By Caroline Quattro
On Friday Oct. 7, the cast and crew of “Urinetown” opened their curtains to the public for their weekend long run. Multiple performances were sold out, filled with roaring laughter and concluded with roaring applause and a standing ovation from the crowd.
The musical is set in an unnamed city that has been overcome with a severe drought that has imposed poverty on society for decades, therefore forcing citizens to pay to use the restroom. Order is maintained by a violent police force that confines lawbreakers to Urinetown. This led the impoverished citizens to begin a revolution to overthrow the toilet tycoon who has monopolized on them. Over the course of the show, the audience begins to realize that Urinetown doesn’t actually exist and is just the inevitable: death.
Contrary from the description above, the show is a comedy. The musical is ultimately a parody on musical theater as an art form and satire reflecting American social and political issues. There is a balance of both art and satire presented in the show. As expected by the title, it is also stuffed to the brim with potty-themed references.
The costume design was done by costume shop supervisor Jim Parks and his assistant, sophomore acting major Emily Porter Siegel. On stage they were able to show the clear divide of the elitists and the less fortunate through variations of colors and textures.
“Before I start any design, I like to do a thorough reading of the script, but I try not to watch any other productions of the show so that I don’t find myself subconsciously replicating another designer’s work,” said Porter Siegel. “Then I’ll make a sort of moodboard collage, including not only ideas for costume pieces, but any images that remind me of a character. Only after the vibes have been thoroughly gauged do I start making a list of components and pulling potential outfits.”
The show was packed with various dance numbers performed by the entire company.
“My favorite piece in “Urinetown” to work on was ‘What is Urinetown’ because this number incorporated several styles of dance that highlighted the cast’s many abilities,” said sophomore BFA musical theater major Maddy Winker, who served as the assistant choreographer for the show. “We began with the traditional hora, followed by the hand jive from Grease, and concluded with my own choreography in a balletic style. This number was fun and also got to highlight each cast member’s tricks in the semicircle moment at the end.”
As a junior theater design and technology and arts and entertainment industries management double major, Rylee Berger was able to take on double duties by carrying the titles of both Production Stage Manager and Assistant Technical Director for “Urinetown.”
“I love getting to see the show develop from a group of people sitting around a table talking about it to a full-fledged production with a cast, lights, sets, props, sound, costumes and more,” said Berger. “As PSM, I started working on this show in June, having initial meetings with the director and the production team, working on a calendar, and performing a production analysis. As we moved into rehearsals, I got to see the cast put the show on its feet and, while working in the shop and performing my ATD duties, got to see the show built from the production side. During tech, it is always so cool to see those two worlds converge, and having a foot in both of them on this production made tech week all the more inspiring.”
Under Berger’s direction, Juliette Manners, a sophomore musical theater major was able to execute her job efficiently without any interferences making the show run to the best of its ability.
“All of my crew members learned their responsibilities very quickly and they execute them daily without me having to remind them; I check to make sure all tasks are completed, but I am happy to find I rarely have to correct mistakes. This gives me the ability to oversee the entire backstage process and to dedicate my time to solving new challenges when they present themselves,” said Manners.
After four sold out performances the cast closed its doors on Sunday Oct. 9, but it’s safe to say that this pee-ridden performance will not be forgotten.