Review: 'Urinetown The Musical' by Get Up Stage Company

Nancy Sasso Janis

GetUp Stage Company presents the Tony Award-winning post-modern satire unfortunately-named ‘Urinetown The Musical’ this weekend at Trinity-on-Main in New Britain. They cleverly billed it as featuring “star-crossed lovers like ‘West Side Story,’ dancing poor people like ‘Les Mis,’ and nothing at all resembling ‘Cats.’ It seemed especially fitting that the venue, a beautiful old church, is located across the street from the New Britain police station when Officer Lockstock (played by Michael Gibbons with excellent timing) entered the stage in uniform to narrate the story.

 Founded in 2010,   this Bristol-based theater company is geared toward young actors and is open to all young adults in CT by audition. For this production, director Lindsey DiPietro has assembled a multi-talented group that gave it their all throughout the two acts, and boy can ‘the Poor’ ensemble dance! From the opening “Urinetown” the musical number to “I See a River,” they expertly handle the rich choreography of Libby Blauvelt.

 Katerina Belales was pretty adorable as the precocious Little Sally and Devin Orde played the commanding Penelope Pennywise with a wonderful singing voice. Jack Richards took on the role of businessman Cladwell and commanded the clarinet in the pit as well as his minions in “Don’t Be the Bunny.” Stephanie Evans was his assistant Miss McQueen. Michael Lauretti Jr. was a senator on the take and Andrew Ewart played the doomed Old Man Strong.
Benjamin Marcil did a great job with the role of Hot Blades Harry and Kevin Michaud was Tiny Tom. Cody Mitchell played Dr. Billeaux and Thalia Palacios was Soupy Sue. Katherine Clarke Britt was a fine pregnant Little Becky Two Shoes and Danielle Cudney played Mrs. Millenium. Katerina Levasseur was Robbie the Stockfish and Destiny Whitten played Billie Bill. Officer Barrell was played by Tessa Coleman. 

 In such a strong cast, Michael Ricciardone was a fantastic Bobby Strong. This young man from Southington has what I call a Broadway voice and he relished in the role of our hero. One of my favorite parts of his performance was when he directed the tight harmony of the choir of the poor during “Run Freedom Run.”Equally as impressive was the always great Danielle Fusco from Watertown. She toned down her powerhouse voice to play the starry-eyed Hope Cladwell most effectively and then brought it on in full force for one wonderful solo. 
Lea McCabe designed the set pieces that were large rectangular prism rotated as needed and they worked really well. Melanie Michaud, Molly Watstein and the cast were the scenic artists and painters. The cops used their flashlights well in “The Cop Song” and a large heart was well-placed for “Follow Your Heart.”

 Kudos to Ms. DePietro on some clever comic touches and to music director Nick Stanford on a fine five-piece band. There were a few sound minor sound issues that didn’t really matter in this space.
 This excellent production, one of the best ‘Urinetown The Musical’ I have ever seen, closes on Saturday evening at 8:00pm at Trinity-on-Main. 

 Photos of the cast by their families

'Urinetown' at Post University Players

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?

Members of the cast of 'Urinetown' at Post University All photos by Nancy Sasso Janis 

Members of the cast of 'Urinetown' at Post University All photos by Nancy Sasso Janis 

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 or call 203 596-1930. Include name, date of the performance and number of attendees. E-mail reservations preferred.