Welcome to 'Urinetown': Though melancholy, Studio 1's latest production is a delight to watch
By Charity Apple / Times-News
Despite the peppy music and show-stopping choreography, “Urinetown, The Musical” isn’t a happy musical. Narrators Officer Lockstock (Tim Brown) and Little Sally (Annabel Brunk) even say so in the opening monologue and throughout Studio 1’s latest production, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see it.
Through the effective use of lighting and sound effects (the constant dripping sound is intentional), Studio 1 has produced a show that will be remembered for its great music and dance numbers as well as incredible talent on stage.
Mark Holloman and Greg Kotis’ Tony award-winning show is about “the privilege to pee.” That’s right. The show gets its name because both figuratively and literally, there’s a law against public urination in this mythical town. Kotis created the concept for the show as a college student traveling across Europe. He discovered during that time, as it is in some European countries still today, that you have to pay to use public restrooms.
A satirical look at government control, “Urinetown” is at times, dark and foreboding. A 20-year drought has caused a terrible water shortage, prompting the government to seek pay for the use of public restrooms. The seedy underbelly of a city is portrayed and its residents are, well, looking for a way to relieve themselves the only way they know how. And if they do so, without paying a fee, they will be sent to Urinetown — never to return.
Director Tami Kress laughingly refers to the number of comments she’s received on the show’s name, but as in other Studio 1 productions, this is a professional, polished product. The 28-member cast includes a four-legged performer in Claire King’s Evil Betty, who plays Moola.
Allen Wiley, as the hero Bobby Strong, and Katie Muhlenkamp, as Hope Cladwell, have such a natural chemistry on stage that it’s difficult to take your eyes off them. Brown, as the sinister Officer Lockstock, and Annabel Brunk, as Little Sally, deliver over-the-top, memorable performances as does John Collier as the Urine Good Company (UGC) tycoon Caldwell B. Cladwell. S. Elizabeth Carroll, whose incredible vocal ability has graced shows both at the Paramount Theater and Studio 1, is the feisty Penelope Pennywise, Cladwell’s star employee.
Yes, you will be tapping your toes to the beat of the music, which ranges from contemporary hip-hop style to Broadway-style ballads. Little Sally and Officer Lockstock may be right — this isn’t a happy musical, but it’s delightful to watch.
Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23-24 and 2 p.m. Oct. 25 in the Sara McMillan Brown Theatre, Studio 1, 1332 Plaza Drive, Burlington. Tickets are $13 for seniors and students and $16 for adults. Tickets can be purchased atbrownpapertickets.com. For more details, call (336) 534-0321.