Urinetown the Musical
Book and lyrics by Greg Kotis
Music and lyrics by Mark Hollman
Directed Julia Allardice Gagne
Musical Direction by Tim Hanes
Choreographed Lesley Brasseux Rodgers
Starring Melina Countryman, Brett p Carson, and Antonio Morillo
Valencia College Theatre, Orlando, FL
I’ve seen this self-referential fourth wall breaker a few times before, but never with these high production values. Yeah, the sound takes a few songs to settle down, that seems to be a trend in local theatre today but once that’s taken care of, the remaining show rocks. Water is scarce in the future, and the right to piddle is controlled by the megalomaniacal Caldwell B Cladwell (Carson) and his “Urine Good Company.” They finagle to raise the pee fee, and a riot soon breaks out lead by lowly Bobby Strong (Morillo). The revolt starts at Penelope Pennywise’s (Janine Papin) Public Convenience #9 and soon involves Caldwell’s daughter Hope (Countryman). Not only willing hostage, she’s the dreamer with the cash, and the plebs triumph and all is apparently well, UGC falls and urine is flowing like wine. Well, not very good wine, soon Earth’s limited water supple is brackish, silty and things are worse than before.
The set is astounding, and there’s a full orchestra down in the pit so you know this is a high class show. Carson looks the part of Caldwell, he’s a roll up of Scrooge McDuck, Uncle Pennybags and J.P. Morgan. Behind his desk is a huge portrait, I hope he gets to take it home. Commenting on the show we have Officer Lockstock (Tyler Robert Conrady) and Little Sally (Dorothy Christopher). She asks why we can’t discuss hydrology and irrigation, he points out a musical comedy has to stick to one big idea. And he’s not afraid of the rabble rioting either, after all narrators are immune to violence in stage. The love story between Hope and Bobby is tolerable, they don’t seem to have the chemistry real lovers need, but they do pull of some nice duets. I also give big points to Rodgers’ choreography, these were all huge dance numbers and the synchronization was Busby Berkley perfect and Bill Warriner’s fight direction kept everyone eyes and ears firmly attached.
“Urinetown” is an odd play, it ultimately takes the side of the evil industrialist and points out sometimes you have to ration scarce resources to keep things going. There’s a parallel here with new and old communism: once you rob the wealthy, nationalize everything profitable and load up the payroll with party insiders, you’ve pretty much blew your wad and the future isn’t going to get better. Urinetown encapsulates that 20th century lesson, and after you’ve applauded and ovated, you will have something to argue about all the way home. And isn’t that the best part of a show?
For more information on Valencia College Theatre, please visit http://valenciacollege.edu/artsandentertainment/theater/