Nobody wants to go to Urinetown – The Place. It’s not a very nice place. Possibly worse than being a resident of the drought-stricken town where citizens must pay to pee. And for fear of Urinetown – The Place, those citizens try their best to comply with the strict urinary regulations. But how about Urinetown – The Musical? Well, everyone wants to go there, because it’s one of the most hilarious musicals ever written. And it just finished a terrific run under the direction of Barbara Wolf over in Coronado – The Peninsula.

At the heart of the story are Bobby Strong and Hope Cladwell. Bobby’s an up-and-coming public urinal assistant who becomes the rebel leader of those who would pay no fee to pee. Hope Cladwell is the newly college-graduated, all-grown-up fax/copy girl at Urine Good Company – the unscrupulous corporation that is reaping huge profits off the backs, etc., of the city’s repressed urinators. A corporation that is owned by none other than Hope Cladwell’s father, Caldwell B. Cladwell. When Bobby leads the charge of revolution against the draconian laws, Hope is caught in the middle, and their budding love is put on yellow alert.

Donny Gersonde and Alene LynchDonny Gersonde and Alene Lynch fill the roles and work together with great comic effect. Adding to that effect is Donny’s towering height in relation to Alene’s pixieish frame – a relative height difference played up as they try to follow each other’s hearts. Donny does what he can to make it easier for Hope, including his dramatic opening of his vest and puffing out his chest so she can listen more closely (and then turning her head so she is facing the audience), and eventually grabbing a box for her to stand on. Donny makes for a charismatic leader who inspires the people into a religious frenzy in Run, Freedom, Run, perhaps none more inspired than Little Sally (Erin Petersen) who dabs Bobby’s sweaty forehead with her handkerchief, and then gets a wee bit excited over it. Alene’s Hope bubbles with sweetness, goodness, and idealism as she both speaks and sings with a sugary, sing-songy voice – even when she’s pissed. At least, it’s a sugary, sing-songy voice until we get a glimpse of the power trip she gets on, during which Alene cuts loose with a few discreet triumphant rock vocalizations to match the newfound glory in which she’s basking.

Ben Silbert gives a great character portrayal of the narrator and chief enforcer of the urine laws, Officer Lockstock, with a nice mix of melodrama, neurosis (he can’t bear to even look at the urine on the ground), and waxing philosophic with a sort of fatalistic air. Ashley Masula is the butch, physically abusive public urinal supervisor Penelope Pennywise who has great stage presence and gives a strong, belting vocal performance. Erin Petersen is the aforementioned Little Sally, the little girl who asks Officer Lockstock a lot of tough questions, with Erin making good use of both body language and sign language (in her Tell Her I Love Her duet with Bobby), as well as some innocently naïve expressions (well, not so much when she gets handed Bobby’s sweaty hanky). Max Gidaley is a clean-cut Caldwell B. Cladwell who obviously likes being firmly in control of his surroundings (he acts as a puppeteer with his obedient executive assistant (Lacey Oleary) and staff, mouthing to them what to say and letting them know when to applaud). His buttoned-up exterior belies a quick temper that you sense is always ready to burst if he’s crossed. Jacob Sampson is humorous, a bit creepy, and a bit realistic with his performance as Caldwell’s puppet in the senate who speaks with a gentle Southern accent and looks a bit like Colonel Sanders.

Travis Wright, Ben Silbert, Ashley Masula, and Lacey Oleary The ensemble does nice work both as the puppet office workers of Urine Good Company and as the poor, squirmy citizens who transform into rabid revolutionaries, with Julian Montijo and Desiree Corriente leading them in their bloodthirsty Snuff That Girl. They also shine in some great dance numbers. Urinetown – The Musical pokes a little fun at musical theatre, and choreographers Tiffany Bagg and Colleen Kollar-Smith run with the idea. The opening number plays on Ragtime with the different social groups differentiating themselves in a spinning circle while the central characters face off in the middle. There’s some Fiddler on the Roof dancing (prompting some humorous groans by one of them during some of the more arduous bottle-dance moves). And West Side Story will be played up in Snuff That Girl that includes the snapping of fingers in Hope’s face and the very pregnant Little Becky Two-Shoes doing some freaky belly dancing. And yet one can only hope that freaky pregnant belly dancing will be enough to save them all from an eternity in Urinetown.

Performed February 15 - 23, 2008.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Officer Lockstock: Ben Silbert
Little Sally: Erin Petersen
Bobby Strong: Donny Gersonde
Caldwell B. Cladwell: Max Gidaley
Hope Cladwell: Alene Lynch
Penelope Pennywise: Ashley Masula
Officer Barrel: Travis Wright
Ms. McQueen: Lacey Oleary
Senator Fipp: Jacob Sampson
Old Man Strong: Jordon Bunshaft
Josephine Strong: Elizabeth Gaiani
Hot Blades Harry: Julian Montijo
Little Becky Two-Shoes: Desiree Corriente
Soupy Sue: Darienne Orlansky
Tiny Tom: Michael Anderson
Robby the Stockfish: Francesca Fromang
Billy Boy Bill: Taylor West
Mrs. Millennium: Maddie White
Dr. Billeaux: Michael Silberblatt
Featured Dancers:
Maddy Bersin
Desiree Corriente
Gabriela Espinal
Julia Karis
Lacey Oleary
Darienne Orlansky
Isabella Verendia
Lena White
Brooke Williams

Director: Dr. Barbara Wolf
Lighting Designer: R. Craig Wolf
Scenic Designer: Susan Scharpf
Costume Designer: Rosie Masula
Choreographers: Tiffany Bagg and Colleen Kollar-Smith
Stage Manager: Adrian Gonzalez


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