Nancy Sasso Janis
It was definitely a long and hard road to 'Urinetown' (the Musical, that is) for the Post University Theatrical Players. The never-ending winter caused them to miss a whopping ten rehearsals. Twelve students, staff members and invited actors covered the seventeen roles in the show, so five of them had to play two parts and pull off the necessary costume changes. Did I mention that many of the cast have very little theatre experience?
While another director might have cancelled the production, the indomitable Bob Tansley forged ahead. "Post University does not stress only the quality of the show, but also the experience," writes the director in his program welcome. "That is the reason why Post funds the show without looking to charge a ticket price. The experience it gives our students for job interviews, public speaking and personal confidence is payment enough."
This all may sound like an apology for a weak show, or at least one not up to the standards of the productions that the university has presented as a community service in the past. I was honored to be the only audience member for the first of two (insert long story here) final dress rehearsals on Wednesday and I can assure you that no excuses need to be made for this terrific production of 'Urinetown.'
The unfortunately-named musical (and the title itself is spoofed in the dialogue) is a musical satire of a host of social issues and musical theatre as well. A water shortage has led to a government ban on private toilets and an evil company regulates the public amenities. Officer Lockstock (played with tongue in cheek authority by Post junior Keegan Burgdoff) only manages to stay alive because he is the narrator, while his partner Barrel (played by senior Jesse Perez) is not so lucky. It is all very irreverent and broad and the cast members enjoyed every minute of it. I had just as much fun at this first rehearsal with the orchestra, although I often felt the imaginary urge to head to the restroom as I laughed at the proceedings.
Both officers came up with their routine for "Cop Song" and I loved it. "Act One Finale," as it is aptly named, was made better with strobe lighting. Choreography throughout was pretty impressive.
This cast must have been studying their lines during the snow days because this rehearsal was smoother than most I have seen. Colleen Rush, a junior at Post, played the adorably sincere Little Sally with the perfect facial expressions to match. Director of Main Campus Advising Caity Masiewicz switched between Josephine "Ma" Strong and Bobbie the Stockfish seamlessly. Online student Hannah Staple headed to campus to flip between the roles of Little Becky Two Shoes and Mrs. Millennium and she pulled it off. Doug McCarthy of Torrington was a natural as Joseph "Old Man" Strong and Hot Blades Harry.
Community theatre veteran Pat Hearn returned to Post as an invited guest performer to play Mr. McQueen and he was as good as always. Mr. Hearn serves as Mr. Tansley's co-director for the Blessed Sacrament Children's Theatre and their upcoming production of 'Seussical.' Staff member Kelly Marchand marks his ninth production at Post in the role of the villain Caldwell B. Cladwell and the director of the Equine Program Abby Nemec returned to the Post stage to play Senator Fipp and Soupy Sue. Mr. Perez also played the menacing Tiny Tom in a trench coat.
Freshman Aria Jones was the lovely Hope Cladwell. Ms. Jones was a strong actress and I look forward to seeing her in future productions at Post. The very talented Sara Hart brought her strong singing voice to the role of Penelope Pennywise; this young lady is one to watch. Ben Orlando gave a non-stop performance as our hero Bobby Strong. This young man appeared off Broadway in Chip Deffaa's 'Theater Boys' and is a joy to watch. He also served as choreographer and one of the set designers for 'Urinetown.'
Senior Lauren Gelati was the very busy production stage manager in her final production at Post. Keith Wilson and Thankful MeoBurt served as musical directors and the orchestra included them on sax and keyboard/pit vocals respectively, Caroline Fisher on keyboard/pit vocals, Scott Spallone on bass, Scott Kellogg on percussion, Chris Schrock on trombone, and R. "Shep" Adams-Sheperd on pit vocals. The set was designed by Mr. Orlando, Ms. Hart and the director and the muted toned costumes were designed by Jennifer Tansley. The cast members came up with the props; one protest sign read "Do You Hear the People Pee."
'Urinetown the Musical' runs at the Eagle's Nest Theatre on the Post campus April 17, 18 at 8:00pm and April 19 at 2:00pm. Admission is FREE but reservations are required. For reservations, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203 596-1930. Include name, date of the performance and number of attendees. E-mail reservations preferred.