Monday, June 21, 2010

Urine the Theatre

At times, it was easy to forget Urinetown was cast only with student actors. The singing, acting and dancing was so spot-on, and so professional in most cases. The only indication of the cast’s youth was the occasional actor looking startling with white hair, or those who hadn’t quite grown into their adult voices and bodies. The audience and the actors seemed to love this production by the Delaware All-State Theatre at the DuPont Theatre.

Producer/Director Jeffrey Santoro choreographed many snappy numbers, making excellent use of the space on the simple set. “Mr. Cladwell” is a song reminiscent of “I think I’m gonna like it here” from Annie. Hope Cladwell (sung beautifully by Natasha Michael), Cladwell B. Cladwell’s daughter, meets her new co-workers-her father’s lackeys-and they give her the seal of approval in a rousing, fun chorus. Later in the musical, Annie is fair game again, when several characters remind us “The sun will come out tomorrow”. The musical’s creators, Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis, are shameless musical quote from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita.

Not only do we get an “in-your-face” sometimes groan-worthy mocking and quoting of Broadway musicals, we get a constant breakdown of the fourth wall. Lockstock, who was expertly played by Jordan Weagraff, is the most successful at handling these sarcastic, knowing quips about the show and its merits that he tosses out to the audience. After a while, the show’s self-commentary becomes tiresome and glib.

Jake Glassman was charming and sincere as Bobby Strong. He manages to step out of the stock character cartoony role, and make the flash back scene, “Tell Her I Love Her” extremely funny as he appears a ghost in the mist. Another stand out was the pregnant Little Becky Two-Shoes, played by Lydia Stinson. One of the strongest actors in the show, she was lively, animated and always involved in the action on stage. Mike Hinkle was energetic and convincing as the slimy Cladwell. As Penelope Pennywise, Maren Lavelle had good command of the stage and a natural sense of comic timing.

Though Urinetown was intended to be an edgy, political satire, I found myself wondering exactly what the commentary was. I understood that big business and corruption are bad, and make people do bad things. The show’s theme simplified: everyone should have access to a toilet when nature calls. Maybe I am old-fashioned, but I also found myself thinking there are other musicals that carry a stronger message and are more deserving of the spotlight.


  1. Always a pleasure. Good to hear the production was enjoyable

  2. I saw this production on opening night, and loved it so much that I went back the next night. I laughed out loud numerous times and found that there were many things that I didn't even catch during the first viewing. This cast is superb. It's hard to believe they are just teenagers. Some of them could easily be professional. And while the show title had me curious, I found the production to have real heart. There were many positive messages woven throughout. I challenge anyone to go to this musical and NOT like it.

  3. I'm glad to see student actors getting the credit they deserve. Thanks for a great article.

  4. I saw this show the second night and could not believe how good it was. Though I wasn't really sure what the message truly was, I enjoyed every minute of the show. The actors where stellar, I thought they were professional. I wouldn't hesitate to see this show.