BWW Review: URINETOWN at Mesa Encore Theatre
Satirical works tend to resurface during trying social and political times, and Mesa Encore Theatre's production of Urinetown timing is impeccable. Urinetown takes place in a dystopian-esque world, where due to a severe drought, private toilets are banned by the government, and citizens can only relieve themselves via costly public toilets.
The protagonist is young, idealist Bobby Strong, portrayed by stellar Nicholas Gunnell, set on running a revolution to provide free amenities to every person. He falls in love with daughter of the toilet empire mogul, Hope, played by the hilarious Taylor Moskowitz. Gunnell and Moskowitz both possess exceptional comedic timing, and fantastic voices to boot. Their onstage chemistry is undeniable, and they fulfill their character's tropes with justice.
The show frequently breaks the fourth wall, with Officer Lockstock, played by Mark Hackmann, serving as the primary narrator, along with Alyssa Granger, who plays Little Sally. Both do a fantastic job of weaving in and out of their "narrative characters" and breaking the fourth wall, to their normal characters part of the plot. Additionally, Heidi-Liz Johnson, who plays Pennywise, and Tim Fiscus, who plays the privatized pee mogul, Caldwell B. Cladwell, are both shining stars with strong stage presence and fantastic character acting. The ensemble is amazing, each performer fully committed to their part.
What makes Urinetown truly special, is how it refuses to take itself too seriously. By constantly breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to the audience, going as far to rant about exposition and plot points, as well as mocking well-known musicals such as Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera, Urinetown creates an energy that pairs with its satirical themes well, without coming off as pseudo-intellectual or stuffy. Rather, it exposes the harsh truths of corrupt men and broken ideals.
Overall, Urinetown posits several questions in its plot, but never answers them: is a corrupt government better than no government? Should the needs of the lower class be sacrificed in order to protect the majority people? What is morality, and how do we obtain that balance?
Urinetown is a wonderful production, full of hearty laughs, good times, and existential thought.
For more information on Mesa Encore Theatre's upcoming productions, head to http://mesaencoretheatre.com/
Photo credit: Sarah Rodgers