Review: Fun and Games at URINETOWN THE MUSICAL

Urinetown The Musical/book & lyrics by Greg Kotis/music & lyrics by Mark Hollman/directed by Kari Hayter/Coeurage Theatre Company at The Historic Lankershim Arts Center/through December 3/extension: January 6 - February 25, 2017 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm

Coeurage Theatre Company are known around town as the rebels, the 'pay what you want' company. Their motto? "Nobody should have to pay high prices to see good theatre". Nice reminder in these depression era times where our government is wracked by the entree of a despicably inept political leader and the majority of our middle-class struggle to make ends meet. The locale of this satirical musical comedy Urinetown, which had its Broadway run in 2001 with 10 Tony nominations, is a typicAl Small city in a futuristic time where a drought has caused a water shortage and its citizens no longer have private amenities. They must urinate in public places and pay a fee to do so. The greedy Urine Good Company controls the enterprise, and if people pee in the bushes, they are arrested and thrown into Urinetown. Now in a striking production by the Coeurage Theatre Company at the Historic Lankershim Arts Center, the rarely revived Urinetown strikes s chord in our troubled times, as audiences laugh away problems that, when it comes right down to it, may not be that unimaginable.

Make no mistake about it, Urinetown as a satire is one big overblown cartoon, a fairy tale gone to extremes, and as such is rousingly funny. Words and phrases are intensely exaggerated in dialogue and song. Yet despite its cartoonishness, there's a real spark of gutterlike reality that pokes its head through vehemently as people march rebelliously around the stage like the revolutionaries straight out of Les Mis. It grabs audience attention from the getgo... and there isn't one narrator, but two: brusque Officer Lockstock (Ted Barton) and poor downtrodden homeless kid Little Sally (Nicole Monet) who set the tone of Urinetown. Little Sally observes and questions "What is Urinetown?" Lockstock answers, "This is Urinetown the Musical. You won't see Urinetown until Act II". Little Sally: "If musical comedy is supposed to end happily with good winning over evil, why is Urinetown the same?" The answer: "That's just the way it goes, kiddo!" Or some similar remark. Yes, this is an inside look at the structure of musical comedy as well as a political satire. These two narrators keep it all on track, never allowing us to forget where we are or what is truly happening. This adds so much humor in Greg Kotis's stellar book...and in Mark Hollman's pounding and uplifting musical score. Both blend together beautifully. grab hold of you and do not let go.

I won't spoil the plot, other than to say that Urine Good Company is run by evil Caldwell B. Cladwell (Gary Lamb) whose daughter Hope (Ashley Kane) - now isn't this the perfect name for a heroine? - falls in love with Bobby Strong (Daniel Bellusci), the young revolutionary who represents the people her father keeps securely underfoot. Does she stay loyal to her family roots or does she switch sides and help to champion the cause for justice? Well, you'll see when you see the play.

With Kari Hayter's brilliant staging and Christopher M. Albrecht's astounding choreography to guide them, the cast are nothing short of a marvel. Everyone has his or her turn in the spotlight, but there are per usual some standout performances. Barton and Monet are sensationally gutsy as the narrators, Lamb appropriately stern, hateful and dictatorial as Cladwell. and Bellusci and Kane deliciously on target as the revolutionary lovers. Janna Cardia steals her scenes as the outraged and outrageous Penelope Pennywise and in a smaller role, Jamie Pierce is a standout as the very gay assistant to Cladwell, Mr. McQueen. The entire ensemble of 16 are triple threat performers who make the stage come alive with their daunting singing, dancing and acting. Matt Scarpino's set design is bleak and functionally on target and Emily Brown Kucera's costumes, right.on dismal or colorful as the case may be. Praise as well to musical director Gregory Nabours and to piano accompanist Peter Shannon, who plays magnificently.

Don't miss Urinetown the Musical! And...please don't be put off by the title! It's fun, fun, fun from beginning to end, and the heart-pounding music will pick you up and give you a spirited will to stand up and fight for what is right! As to the rebellious Coeurage Theatre Company, they have achieved what they set out to do, bring great theatre to the community at an affordable price.


Pacific Symphony & Pacific Chorale Present Long Awaited World Premiere Of James MacMil Photo
Pacific Symphony & Pacific Chorale Present Long Awaited World Premiere Of James MacMillan's FIAT LUX, June 15-17

For the final concert of the 2022-23 Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation Classical Series, Music Director Carl St.Clair transforms the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall's stunning acoustics into a “Cathedral of Sound” (June 15-17) in a program that spans five centuries and celebrates spirituality.

AN EVENING WITH PATRICK STEWART Presented By The Wallis In Association With Film Independe Photo
AN EVENING WITH PATRICK STEWART Presented By The Wallis In Association With Film Independent, June 14

Film @ The Wallis in association with Film Independent Presents An Evening With…Patrick Stewart, featuring a conversation with the iconic actor about his life and remarkable career spanning nearly seven decades moderated by actor/director Jonathan Frakes (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”) on Wednesday, June 14, 2023, 7:30 pm, in The Wallis' Bram Goldsmith Theater.

Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle  Announces Officers And Members For 2023 Season Photo
Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle  Announces Officers And Members For 2023 Season

The 2023 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle has announced its current officers and members for the upcoming 2023 season. Founded in 1969, the Circle currently includes 21 critics covering productions across the Greater Los Angeles area.  

Photos: Open Fist Theatre Companys Joyous Revival Of STARMITES Opens This Weekend At Atwat Photo
Photos: Open Fist Theatre Company's Joyous Revival Of STARMITES Opens This Weekend At Atwater Village Theatre

Open Fist Theatre Company’s joyous revival of sci-fi musical adventure ‘Starmites’ opens this weekend at Atwater Village Theatre.. See photos from the production!

From This Author - Don Grigware

  Don Grigware was a writer for BroadwayWorld through December 2019.                                    &... (read more about this author)


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