Welcome to Urinetown, where no one is immune to the tough laws of the drought-hit land. Just ask RC Haus, the music director at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, who gets led by the police down to the cage where they’ve thrown the other orchestra members.

And so begins Director Bill Doyle’s fun and creative trip through Urinetown, the Musical written by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis. This Tony-winning show has been springing up all over California this past year, and if it’s a harbinger of days to come, they’ve got some deadly but hilarious times to anticipate. Officer Lockstock, Matt Dray will be the one enforcing the tough environmental laws along with Lockstock’s trusty, loving sidekick Officer Barrel (Ryan Luster). And these guys love their jobs almost as much as Barrel loves Lockstock. You can tell by Lockstock’s enthusiasm when early on he blurts out Urinetown’s terrible secret – that there is no Urinetown, they just (Matt Dray melodramatically punches his fist) kill people.

People like Old Man Strong (Teddy Fantano) who doesn’t have the money to pay for a pee, and makes the fatal mistake of relieving himself on the ground of the Public Amenity, immediately gaining the notice of the police who drag him off stage by his feet as he screams to Bobby for help. That’s Bobby Strong, the old man’s son, and an assistant at the public amenity who becomes the town’s unlikely (but fully expected) rebel leader. But what will that rebellion do to his burgeoning romance with Hope Cladwell, the new fax/copy girl at Urine Good Company (the greedy corporation that runs the public amenities)? Especially since Hope is also the daughter of Urine Good Company’s CEO!

Alex Nizzoli delivers a good performance as the idealistic and determined hero Bobby Strong. Sarah Hopkins is a hilarious bundle of energy and enthusiasm for life, not letting herself get too weighed down by the bundles of faxes and copies she has to carry around the office. But she does get tied down when things get out of hand, though not before repeatedly jumping to try to get away, comically getting pulled back each time, but not giving up easily. The couple share a great duet together as they listen to each other’s hearts, Hope grabbing Bobby’s head and smothering his face into her chest just to make extra sure he can hear her heart okay. And they still have chemistry even after the rebellion threatens to tear them apart. When Bobby gets his co-rebels all riled up in a spirited Run Freedom Run number, Hope slips off her gag to start singing along. Though singing so badly off-key that Bobby smiles tenderly, gently puts the gag back in her mouth, and pats her lovingly on the head before getting his rebels charged up again.

There are several memorable supporting characters in this deeply talented ensemble. Bethany Slomka is a rip as Little Sally, the young little question-asker who helps the narration along, doing so with great comic timing and character. Alex Koutsenok is the hard-nosed Penelope Pennywise who leaves no doubt that It’s a Privilege to Pee. Mark Watkins II is the greedy Caldwell B. Cladwell with a debonair air, leading a terrific warning to Hope not to be “the bunny” who gets trampled by more powerful people (daddy manipulating Hope’s hands to re-enact how bunnies get killed, much to the horror of Hope). Cloteal Horne is terrific as the senator who sits in Cladwell’s hip pocket – in this case a female senator who is as hot for both Cladwell and his daughter as she is for the heaps and heaps of money she’s getting for pushing his bills through Congress.

The talented ensemble does a remarkable job portraying enthusiastic Cladwell employees and dysfunctional impoverished citizens living on the fringe of insanity after so many years stressing over how they are going to pay to pee. Olivia Moller and Lorenzo Burroughs lead them in their zealous Snuff That Girl. The ensemble members sport a variety of exaggerated accents and outlandish personalities, like the carrot-obsessed Carrot Woman (Chloe Rozok) and Sock Puppet Girl (Hannah Leavenworth) who mostly only carries on conversations with her handy sock puppet. And they’ve all got the hand puppets going on for the hilarious Don’t Be The Bunny number.

RC Haus and his band perform exceptionally well, imprisonment clearly agreeing with them (and no doubt wishing to avoid a worse fate). The show plays out under the lighting effects of K. Aaron Blokker and within an impressive set designed by Blokker and Travis Long, all combining to make Urinetown, the musical seem like Urinetown, a very real metaphysical place.

Performs April 3 - 12, 2008.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Officer Lockstock: Matt Dray
Penelope Pennywise: Alex Koutsenok
Bobby Strong: Alex Nizzoli
Little Sally: Bethany Slomka
Senator Fipp: Cloteal Horne
Officer Barrel: Ryan Luster
Hope Cladwell: Sarah Hopkins
Mr. McQueen: Dominic Robinson
Old Man Strong: Teddy Fantano
Tiny Tina: Victoria Matthews
Soupy Sue: Kristine Torres
Little Becky Two Shoes: Olivia Moller
Robby the Stockfish: Lorenzo Burroughs
Caldwell B. Cladwell: Mark Watkins III
Josephine Strong: Catie Marron
Hot Blades Harry: Shawn Bray
Mrs. Millennium: Sarah Goodwin
Billy Boy Bill: Javier Garcia
Bag Lady: Erin Brown
L.S. Duke: Jonathan Seligman
Ms. Twitchy: Ashley Stevens
Pepping Tom: Nicholas Newton
Gigi Giggles: Karyn Brown
Carrot Woman: Chloe Rozok
Little Phalea: Lauren Pasqual
Pee P. Peter: Sebastian Montenegro
Zaaa-ah: Edrian Pangilian
Nutty Jody: Jill McNutt
Sleepy Sam: Lawrence Burroughs
Paranoid Patty: Francesca Holland
Sock Puppet Girl: Hannah Leavenworth
Twirly Tammy: Celestina Kuncz
Granny Garfunkle: Jordan Scowcroft
Shy Guy: James Moore

Director: Bill Doyle
Choreographer: Erin Fetters
Musical Director: RC Haus
Technical Director: Mark Stevens
Set and Lighting Designer: K. Aaron Blokker
Set Design: Travis Long
Stage Managers: Gary Gamza and Carmen Elster


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