Even though a friend gave “Urinetown: The Musical” rave reviews, the title made me just as much a skeptic as I’m sure it does for most. But the skepticism quickly gave way to surprise and delight as a clever script with fantastic music, an ensemble of talented actors, and visually stimulating stage, lights, and choreography brought this story to life.
If you’re not familiar with the award-winning Broadway show, it’s a humorous musical satire that won, among others, three Tonys and three Outer Critic’s Circle Awards. Playing at the Roseville Theatre through this weekend, the story centers around a 20-year drought that has people stripped of the privilege of private toilets and forced to pay to pee in public restrooms. Revolution ensues after the poor decide they won’t be financially taken advantage of any longer by the big, monopolizing corporation that controls everything (cue satire about corruption, corporate greed, bureaucracy, and capitalism).
While the play opens with a strong song that immediately had me questioning my initial skepticism, it still takes a few to get past the unusual premise of the show. But within no time I almost forgot the peeing premise and jumped on the revolution bandwagon while becoming increasingly impressed with the vocals of the lead actors, the catchy-ness of the songs, and the witty humor littered throughout.
Another satirical jab the play takes is at theatre itself. Production Director, Colton Archery, made a point to exaggerate each character’s personality, which worked well as audience members soon picked up that the play also mocks and mimics, both in the dialogue and choreography, various theatrical styles and character-types as well as some familiar classics such as Les Miserables, Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, and Annie. It’s fun to find the references so keep a lookout.
The play is presented by the Roseville Theatre Arts Academy, a youth workshop theater that has a variety of programs for youth 4-20 years old. This production required auditions for 10-20 years olds—which is one of the things that blew me away about this play: based on the stage presence of the actors and spot on delivery of lines and songs, you would have never guessed the actors were so young. Lead by great performances from Kevin Nelson, Jake Young, Julia Hixon, Amanda Duisenberg, Miriam Mars, and Luke Donahue, the supporting cast is just as invested in their characters as the leads.
I spoke to RTAA co-founder and Program Director, Michelle Rasky, before the show and asked about the actors. “The talent is incredible,” she said. “You never think for a second of their age because they’re so good and they love the show so much that their passion just explodes.”
A good indication of a play’s success is audience reaction. I’ll tell you right now—the audience loved the show. Members readily laughed, thoroughly cheered, and even clapped along to the energetic, gospel-esque “Run, Freedom, Run”. Comments I overheard in the chatter of the crowd were “very fun”, “This is awesome! Wow!”, and “It’s amazing how many talented people there are.”
Don’t miss your chance to see a great show and support local theater—I assure you, you won’t be disappointed spending your entertainment dollars here.
“Urinetown: The Musical” is playing through March 21 on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sunday, March 15 at 2:00pm. Tickets are $13 in advance, $15 at the door. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit rosevilletheatreartsacademy.