Come ready to laugh and confront contemporary issues all at once when the Catawba College Theatre Arts Department presents "Urinetown: The Musical" in Hedrick Theatre on campus at 6:55 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 11 and 12, and at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 13-15.
Fans of programs like "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," "The Colbert Report," and the movies of Christopher Guest ("Best in Show" and "Waiting for Guffman") will revel in this brilliant satire, created by Mark Hollman and Greg Kotis. Imagine a world where it is literally a privilege to urinate, where there are no private restrooms and where everyone has to scrounge for enough money to use a public toilet. Such is the state of affairs in the fictional, highly-stylized world of "Urinetown: The Musical."
In the stage world of "Urinetown," a wealthy few monopolize the water consumption of the town under the iron fist of the seemingly sinister chief executive officer of Urine Good Company (UGC), Caldwell B. Cladwell. Most of the town’s residents struggle to scrape together money to pay for each trip to the toilet until a new fee hike is instituted by a corrupt political system. A janitor at one of the "amenities," Bobby Strong, leads the poor into rebellion against the UGC, determined to have everyone pee for free. When he learns that his new love, Hope, is the daughter of the evil Caldwell B. Cladwell, Bobby must decide between a budding romance and unregulated urination.
"Urinetown: The Musical" takes on a hefty load of material. It not only confronts weighty (and certainly currently relevant) issues like corporate corruption, environmental conservation and preservation, civil rights, and classicism, but it also bulldozes over the conventions of musical theatre. Inspired by the alienation and detachment prevalent in the works of Bertolt Brecht, the characters in this musical readily recognize the strange, musical world in which they reside.
Greeted with some exposition by the narrator, Officer Lockstock, the audience will soon realize this is not a musical from the books of Rodgers and Hammerstein. With its sardonic wit, sarcasm, and heavy irony, it may seem easy to dismiss this show, but there are messages and issues lying underneath the surface that the audience must confront. While parodying such great musicals as "West Side Story," "Les Miserables," and "Carousel," the show also reaches back to the essays of Robert Malthus and 18th century theories on populations and their subsistence.
The cast includes senior Paul Saylor of Isle of Palms, S.C. as Officer Lockstock; senior Sara Johnson of Matthews, N.C. as Penelope Pennywise; junior Caitlin Springs of Santa Clara, Calif. as Little Sally; senior Jordan Ellis of Shelby, N.C. as Bobby Strong; senior Nicole Bowles of Monroe, N.C. as Hope Cladwell, senior Justin Lewis of Knoxville, Tenn. as Caldwell B. Cladwell; junior Matt Patrick of Trinity, Fla. as Officer Barrel; senior Cecilia Runge of Milford, N.J. as Josephine Strong; sophomore Mike Innis of Charlotte, N.C. as Mr. McQueen; sophomore Mara Stewart of Hurricane, W.Va. as Little Becky Two-Shoes; junior Alex Copeland of Clinton, S.C. as Senator Fipp; sophomore Shanna Locklair of Lewes, Del. as Soupy Sue; senior Jared Kenish of Glassboro, N.J. as Old Man Strong and Hot Blades Harry; junior Vanessa Malanga of Rutherfordton, N.C. as Mrs. Millenium; senior Nicole Durant of Fairview, N.C. as Cladwell’s secretary; sophomore Amber McCleerey of Hendersonville, N.C. as Tiny Tom; senior Justin Duncan of Raeford, N.C. as Robby the Stockfish; sophomore Zack Lynch of Selbyville, Del. as Billy Boy Bill; junior Christopher Baglio of Hubert, N.C. as Dr. Billeaux; junior Jacqueline Allen of Winston-Salem, N.C. as an ensemble member; senior Claire Alston of Kernersville, N.C. as an ensemble member; and sophomore Zachary Roe of Connelly Springs, N.C. as an ensemble member.
The production team for "Urinetown: The Musical" includes Professor Missy Barnes as Director and Co-Choreographer; senior Betsy Foster of Baltimore, Md. as Assistant Director and Co-Choreographer; 2007 Catawba graduate Giuseppe Ritorto of Greensboro, N.C. as Music Director; Professor Scott MacLeod as Vocal Coach; sophomore Shannon P. Kennedy of Atlanta, Ga. as Stage Manager; junior Brittany Bland of Atlanta, Ga. as Assistant Stage Manager; and junior Eleanor Withrow of Bel Air, Md. as Assistant Stage Manager.
Tickets for "Urinetown" are $12 for adults and $10 for senior citizens and non-Catawba students and group rates are available. For more details, contact the Catawba College Theatre Box Office at (704) 637-4481.
PHOTOS: "Urinetown: The Musical"