The Norman Transcript

July 5, 2013

Sooner Theatre’s “Urinetown” packed with satire

By Arianna Pickard
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — “Urinetown the Musical.” Don’t over think the title. This production, coming to the Sooner Theatre in August, is exactly what it sounds like: Cue the potty jokes.

Despite the questionable title, Director Brandon Adams said the story, performed by 32 junior high and high school students, is remarkably clean.

“It’s a blessing and it’s a curse that people don’t know much about [‘Urinetown’],” Adams said. “The good side of that is you go in without many preconceived notions. The only downside is you’ve got to get people in here.”

“Urinetown,” written by New York playwright Greg Kotis in 2001, tells the story of a company capitalizing on a water shortage after a 20-year drought lead the government to ban private toilets. The company owns all the bathrooms and charges the public exorbitant fees to satisfy their needs. When people can’t pay, they are escorted to a mysterious place called Urinetown.

Bobby Strong grows sick of the mistreatment and leads a revolution against the executives.

Adams said the irreverent production is one of the more brilliant and witty musical theater scripts he’s seen over the past 10-15 years. “Urinetown” uses devices like satire and humor — comparable to “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” or sketches from “Saturday Night Live” — to make a statement.

Regular theater-goers will recognize both subtle and over-the-top blatant satires of classic musicals, Adams said, like “Les Miserables,” “West Side Story” and “Annie.”

Musical theater itself is even parodied in “Urinetown” by emphasizing the absurdity of “everybody just erupting into song and dance in a tense situation,” Stewart said.

Contrary to perhaps the whole idea of acting, Adams said characters acknowledge they’re performing on stage from the very beginning. This gives them a more free and relaxed atmosphere, almost an ad-libbed improv.

“There’s less rules that you have to follow,” he said. “If you want to just acknowledge that you’re outside of your light or this person came out of nowhere or all of a sudden you’re in song, those kinds of things you can poke fun at that in this show.”

Maura McMurray, Norman North High School sophomore who plays a scientist for the company that owns the bathrooms, described the production as a dark company.

But despite the dreary synopsis, the play is hilarious on stage, said Chelsea Thiessen, Norman High School sophomore who plays the overseer of one of the urinals.

Adams said the talented group of comedic performers was key in the decision to pick this show.

“It seemed like this was a really good group that could carry, not just perform, but the ability to recognize what style the show is,” he said.

Sidebar:

Performances of “Urinetown the Musical” are 7:30 p.m. Aug. 1-3 and 2 p.m. Aug. 2-4.

Tickets are $10. Tickets can be purchased online at soonertheatre.com, by phone at 405-321-9600 or at the Sooner Theatre box office, 101 E. Main St., 10 a.m. to noon and 2-5 p.m. Tuesday–Friday.

Cast:

Officer Lockstock: Tony Wilkinson

Penelope Pennywise: Brooke Lashar, Chelsea Thiessen

Bobby Strong: Riley Stewart

Little Sally: Kylie Anderson, Taylor Carmen

Dr. Billeaux: Maura McMurray, Abby Puckett

Mr. McQueen: Tommy Graham

Senator Fipp: Jake Musgrove

Officer Barrel: Robert Gibson

Hope Cladwell: Maddie Breedlove, Katherine Lock

Old Man Strong: Eaton York

Tiny Tom: Jacob Livesay

Soupy Sue: Maggie Gibson, Alexis Lanzo

Little Becky Two Shoes: Conor Austin

Bobby the Stockfish: Brady Bell, Stockton Cobb

Caldwell B. Cladwell: Tate Robison

4 Cops: Hannah Beeson, Katie Maloan, Ellen Melton

Josephine Strong: Sarah Royse

Mrs. Millennium: Emma Hochman

Hot Blades Harry: Eaton York

Billy Boy Bill: To be determined

Ensemble: Hannah Beeson, Brady Bell, Riley Benson, Rachel Chan, Bailey Churchill, Stockton Cobb, Katie Coggins, Nathan Ferrell, Sarah Geffre, Maggie Gibson, Hannah Hill, Emma Hochman, Sadie Hosler, Owen Joyner, Alexis Lanzo, Jacob Livesay, Katie Maloan, Riley McGinnis, Maura McMurray, Ellen Melton, Anna Carman Paden, Abby Puckett, Allison Pugh, Ashlea Stewart, Ben Yarborough