasn’t a huge one, her singing voice could be heard clearly, and her facial expressions always related to unfolding events.
Officer Barrel (Terra Travis, first year) was a solid stage presence. She spoke clearly and had great chemistry with her partner in crime- preventing crime that is. Cop Song was a personal favorite of mine thanks to her and Bryan.
Officer Lockstock (Michah Bryan, senior) also acted as a narrator who broke the fourth wall by talking right to the audience. His condescending attitude and witty one-liners made for a funny and yet dark character.
Penelope Pennywise (Christina McKim, senior) came across as strong and wary at the same time. She played a complicated character well and had a powerful singing voice.
What Could Use Improvement
Cladwell’s two assistants aside from Ms. McQueen were difficult to hear.
The character death by falling had ill-timed landing thump noises.
Radwicks solo had some squeaky high-notes which could have easily been sung at a lower octave to fit the singer’s range.
Some scenes had very low light, which I didn’t always think fit the mood.
Terberg could do better with facial expressions. Most of the time ha was rather plain-faced.