The houselights go dim, and a Danny Elfman-esque overture pipes up from a five-piece orchestra. A bright flashlight emerges into the scene, accompanied by a mischievous Officer Lockstock, the story’s leading narrator. This is Urinetown – the musical. First performed on a gloomy May day in 2001, Orange County School of the Art’s (OCSA) performance will be just as fresh, compelling, and humorous as the original.
Urinetown follows the plot of a dystopian city where an intrusive water shortage has resulted in citizens having to pay to pee. Public toilets are controlled by the evil Urine Good Company (UGC), presided over by villain Caldwell B. Cladwell. Revolution erupts when average-man-turned-hero Bobby Strong raises his voice against Urine Good Company’s harsh laws, and the oppressed, destitute citizens of Urinetown join together to reshape their society and fight against the UGC. Along the way, we watch as romance, hope, and satire take center stage.
Driven by powerful performances from Camryn Kim (Little Sally) and Chanel Morehead (Penelope Pennywise), and starring Madi Moet and Cooper Reynolds as the iconic Hope Cladwell and Bobby Strong, Musical Theatre conservatory’s production of Urinetown maintained the heart of the original.
For one thing, Urinetown is not an easy show to execute. It not only requires taxing vocal performances from the entire cast, but its realistic nature also demands to be portrayed on stage, requiring spot-on acting and a strong, fearless ensemble. OCSA’s performers did a fantastic job achieving all of this.
The two principal narrators of the show, Officer Lockstock and Little Sally, guide us through Urinetown’s complex, and sometimes ironic story. They’re the ones responsible for “breaking the fourth wall”, and keeping the audience on the edge of their seats with their heads spinning. Little Sally is an especially challenging role. She is a dynamic character, facing a wide range of emotions and desires, while also carrying the heavy experiences of any other Urinetown citizen. Camryn Kim did an amazing job bringing to life every aspect of Little Sally. From the moving ballad “Tell Her I Love Her” to her moments as a rebellious citizen, Camryn achieved that perfect balance, taking on Little Sally’s complexity perfectly.
Griffin Runnels takes on an important role as well. The privileged, evil villain in Urinetown’s allegorical storyline, Runnels powers an exceptional Mr. Cladwell. His manipulative edge and lack of human sympathy is shown loud and clear. Chanel Morehead, who plays the authoritative Penelope Pennywise, stands out with stellar vocal performances.
But some of the most touching moments of Urinetown are between lovers Hope Cladwell and Bobby Strong. Their relationship is fundamental to the beauty, tragedy, and reality behind the Urinetown story. Madi Moet shines as the positive and pious Hope and Cooper Reynolds is a strong and realistic revolutionary. They each surpassed incredible vocal performances, and maintained excellent chemistry.
Beyond all of the humor, romance, and satire, the brilliance of Urinetown lies in its metaphors and symbolism. It is a cautionary tale, both political and metaphorical, complex but simple. This makes every role crucial to telling the story.