Last weekend, the Utica College Theatre Department and its talented students and staff brought “Urinetown: The Musical” to life as it debuted in Strebel Auditorium.
The musical tells the story of a community where its members have to pay to urinate because of finite resources and limited water in town.
It accomplished the two objectives of theatre: entertainment and education. One moment, a scene is addressing the fine attributes of large corporations and monopolies, and in the next there is an elaborate dance routine with the actors and actresses as bunnies.
The show touched on a lengthy list of serious issues such as finite resources, monopolization and corporations, just to name a few.
Corruption in society was also a significant issue the musical touched base on. Urine Good Company runs every toilet in town and its owner, Caldwell B. Caldwell, played by Jason Francey, assistant director of college engagement, acts as the antagonist throughout the production.
Before the show even started, the Theatre Department and its actors immerse the audience in Urinetown. Hannah DeStefano, playing Penelope Pennywise, patrols the bathrooms. She blows her whistle and shakes a can of coins from charging those who urinate. Along with her are two officers, Officer Lockstock and Officer Barrell, played by Kyle Van Wrinkler and Randall Chiera respectively, chasing Old Man Strong.
Caldwell uses a corrupt government official, Senator Fipp, played by Ahlanna Russell, to pass legislation to raise the prices for the toilets.
When Old Man Strong, played by Michael O’Brien, can pay to urinate, he is sent to Urinetown, a place shrouded in mystery. This is the spark for the revolution as his son, Bobby Strong, played by Justin Jones, meets Hope, played by Nicole Collette, and is told to “follow your heart.”
Strong takes control of the toilet of amenity nine and gives it back to the poor. But this is not the end of the story. He goes to meet Caldwell to discuss a resolution to the situation. Caldwell tries to bribe Strong, which Strong refuses. This leads Caldwell to send Bobby Strong to Urinetown, too. Strong is thrown from the roof of Urine Good Company and there Little Sally (Madelyn Frankovic) hears his final words, “tell her I love her.”
Hope leads the final revolution against her father and gives the toilets back to the people. However, this is not the end. The narrators give the tragic epilogue: The water supply meets its limitations and the people of the town also find themselves at Urinetown, or death.
Officer Lockstock, who serves as one of the narrators, at one point says: “This is not a happy musical.” This is true and needs to be emphasised. However, the musical used comedic relief to make a possibly dark, serious scenarios appear lighter.
Because of the serious nature of the production, without compelling the audience to laugh through the producation’s hilarity, as well as the astonishing scenes, this musical would not have been as delightful.
From the performers in their bold pre-show antics, to actors and actresses who lent their gifted voices to melodies and harmonies to create the enchanting songs for the musical, UC and the Theatre Department are very fortunate to have a great abundance of young talent that will hopefully bring more countless musicals and theatrical productions to the UC community.