banner

reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Urinetown is one of those musicals which I have heard a lot about, but never have seen. Summer Stock Stage’s young performers’ production of the show was a great intro to this quirky, wildly original show. Set in a town suffering a 20 year drought, with water in such short supply that normal bathroom functions are regulated by the government and a huge conglomerate (cleverly named Urine Good Company – UGC), this is a story of a rebellion by the people after the fees to use the company owned facilities are increased. Led by Bobby Strong, the seditious mob breaks through the pay lines for free usage, and causes trouble for the head of UGC, Caldwell B. Cladwell. Meanwhile, Cladwell’s daughter Hope returns from college in time to fall for Bobby (possibly the only musical cliché in the story) right after she begins working for her father. The rebellion sweeps Bobby and Hope into a whirlwind of events that end with a very un-musical-comedy like thud of reality (as one character says in dismay – “What kinda musical IS this?”). It all adds up to be delightfully fresh and excellently produced by the SSS company.

36344278_2027680960637118_9084029742855749632_n

Chase Infiniti and Cameron Brown (center) in a scene from Summer Stock Stages’ production of “Urinetown”

The cast for this show is absolutely loaded with talented 13-19 year old performers from schools all over central Indiana. From leading roles to featured roles to ensembles, these gifted young artists have all thrown themselves into singing, dancing and acting performances that are both impressive and satisfying. Co-directors Emily Ristine Holloway and Charles Goad, along with musical director Michael Berg Raunick, and choreographers Brandon Comer, Mariel Greenlee and Lily Wessel have the magic formulas needed to lead the 42 member cast in the right direction and attain the professional quality stage-work that was presented to an avidly appreciative audience.

Cameron Brown is extraordinary in his turn as Bobby Strong, and Chase Infiniti simply shines as Hope Caldwell. Both are gifted with fine vocal talents and dancing ability and they play opposite each other like old pros. They are exciting to watch.

Other standouts: Jack Ducat takes magnate Caldwell B. Cladwell to despicable levels with skill, Natalie Shilling is cute and very funny as Little Sally, and Nicholas Dunlap-Loomis is perfectly engaging as the show’s narrator, Officer Lockstock. Chinyelu Mwaafrika is powerful in his “Snuff That Girl” number, and Eva Scherrer shows off her excellent singing talents in a number of scenes as Penelope Pennywise. Michael Krauter makes the hilarious most of his Old Man Strong role. And a “nice to see you onstage again” shout-out to my 2013 B&B Sound of Music cast-mate, Madison Moll, who also does excellent work in her role.

Capture

Natalie Schilling  as Little Sally (center) in a scene from Summer Stock Stages’ production of “Urinetown”

Even with the fine assemblage of key performers working at such a very high level, I really cannot say enough about the ensemble players. There are 2 ensembles – the Rebel Ensemble and the Cladwell Ensemble and both provide some absolute knockout displays of dance and song. The choreographers did not coddle these youngsters; they had to learn some awesome combinations. Then they had to add in some tricky harmonizing for their vocals. They pulled off every challenge they were given with verve, and were a huge part of my enjoyment of the show. Kudos to all these great and talented ensemble kids.

The set design by Kristopher Steege (with artwork by Kyle Ragsdale) and costumes by Jeanne Bowling and Aaron Wardwell completed the wonderful visual aspects of the show.

Bottomline: You won’t find a better example of talented teens, under the direction of remarkable professionals, presenting a totally enjoyable version of a genuinely original show. Don’t miss ’em!

Only two more chances are available to see this energized staging of a truly unique show. Go to http://www.summerstockstage.com for all the info you need to catch these very talented performers.

 

Advertisements