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a Musical
by Mark Hollmann (book & lyrics) and Greg Kotis (music & lyrics)

COMPANY : Act 3 Productions [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Act 3 Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 5061

SHOWING : April 14, 2017 - April 30, 2017



In a Gotham-like city, a terrible water shortage, caused by a 20-year drought, has led to a government-enforced ban on private toilets. The citizens must use public amenities, regulated by a single malevolent company that profits by charging admission for one of humanity’s most basic needs. Amid the people, a hero decides he’s had enough, and plans a revolution to lead them all to freedom! Winner of three Tony Awards, three Outer Critic’s Circle Awards, two Lucille Lortel Awards, and two Obie Awards, "Urinetown" is a hilarious musical satire of the legal system, capitalism, social irresponsibility, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, municipal politics and musical theatre itself!

Director Liane Lemaster
Little Becky Two-Shoes Caty Bergmark
Senator Fipp Gwydion Calder
Officer Lockstock Barbara Cole Uterhardt
Officer Barrel Nathan Hesse
Caldwell B. Cladwell Russ D. Ivey
Dr. Billeaux/Tiny Tom John Jenkins
Robby the Stockfish Tyree Jones
Little Sally Summer McCusker
Mr. McQueen/Joseph "Old Man" Strong Charlie Miller
Hope Cladwell Leah Parris
Bobby Strong Zach Phelps
Penelope Pennywise Lilliangina Quinones
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Brechtian Buffoonery
by playgoer
Saturday, April 22, 2017
"Urinetown" is a self-aware musical, poking fun at the genre while telling a story of ecological devastation. In Act3’s production, the comedy is underlined by Liane LeMaster’s direction, full of head snaps to the audience and added comic bits. The entertainment quotient expands exponentially when you add in good voices throughout and amazingly delightful choreography. (Do I sense another MAT award in store for choreographer Misty Barber Tice?)

To accommodate the many locations in the script, Will Brooks’ scenic design makes use of two revolving platforms and scaffolding and a ladder on wheels, backed by a large yellow "Urinetown" banner on the back wall. Elements are rearranged to suggest different locations. Bradley Rudy’s lighting design helps set scene and mood, with a footlight effect somehow managing both to underline the grotesqueness of the less savory characters in town and to highlight the romantic moments of our hero and heroine. Movement from one scene to the next is seamless and never interrupts the flow of the show.

The small band (brass, sometimes-sour woodwind, and percussion in addition to piano) is pretty loud, so head mikes are used on the actors to help balance out the sound. In Ben Sterling’s sound design (as implemented by Ian Gibson’s operation), this makes everything audible. The only audibility issues arise when a song is slightly out of the range of an actor, which happens most often with Russ Ivey as Caldwell B. Cladwell. On the other hand, a voice as powerful as Lilliangina Quiñones’ as Penelope Pennywise can rock the rafters even without amplification.

Nancye Quarles Hilley’s costume design nicely delineates the social status of the characters, with a couple of lovely fitted frocks for the delightfully dewy-eyed and sweet-voiced Leah Parris as heroine Hope Cladwell. Zac Phelps, as our hero Bobby Strong, has a more nondescript look. The ensemble members switch from costume to costume (and often wig to wig) during the show. Costuming works against the double-casting of Charlie Miller, however, who wears the elegant pants of his Mr. McQueen under the shabby coat of his "Old Man" Strong, making the two characters less distinct than they could be.

Acting and physicality is strong throughout for the principals, and often for the ensemble (with Caty Bergmark and Molly Millard perhaps most notable there). Barbara Cole Uterhardt (as Officer Lockstock, a role previously essayed by her husband Googie) and Summer McCusker (as diminutive Little Sally) make the most of their interplay onstage. The only missteps seem to have been on the director’s part, giving Gwydion Calder (Senator Fipp) and Nathan Tyler Hesse (Officer Barrel) some physical bits that cause audience members to look at one another and question "huh?"

This is a strong production throughout, with all elements nicely interlaced. The synergy of direction and technical elements is obvious from the choreography that makes full use of the movable ladder and the lighting that enhances that choreography. When all pieces of a production fall neatly into place, it’s no accident. Director Liane LeMaster has empowered her cast, crew, and musical director (Laura Gamble) to work together to make Act3’s "Urinetown" just about as good a production of this Brechtian treat as could be wished. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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