THEATER REVIEW: URINETOWN

By Anthony Chase

Urinetown! is a truly terrific show, pointed in its dark comedy and clever in every detail. Taking such Kurt Weill / Bertolt Brecht musicals as Threepenny Opera and the Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny as its inspiration, Urinetown! follows the trials of the population of an oppressed town where corrupt corporate and government interests have used a drought to seize control of the water.  Now, you must pay a private corporation to pee, and if you don’t, you are banished to Urinetown.

Little Sally and Officer Lockstock narrate this dark and hilarious tale.  At Subversive Theatre, Jeffrey Coyle both plays Officer Lockstock and has directed.  This is a witty and smoothly paced production. A wonderfully talented cast mines the material for every joke and show business reference. Bethany Burrows Gruendike gets great mileage out of the dry humor of Little Sally, a street urchin, wise beyond her indeterminate years.

Ryan Kaminski gives a strong performance as our hero, Bobby Strong, the man who rallies the populace to fend off the shackles of oppression. Jenn Stafford is delightfully deranged as Penelope Pennywise, the officious officiant at a public urinal, whose secret past connects all of the characters.

Everyone in the company is excellent.  Each as a modern age capitalist stereotype: Michael Starzynski as evil corporate boss, Caldwell B. Cladwell; Erin Coyle as his innocent and idealistic daughter; Susana Breese as Bobby’s proletariat mother; Tyler Brown as shallow and unethical, but consummately pliable Officer Barrel.  Michael Wachowiak, Chris Andreana, Matt Mooney, Jennel Pruneda, Jake Hayes, Dave Spychalski, and Sara Jo Kukulka in a variety of colorful cartoon roles.

The score truly sounds terrific, all Berlin-y and Kurt Weill-y under the musical direction of Allan Paglia.  Doug Weyand’s choreography, which deploys every cliché in the Broadway vocabulary, is inspired. Every moment of Urinetown! is musical theater bliss.