Conard High School Musical Productions will present ‘Urinetown the Musical’ in West Hartford for two weekends beginning March 9.
By Ronni Newton
Conard High School Musical Productions has strayed from its standard repertoire of classic, family-friendly shows with this year’s satirical musical, Urinetown, but the Tony award-winning show, which premiered on Broadway in 2001, will delight audiences of all ages.
Urinetown is a spoof of musical theater, and well-versed audience members may recognize nods to Les Miserables, Threepenny Opera, and The Cradle Will Rock. It’s described as “wickedly funny,” with some “toilet humor” that one might expect based on the name, yet at the same time it’s touchingly-honest in its satirical commentary on capitalism and society.
“When we chose Urinetown we knew that, despite the fact it ran for three years on Broadway and won Tony awards for Best Book and Best Score, it would not have the name recognition of our past shows,” said Director Corinne Kravetz. “As educators and artists, Scott Porter [co-producer and pit orchestra director], Sam Eurich [vocal director], and I aim to offer our students a variety of experiences, from classic shows such as Hello Dolly, to family entertainment like Cinderella, and also, to shows that might challenge our audiences a bit, such as Urinetown.”
Kravetz said the show is entertaining, with amazing music, and never lets you forget you are watching a piece of theatre.
Kravetz also said she hopes people don’t get too hung up on the title.
“The show itself is very self aware, and some of the first lines recognize this when one of the characters makes a comment about how ‘a bad title can kill a show pretty good!’ Lots of the humor will go over the heads of younger kids,” Kravetz said.
“Through broad and humorous characterization, the show touches upon environmental and class issues. It will definitely give you something to talk about as you leave the theatre. It does contain lots of references to paying to pee, as that is the central conceit of the show. The show has no profanity, and any innuendos are very much understated,” Kravetz added.
The show opens with Officer Lockstock (Miles Brown) and Little Sally (Maddie Gallinoto), who set the scene for the audience with the backstory: A 20-year drought has created a crippling water shortage, and private toilets have become unthinkable. The mega-corporation Urine Good Company (UGC) has risen to power and controls all “private business,” i.e., restroom activities, through what has become a pay-to-pee system.
Junior Matthew Vitelli plays the role of Bobby Strong, who takes on the system after his father, who can’t afford to pay his “urinal admission,” is arrested for peeing on the street.
Bobby gathers an unlikely group of rebels to take on UGC’s CEO Caldwell B. Cladwell, played by Charlie Uthgenanannt, in a challenge to the system that controls the water supply.
“The characters in this show are meant to be devices to get the theme across, they’re really caricatures,” Vitelli said. Bobby represents the revolutionary, the typical hero. “He transforms and becomes the hero of the oppressed masses,” said Vitelli.
Gabby Urso, who plays Hope, Cladwell’s daughter and a new employee of UGC, said that the cast talked about what each of the characters represented even before beginning rehearsals. “The point of the show is the distinct message it wants to send,” she said, and the characters are all stereotypes.
“Hope is kind of a naive, innocent girl who doesn’t know the evilness the world is made of,” Urso said. “She kind of represents ‘hope’ for a newer, better future.”
“It’s really not a story in the sense of many other musicals where you fall in love with the leading man or leading lady,” Uthgenanannt said. Actors are trained to go deep into their characters, and in this show that’s not possible because the characters aren’t deep.
“Caldwell Cladwell is your big business archetype,” said Uthgenanannt. “He’s out for himself and only himself. It’s a very fun role to play due to the time in which we live,” he added.
“Yes, it’s comedic, but it’s like holding a mirror to society. It makes you think about your ways,” Urso said. “I think the message is pretty clear.”
There are multiple full-cast musical numbers, and a “small, but rocking” pit orchestra. “The music is great,” said Urso.
“The lines are fun to say and the songs are fun to sing,” Vitelli said. And while the show’s premise is “pay-to-pee,” the show goes much deeper than the name Urinetown might indicate.
Performance dates and times are:
- Friday, March 9 at 7 p.m.
- Saturday, March 10 at 7 p.m.
- Sunday, March 11 at 2 p.m.
- Friday, March 16 at 7 p.m.
- Saturday, March 17 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $18 for adults and $15 for students and children. Advance purchase online at www.conardhighschoolmusical.com is recommended to ensure availability. If any tickets remain they will be sold at the door. There are a limited number of wheelchair accessible seats.
All performances will be held in the Conard High School auditorium, 110 Beechwood Rd., West Hartford, CT.
Any questions can be directed to Liz Grabber at [email protected].
- Officer Lockstock – Miles Brown
- Caldwell B. Cladwell – Charlie Uthgenannt
- Bobby – Matthew Vitelli
- Officer Barrel – Nathan Souza
- Little Sally – Maddie Gallinoto
- Hope – Gabby Urso
- Penelope Pennywise – Delina Bartolomei
- Senator Fipp – Ray Plocharczyk
- Mr. McQueen – Wil Barry
- Dr. Billeaux – Sara Radonis
- Mrs. Millenium – Sam Bowin
- Hot Blades Harry – Nick Roberts
- Joseph “Old Man” Strong – Daniel Santana-Gonzalez
- Tiny Tom – Luke Yanosy
- Little Becky Two Shoes – Zoe Healey
- Josephine “Old Ma”Strong – Lila Goldstein
- SoupySue – Katie Kopp
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URINETOWN THE MUSICAL, music and lyrics by Mark Hollmann, book and lyrics by Greg Kotis. Urinetown was produced on Broadway in September, 2001, by the Araca Group and Dodger Theatricals in association with TheaterDreams, Inc., and Lauren Mitchell. Urinetown is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. www.MTIShows.com