What better way to grace the walls of their new theatre in Orlando than with a show about public urination? Well, just so long as the show has all the required ingredients of a successful musical. In case you don’t know what they are, they’ve provided a large checklist scrawled on the back wall. A flashy opening number (check), a romantic love song (check), unnecessary dancing (check), an inspiring song (check), a happy ending (well, Little Sally, we can’t give away the unhappy ending in a theatre review).

Director Caitlin Kimball and an extraordinarily full cast of great comic actors turned this quirky satire even quirkier, and the result could make you laugh until you publicly urinate. It’s a fairly black box production that begins before it begins with the cast milling about, using the stage as a green room as they prepare for their flashy opening number (which will use flashlights), slowly finishing up putting on their costumes. During the rest of the show, cast members not in the scene simply turn to look at the theatre walls. During intermission, they mingle with the audience while begging for pennies to pee. No bathroom breaks for the actors in this production.

The set is simple but effective – a wall made up of a bunch of boxes emblazoned with the letters UGC (for the Urine Good Company that runs the public urinals for a tidy profit). Within that wall is the door to the costly public urinal – a place all people in the area must go to relieve themselves after a severe drought brings about draconian methods of water conservation (and UGC bribes the government to give them a monopoly on the vital public service). And out of that urinal door comes our narrator of the show and the enforcer of the new laws, Officer Lockstock (Dominique Minor), who zips up his fly and begins his calmly melodramatic narration with great dry wit. Much of his narration is given to our young question-asker, Little Sally. In this case, it’s a Little Sally with hairy legs and a bad wig played by Bruce Costella. But gender is not the only thing original about this Little Sally, with Bruce creating a hilarious character that can be innocent or carnal, dumb or brilliant, speaking with a girl voice or a quick dose of a boy voice – all combining for a great new take on the character.

Of course, every good musical has a pair of romantic leads. And so does Urinetown. Erik Nelson is our hero Bobby STRONG, a worker at the local public urinal who turns into the charismatic leader of a rebellion. Eliza Solomon is our heroine HOPE Cladwell, the ditzy blonde daughter of the CEO of UGC, who falls for Bobby and then begins to see the ugly side of her father’s business. Both do great work portraying wide-eyed idealists who discover their passions for fighting for freedom and their passions for each other’s hearts, and chests, in their amusing duet Follow Your Heart. Fredy Ruiz is Hope’s father Caldwell B. Cladwell, delivering a memorable performance as the callous CEO who absolutely loves to be pampered by his adoring employees. Other good performances come from Toccara Scott as the tough urinal supervisor Penelope Pennywise and Michael Birdsall as Caldwell’s very gay executive assistant Mr. “McQueen.” 

So much of the strength of this production comes from the smaller characters, with the group at Orlando Youth Theatre being full of great comic actors who fill their roles with hysterical personalities, making you want to concentrate on each one of them. Just a few examples include the highly expressionable Tiffany McGlinchey as a hysterical bisexual nymphomaniac who gets turned on by everything and never misses a chance to grope a fellow cast mate (or herself, which she does as innocently as possible when delivering the memorable line “What does he mean, no one is innocent?”). Luis Lucas is Tiny Tom suffering from several severe nervous twitches and neuroses. Amber Paoloemilio is a rip as the ready-to-pop pregnant woman Little Becky Two-Shoes with a brace on her knee that Bobby almost heals in the heat of his “inspiring song.” Xixi Li takes the cake for bizarre behavior when she begins chewing slowly on a bunch of Hope’s hair as the debutante is tied to a chair, Xixi apparently savoring each and every strand.

The show is chock full of such random humor and great use of the few props: Little Becky Two-Shoes pushing out a plastic baby while singing the lyric “push” and then tucking it haphazardly headfirst into the top of her dress, cutting Hope off from singing another song by stuffing Little Sally’s teddy bear into her mouth, waving meaningful protest signs such as “I’m Upset!” and “Bobby is a Hottie,” cast members hiding behind boxes as they hold up some plastic, lighted stars (two that are lit, one that supposedly doesn’t work) and a paper heart to set the romantic mood during Follow Your Heart, and Haley Gmach as a UGC executive infatuated with hairspray who constantly uses it on her own hair, fixes Caldwell’s hair when the employees are giving him a spa treatment, and uses her hairspray as a mist machine when the ghost of Bobby’s father appears with words of questionable wisdom. It’s also full of equally random choreography by Ben Smith that works perfectly for the show, with characters doing all sorts of “unnecessary dance” moves with a lot of individuality, plus one revolving huddle as they unite against the common enemy – those who would stop them from their inalienable right to pee.

Performed July 13-22, 2007.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Officer Lockstock: Dominique Minor
Penelope Pennywise: Toccara Scott
Bobby Strong: Erik Nelson
Little Sally: Bruce Costella
Hope Cladwell: Eliza Solomon
Mr. McQueen: Michael Birdsall
Senator Fipp: Andrew Harbin
Old Man Strong: Thomas McGlinchey
Hot Blades Harry: James Smith
Soupy Sue: Emily Patterson
Tiny Tom: Luis Lucas
Little Becky Two-Shoes: Amber Paoloemilio
Josephine Strong: Emily Rogers
Robby the Stockfish: Kisha Peart
Billy Boy Bill: Xixi Li
Officer Barrel: Megan Fabian
Caldwell B. Cladwell: Fredy Ruiz
Dr. Billeaux: Joey Fabian
Mrs. Millennium: Tiffany McGlinchey
UGS Executives: Haley Gmach, Cecilia Tran

Director: Caitlin Kimball
Musical Director: Jason Whitehead
Assistant Director/Choreographer: Ben Smith


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