URINETOWN: A Great First Step to “Make it Grand Again”

by Ed Corsi

Dave McConney as Bobby Strong with other cast members from The Road Company's URINETOWN - this weekend only in Williamstown NJ.

URINETOWN is one of the more wacky musical satires out there. If you love musical theater and have an off-beat sense of humor, this show will make you laugh until you . . . er, laugh your head off. The premise is as original as it is unpleasant – in a city suffering from unending drought, private bathrooms are outlawed. Everyone must pay over-the-top fees to use public facilities run by a mega-corporation. Those who cannot pay get dragged off to URINETOWN, a mysterious place from which they never return. Finally, one Facility assistant leads the people in rebellion. The catch is that the woman he falls in love with is the daughter of the corporation’s greedy president. 

The spoofing is incredibly relentless in this show. URINETOWN actually spoofs the Broadway musical itself as a form. I found myself enjoying the story, the music, the writing and The Road Company’s version from the first moment. And then towards the end of Act 1, the character Caldwell B. Cladwell (the CEO of Urine Good Company) launched into the song “Don’t be the Bunny”. At this point, the entire audience (including myself) lost it. This was one of the funnier parts of the night for me. Michael Sacks (as Cladwell) and the entire ensemble in this number were hilarious.In fact, the material gets tremendous help from every member of the cast, one of the finest comic ensembles The Road Company has put on stage. David McConney and Lani Campagno are wonderful as the young lovers torn apart by political upheaval, and the raucous Lauri Hudson (who is also President of The Road Company) steals many a scene as a heartless facility manager with a secret (Penelope Pennywise).

The rest of this ensemble cast was excellent as well….not a weak performer among them. The energy, presence and overall flow were spectacular. Special praise must go to Amy Sprouse as chatty Little Sally, who was absolutely flawless and adorable in this role….the always brilliant Jennie Knackstedt as Little Becky Two Shoes. Even in the first Act when Becky doesn’t have a whole lot of solo work, Jennie is someone you can’t help but watch anytime she’s on the stage….As the crooked cop narrating the proceedings (Officer Lockstock), John Baccaro was superb. He gave a deft comic performance that carries this show from beginning to end and he is a complete natural on stage. 

The Road Company has a great technical crew and they did a wonderful job transferring everything to the middle school. The set, sound and lights were all perfect. And the 4 piece band was spot on. The choreography by Jodi Raditz fit like a glove with the music and feel of this show. Musical Director Ruslan Odintsov had the luxury of having some great vocalists in the cast but nonetheless, he did a terrific job making sure they blended nicely. The vocals were always strong and the harmonies were just right.It was very obvious that Director Suzanne Baldino Jones contributed to the “heart” of this production. I’ll make no bones about it…Suzanne has always been one of my favorite directors in this area. She has amazing creative vision, just the right amount of energy, an understanding of her actor’s feelings and a well executed and thought out game plan. The staging and characterizations were worked on to perfection. This was not at all a surprise to me, but definitely worth mentioning. 

I can sit here and nitpick and try to find minor things about this production that may have made for small improvements….but why? There is a time and place for everything and this is the time to celebrate The Road Company. The bottom line is that this is a wonderfully entertaining show put on by a hard-working, caring group of people. You have two more chances to spend a couple of hours being thoroughly entertained while contributing to a fund that will ultimately help to bring this “grand” group back into their new theatre on the same space on Main Street….Right where they belong.URINETOWN
by Mark Hollman and Greg Kotis
Directed by Suzanne Baldino Jones
November 18 – 20, 2010
The Road Company
Williamstown Middle School Theater
561 Clayton Avenue
Williamstown, NJ 08094

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