Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Urinetown"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2006 by Tony Annicone

"Urinetown"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

URI's third show of their season is the Rhode Island area premiere of the Broadway show, "Urinetown" which won three Tony Awards in 2002. "Urinetown" is set in the future where a drought of epic proportions has forced corrupt city officials to come up with a unique way to conserve water: people may only use public restrooms and they must pay for the privilege. Fed-up citizens take to the streets, but those caught breaking the law are carted off to the mysterious "Urinetown" never to be seen or heard from again. This satirical musical pokes fun at and sends up "The Threepenny Opera", "Annie", "Fiddler on the Roof", "West Side Story"and Gershwin romances simultaneously. Director Paula McGlasson infuses this show with energy and casts all the roles perfectly. She, Donna Gamache-Griffiths and Erin Condry create all the dance steps which spoof these other shows beautifully while music director Lila Kane supplies the expert musical direction to pull off this unique and funny show. This multitalented cast blows the roof off the theatre with their powerful performance, earning them a very well deserved standing ovation at curtain call.

The show's narrator, police officer, Lockstock, greets us and informs us through the lyrics of his first song, "Better hope your pennies add up to the fee, we can't have you peeing for free". He informs everyone that Urinetown is a mythical place filled with symbolism and stuff like that but it won't be seen until the second act. Lockstock's lines are clever, witty and humorous and are delivered perfectly by one of the biggest scene stealers, Kyle Maddock. He has proven his acting capabilities in past URI shows, "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" and "Diary of Anne Frank" but he gets to show off his strong singing and dancing talents as this character. Kyle leads off with the opening title song and lead his fellow cops in a song and dance number called "Cop Song" which reminds you of "Trouble" from "Music Man". His fellow officer, Barrel is humorously portrayed by Patrick Bosworth as a bumbling aide to the chief cop. Another scene stealer is Amanda Ruggiero as Little Sally who is the voice of reason in this madcap show. She asks all these hard hitting questions of Lockstock who is unable to answer them including metaphysical and hydraulics questions . She gets to show off her voice in group songs and in "Tell Her I Love Her" about Bobby and Hope. The young lovers in the show are Bobby Strong, a poor boy, and Hope Cladwell, a rich girl, played by Donald Daillaire and Stephanie Sherman. They meet and fall in love after his father is brought to Urinetown for peeing without payment and Bobby decides to stage an uprising not realizing Hope's father is the culprit. They get to show off their powerful tenor and soprano voices in "Follow Your Heart" where they listen to each others hearts, he also sings "Look At the Sky" which is like "Les Miz" and the revival song, "Run Freedom Run while she sings the powerful ballad "I See a River". They play their parts wonderfully.

The villain of the show is Caldwell B. Cladwell who controls the public amenities corporation, treating his lowly cohorts like dirt. Joseph Kidawski is a hoot as this Snidley Whiplash type cad who gets to sing and strut his stuff in the "Mr. Cladwell" number with his minions as well as in "Don't Be a Bunny" which is like "Little Girls" from "Annie" with him singing to a stuffed rabbit. Seth Finkle does a good job as Mr. McQueen, Cladwell's right hand man who gets to do his dirty work while the multitalented Joe Short plays Senator Fipp, a shifty public offical and he gets to show off his singing voice in the quintet number, "Why Did I Listen to that Man" with Kyle, Patrick, Stephanie and Haley Hansen who plays the Brechtian like character, Penelope Pennywise. She runs the public toilet # 9 with an iron fist. Pretty blonde, Haley plays this bitchy broad with the right amount of sex appeal and gets to sing "It's a Privilege to Pee" with her poor customers while threatening them with calling the cops and in "I'm Sorry" with Cladwell after she spills a secret from their past. Other scene stealers include Alejandro Alvarez as Hot Blades Harry and Dana Merson as Little Becky Two-Shoes (she wears a padded stomach to appear pregnant and a leg cast) who lead the topnotch chorus in "Snuff That Girl" which is like "Cool" from West Side Story and in "We're Not Sorry" which is an energetic Charleston. Lauren Ustaszewski shines as Bobby's mother. The wonderful costumes are by David Howard while the scenic design is by Cheryl De Wardener, lighting by Christian Wittwe and sound by Peter Nabut. So for a splendid rendition of a contemporary musical be sure to catch the RI premiere of "Urinetown" at URI before time runs.

"Urinetown" (16 February - 4 March)
URI THEATER
J Studio, Fine Arts Studio, Upper College Road, KINGSTON RI
1 (401) 874-5843

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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