Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Theatre in the Park "Urinetown" review by dramapapa

It's a Privilege to see Urinetown!
Rating: 5

The Theatre in the Park

I had the opportunity to see "Urinetown" this past weekend at The Theatre in the Park and for two hours I didn't stop laughing, applauding, whistling, and thoroughly enjoying myself. This is just an incredibly funny and clever show and was performed flawlessly on the night I attended.

It was interesting speaking to a number of people before the show who almost didn't come because of the title. It's important to know that this show is not about potty humor and is not offensive. As a matter of fact the show itself refers several times to what an awful title it has. Due to years of severe draught in order to save water people are required to use public amenities and pay for their use (the "central conceit" of the show). Along with this you have the rich, those who charge fees to use the bathrooms, and the poor, those who want to go for free. Very relevant to what we see in our society even now (notice during one scene signs mentioning "Occupy" and "99%").

Eric Geil as the hero Bobby Strong does a wonderful job in his TTIP debut. He has a beautiful singing voice and in the number "Run, Freedom, Run", had the audience whistling and applauding well before the number even ended. Alyssa Cooper is adorable as Hope Cladwell. She begins with such innocence to her character and by the end of the show you see she is a true Cladwell. Eric Magnus reprises his role as Caldwell B. Cladwell and is a wonderful villain as the head of Urine Good Company, the entity which controls and charges for the use of the amenities. Catherine Boone as Penelope Pennywise, David Thompson as Hot Blades Harry (creepy, but in a good way), and Reed Uthe as Mr. McQueen also stand out with very enjoyable and funny performances. There is not a weak member of this cast.

However, it is Kipp Simmons as Officer Lockstock and Jennifer Cannady Thezan as Little Sally who transcend this show to another level. Throughout the show Lockstock and Little Sally break away from the scene to give a running narrative/commentary to the audience which creates some of the funniest theatre you will ever see. Just with a well timed glance to the audience Kipp will have you howling. Jennifer who plays this sweet little character (and very smart for her age) asks Lockstock a lot of the same questions the audience might have while watching the show...outside of hydraulics, I hadn't thought of that. The timing between these two and the way they play off each other is brilliant. I would also say that these two rival any professional actors who've played these roles on any tour, and dare I say even Jeff McCarthy and Spencer Kayden from the original Broadway cast (ok, I dared to say it). They really are that good together.

The set for this show was perfect for the story and I love the way multiple levels were used. They even went below the stage, which is something I don't think I've ever seen out at TTIP. Vocally, every actor in this cast is obviously very talented, and each song was wonderfully done. Of course with Martha Risser vocal directing I wouldn't expect any less.

Congratulations to David Hastings for putting a wonderful show onstage. I loved what happened at the end of Act I when supposedly it was intermission. Even though during the day the weather was at 100 outside, once the sun went behind the trees and the breeze continued to blow it was extremely comfortable outside. Humidity levels are still low, so please don't let the temperature keep you away from seeing a tremendous show. I know I'll be back again for the second weekend. This is one of those shows that you have to see multiple times. Make an effort to get out to TTIP this second weekend of "Urinetown", you won't regret it.

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