by Lorie Lewis Ham
In my review of Bring It On this week, I talked about the wide variety of shows on stage in the Valley right now, which includes the irreverent and hilarious Urinetown presented by StageWorks Fresno.
Urinetown: The Musical is a satirical comedy musical which satirizes the legal system, capitalism, social irresponsibility, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, and municipal politics. It also parodies the Broadway music as a form. It premiered in 2001, with music by Mark Hollmann, lyrics by Hollmann and Greg Kotis, and book by Kotis. The story is set in a town where the water shortage has become so bad that people have to pay to pee.
The show begins with Officer Lockstock (Jeff Lusk), who is the narrator of the show. Many of his conversations are with a street urchin named Little Sally (Alyssa Benitez) who is trying to collect pennies so she can go the bathroom. We are then taken to one of the many public toilets, Public Amenity #9, where people are waiting in line. This one is run by Penelope Pennywise (Amalie Larson), with the assistance of Bobby Strong (James Schott). The laws for urinating elsewhere are extremely harsh–they send the person to a penal colony called “Urinetown,” from which they never return. The person running this operation, and paying off the cops to make sure it is enforced, is Caldwell B. Caldwell (Chris Carsten) who is the head of a huge corporation. Caldwell is about as greedy and evil as you can get. His daughter Hope Caldwell (Meg Clark) comes to town and meets Bobby, whose father has just been sent to Urinetown, and they fall in love. She unintentionally inspires him to start a revolution.
This show is over the top hilarious, filled with old style melodrama and crazy fun songs. Chris Carsten is the epitome of the melodrama villain and plays the character with perfection. Meg Clark as the young and innocent Hope, and James as Bobby, both do an excellent job and sing beautifully. Amalie is also wonderfully funny as Pennywise. The entire cast does a great job of making this show the fun, crazy, and side splitting adventure that it is, but as Lockstock warns at the beginning of the show it does not have a happy ending. But that’s okay, because boy is it a fun ride all the way through. While everyone did a great job, my absolute favorite was Jeff as Lockstock-not only was his character hilariously funny and over the top-but he had some astounding vocal moments as well. I would remiss if I didn’t also offer kudos to director Joel Abels for putting together all the pieces of this fun show!
If you are looking for a reason to laugh, and some sidesplitting fun, don’t miss Urinetown on stage at the Dan Pessano Theater, 770 E. International Ave. in Fresno, through August 5. Tickets can be purchased online, and you are encouraged to do so as they are going quickly.
You can find more theatre articles, and other entertainment articles, in our Arts & Entertainment section. Also, check out our new mystery podcast which features the voices of local actors.