by Corey Ralston
Imagine a frightening world where a severe drought made using the bathroom a privilege. Where you had to pay to pee and going in the street was punishable by jail time. This is the world of Urinetown.
The satirical comedy musical, with an unfortunate title, is written by Mark Hollman and Greg Kotis and turns everything you know about musicals upside down with a clever and original concept that pokes fun at beloved musicals and films like Fiddler On The Roof, Les Miserables, West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, and Titanic to name a few.
Running for four more performances at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, this hilarious show is a gem that should be seen. As usual Chris Mangles does what he does best by providing clean and swift staging and crafting a monster of a set.
The hero of the story is Bobby Strong (played by Daniel Rodriguez), a local janitor, who believes in a world where poor people don’t have to scrounge change to use the bathroom. After his father is imprisoned for peeing his pants he decides to start a revolution of the people to take back their peeing rights. Rodriguez was perfectly cast in this role. His clear, pleasing voice gave life and rhythm to such songs as “Run, Freedom Run” (my personal favorite) and “Look At The Sky.”
Playing opposite him is the heroine and damsel in distress Hope Cladwell (played by Taylor Ablels). Hope’s Father Caldwell b. Cladwell (Peter Allwine) runs the notorious Urine Good Company, which is sanctioned by the government to charge for each urination. Abels is divine as Hope. Her voice is always top notch and her professionalism is a gift to the Valley. Abels can be seen in one last show (Ordinary Days at Organic Theater Factory) before leaving a void in our local theater. She is off to follow her dreams in Ney York City and the Big Apple better watch out.
Notable performances also came from Danielle Jorn as Penelope Pennywise, the tough warden of the poorest bathroom in town. Watching Jorn is always a treat because she is quite possibly one of the best character actresses around. She delivered each line with fierceness and sang with capability.
Terry Lewis was rich with comic timing as Officer Lockstock and Haleigh Cook was a funny voice of reason as Little Sally. Matthew Freitas stole many scenes as Mr. McQueen, the flamboyant assistant to Cladwell, and was a joy to watch. And the ensemble, which played many various roles, each had very distinct and lovable characters.
It must be said that the choreography (executed triumphantly by Danielle Behrens) was brilliant, and possibly the best part of the show. And Kudos to James McDonnell for great costumes and wigs that really set the tone of the show.
Although I thought the show was strange and a little all over the place (which is script problems not production value) I did really enjoy myself. This show is becoming very popular in our area and COS did it justice and will be hard to top.
Remaining performances are Thursday November 15, Friday the 16 and Saturday the 17 at 7:30 p.m. and a Saturday Matinee at 2 p.m. COS is located at 915 S. Mooney Blvd in Visalia, CA. Tickets are $12 for regular admission and $10 for students and seniors.