Reviewed by Tony Annicone
Footlights Repertory Theatre Company’s first junior show of this year is “Urinetown” which won three Tony Awards in 2002. “Urinetown” is set in the future where a drought of epic proportions has forced corrupt officials to come up with a unique way to conserve water: people may only use public restrooms and pay for the privilege to pee. Fed up citizens take to the streets but those caught breaking the law are carted off to the mysterious “Urinetown” never to be seen or heard from again. This satirical musical pokes fun at and sends up “The Threepenny Opera”, “Annie”, “Fiddler on the Roof”, “West Side Story” and Gershwin romances simultaneously. Directors Neil Jeronimo and Tricia Rodrigues, choreographer Barry Pereira, musical director Kasey Jeronimo and orchestra conductor Jameson Ward win their talented cast a well deserved standing ovation at the end of the show. “Urinetown” is dedicated to the loving memory of Steve Nichols.
Neil and Tricia infuse their young cast with high energy and insight to these wacky characters while Barry creates some brilliant dance numbers which they execute perfectly. They include a kick line, a Les Miserables type dance and a bottle dance ala Fiddler. Kasey taught all the intricate songs while Jameson leads a topnotch 5 piece orchestra while conducting and playing the piano. The narrator of the show, Officer Lockstock greets and informs us with the lyrics, “Better hope your pennies add up to the fee, we can’t have you peeing for free.” He tells us Urinetown is a mythical place filled with symbolism and stuff like that but it won’t be shown until the second act. Lockstock’s lines are clever, witty and humorous and are delivered terrifically by Edward Plante one of the biggest scene stealers, . He has displayed his acting prowess in past shows. displays his strong voice and dancing talents in this role. He leads off with the opening number and with his fellow cops does “Cop Song” which sounds like “Rock Island” from “The Music Man.” His fellow officer, Barrel is humorously played by Reva Tinkham. She wins many laughs as the bumbling aide to the chief officer. Another scene stealer is Sydney Rutkowski as Little Sally who is the voice of reason in this madcap show. She asks all the hard hitting questions of Lockstock who is unable to answer them including metaphysical and hydraulics questions. Sydney displays her voice in group numbers and in “Tell Her I Love Her” about Bobby and Hope.
The young lovers in the show are played by Derek Alexander and Isabella Manchester as Bobby Strong, a poor boy and Hope Cladwell, a rich girl. They meet and fall in love after his father is brought to Urinetown after not paying to pee. Bobby decides to stage an uprising not realizing that Hope’s father is the culprit. They display their strong acting talents and powerful tenor and soprano voices in “Follow Your Heart” where they listen to each others heart which wins many laughs. Derek also sings “Look at the Sky” which is like “Les Miserables” and “Run Freedom Run”, the revival song. Bella sings the powerhouse ballad, “I See a River” which stops the show with power and punch. They both do a superb job as these characters.
The villain of the show is Caldwell B. Cladwell who controls the public amenities corporation and treats his cohorts like dirt. Nathaniel James LeBoeuf is a hoot as this Snidley Whiplash type character, an evil cad. He gets to sing and strut his stuff in the “Mr. Cladwell” number with his minions as well as in “Don’t Be a Bunny” which sounds like “Little Girls” from “Annie” as he sings comically while the chorus wears rabbit ears. Derek Rivera does a good job as McQueen, Cladwell’s right hand man who does his dirty work as does Daniel Garcia as Senator Fipp, a shifty public official (sounds like current day politics) who sings in the quintet number, “Why Did I Listen to that Man” with Lockstock, Barrel, Hope and Penelope. Makenna Beaudoin plays the Brechtian character of Penelope Pennywise, a tough as nails broad. She runs public toilet number 9 with an iron fist. Her powerful voice soars in “It’s a Privilege to Pee” with her poor customers while threatening to call the cops on them. She also sings the duet, “I’m Sorry” with Nate when she spills a secret to him from their past. Other comic characters include John Thomas Garcia as Hot Blades Harry and Kylie Howard as Little Becky Two-Shoes. She wears a pregnancy pad in this role. They lead the chorus in “Snuff the Girl” which is like “Cool” from “West Side Story” and in “We’re Not Sorry” which turns into an energetic Charleston. Kudos to the whole cast and crew on a dynamic performance. So for a splendid rendition of a contemporary musical with a script that could be ripped from today’s headlines, be sure to see “Urinetown” by Footlight’s Jr for a fabulous night of musical theatre.
URINETOWN (25 to 27 January)
Footlights Repertory Theatre Jr Division, Morton Middle School, 1135 North Main Street, Fall River, MA
774-526-9972 or www.footlights.net