The Eagle Theatre of Hammonton’s new production of URINETOWN THE MUSICAL is an absolute smash hit! The spunky satire hits a home run right out of the ball park and straight into URINETOWN. Originally produced on Broadway in 2001, URINETOWN had 965 performances and received ten Tony nominations and three wins. It is a hysterical show poking fun at the legal system, capitalism, social irresponsibility, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, municipal politics and musical theatre itself.
URINETOWN was written based on the premise of public toilets where you had to pay a fee for “the privilege to pee.” I am old enough to remember public restrooms where you had to pay a dime to unlock the door so this concept is not only funny to me, but also quite realistic. The authors thought it would be interesting to write a musical about having to pay for the most private of actions. A twenty-year drought has caused a terrible water shortage, making private toilets unthinkable. All restroom activities are done in public toilets controlled by a mega corporation called “Urine Good Company” (or UGC). To control water consumption, people have to pay to use the amenities. There are harsh laws ensuring that people pay to pee, and if they are broken, the offender is sent to a penal colony called “Urinetown”, never to return. While potentially having two things that Little Sally says can kill a show, “bad subject matter” or “a bad title,” URINETOWN instead is a hysterical parody poking fun at everything possible. The music is upbeat, catchy and challenging with layered melodies creating a sophisticated score which actually won the Tony for Best Musical Score. The book is hilarious pushing the envelope for silly and campy walking a fine line but coming out brilliant.
I was lucky enough to see the original cast perform on Broadway in 2001 and went to The Eagle Theatre with pretty high expectations. I am pleased to say that I was not at all disappointed. The Eagle Theatre produced a fabulous production with powerful voices, fabulous acting and strong direction and choreography comparable to the original Broadway production. The musical direction was superb with every note on key. The intricate and complex score is extremely challenging, but was handled with ease by this fine cast. The musical direction of Tom Abruzzo was stupendous. I have been humming the songs since I left the theatre.
The story is told by the narrator Officer Lockstock portrayed by John Jackowski who commanded the stage with his deep voice and comic timing and Little Sally (Samantha Morrone)the young street urchin with more sense than the rest of the characters combined. Tim Rhinehart did a beautiful job as Bobby Strong, the hero of the story who makes a statement by allowing everyone to “pee for free” and battles the corrupt Caldwell B. Cladwell and the UGC Urine Good Company. The deluded power hungry and greedy Cladwell has always been one of my favorite characters originated by the great John Collum who won the Best Actor Tony for his performance. Paul Weagraff did a tremendous job with the role and was truly hilarious owning every moment on stage. Megan Pisors played the conflicted Hope Cladwell with a gorgeous voice and sense of comic timing. It takes a special actor to spend half the second act gagged and bound and still keep the audience engaged. I have had the privilege to watch Pisors grow as a performer over the last 15 years and it has been a gift to see her blossom into the gifted young performer she has become. Well done!
The Eagle Theatre has consistently been producing high quality theatre in the small little town of Hammonton, New Jersey and this production of URINETOWN THE MUSICAL is another great example of their work. URINETOWN is a hilarious night out. Run, don’t walk to see this show.
URINETOWN THE MUSICAL
Music by Mark Hollmann
Lyrics by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis
Book by Greg Kotis
Directed by Ed Corsi
Musical Direction by Tom Abruzzo
June 7 – 23, 2013
The Eagle Theatre
208 Vine Street
Hammonton, NJ 08037
John Cullum (not Collum) was nominated for a 2002 Tony for his performance in Urinetown, but did not win. John Lithgow won that year for “Sweet Smell of Success”.