“It’s definitely a very good show that has a lot more to offer than people can tell just from the title. The show covers comedy, farce, and corruption, all while spoofing other Tony Award-winning musicals,” said Cam Schiavo (‘19), who will be playing lead roles as Officer Lockstock and the narrator in the upcoming spring play, Urinetown: The Musical.
As opening night, on May 23, of Urinetown: The Musical approaches, the cast and crew have been working hard to build the set, rehearse the play, and make final adjustments. Several cast members were initially skeptical about the play, but their mindset has changed after learning more about the musical.
Meredith Freeman-Caple is both a teacher and the head of the drama department at ORHS. She has been directing both plays and musicals for over 10 years. “The students have been working hard on this play since February. They’re doing great with it,” she said. “I think it will be fantastic!”
Similarly, Ian Miles (‘19), who will be playing Bobby Strong, one of the lead roles in the play, noted, “we have been working really hard these past few months. It’s really challenging to balance learning a full show with school, so I am just so proud of how much work everyone put in to make the show look as good as it does.”
Prior to understanding the premise of the musical, many actors and actresses alike were skeptical about performing it, given the name and the unfamiliarity of it. Sofia Testa (‘21), who will be playing one of the guards of the bathrooms, Penny Pennywise, noted, “I wasn’t so sure about this play at first. I had never heard of Urinetown: The Musical before auditions, and I thought the concept of paying to pee was a little wacky.”
Likewise, Schiavo said, “I didn’t know anything about the musical when I had first heard the name so I was a little skeptical of how good it was actually going to be. It sounded weird, and I almost decided not to do it at all.”
However, the plot has drawn some ORHS students’ attention, Haley Brown-Bloom (‘19) being one of them, both for her interest in watching her friends perform and because she said, “I have never heard of it before. I was pretty intrigued by the title and have heard a few bits of information from my friends that I have to piece together by going.” She added, “I think it’s going to be really interesting, and different from past years’ musicals.”
Because of the uniqueness of the plot, as highlighted by Brown-Bloom, many of the cast members have said that this play has been more challenging than previous plays they have done. Schiavo claimed, “I believe Ms. Caple chose this show in part to challenge us as actors and actresses.”
Testa can attest to this because she said that the character she is playing in the musical is a lot different than characters she has played in other performances in the past. On top of this, she mentioned, “Urinetown is dark, dingy, and overall delivers a completely different vibe from shows I’ve done in the past.”
Despite the challenges, after the cast members further researched the meaning of the musical and the characters in the play, they became more fond of it. Schiavo reiterated this, saying, “I stuck with the play after I found out the premise of the show and have been eager to do it ever since.”
The basis of the play was summarized by Freeman-Caple as: “a post apocalyptic musical about a time when corporations controlled the rights to use the ‘Facilities.’”
More specifically, this play takes place in a city in the mid 1900’s where the majority of the citizens are a part of the low-class economically. This shortage of money is compounded by a water shortage, which leads to pay-per-use public bathrooms and arrests of unsanitary offenders. The corporation that runs these bathrooms is called the Urine Good Company and the CEO of the company is Caldwell B. His daughter, Hope, falls in love with Bobby Strong, the leader of the long overdue revolution. This initiates chaos among the characters.
Several of the actors and actresses have detailed how relevant the premise of this play is in today’s society. Miles said, “this play is a lot more modern and relevant than other plays we’ve done. Other plays do highlight societal issues, but the entire premise of this play is built on the issues of resource scarcity and oppression.”
The relevance of this play and the way that it is presented has made the actors even more excited to showcase it. Testa said, “I’m most excited for the audience’s reaction. I hope some will see through the silliness of it all and pick up on the message of the play. All seriousness aside, I hope they have a few good laughs.”
The drama department is ready to perform starting Thursday, May 23 through Friday, May 24 at 7 PM. The cast’s final performance will be on Saturday, May 25 at 2 PM. Admission is $7 for students and $10 for adults.
Written by Abby Schmitt