Urinetown: The perfect mix of satirical humor and music

Akshara Majjiga

“It’s a privilege to pee.”

And with that final note, the chorus of the cast behind her, senior Natalie Standridge — who plays Mrs. Pennywise — ended the song, “Privilege to Pee,” to thunderous applause and laughter. Then, they moved on to the next scene.

As the last mainstage production of the 2017-18 school year, the MVHS drama department performed their rendition of “Urinetown,” a play that first premiered off Broadway in 2001. The musical was directed by long term substitute drama teacher Jeffrey Adams, and included upbeat music and a unique story-telling style in which certain characters seemed to recognize that they were in a play. The script depicted a society in which the government charged individuals a fee to use the restroom.

With the narrators of the story, Officer Lockstock played by senior Jeremi Kalkowski and Little Sally played by senior ZaZu Lippert, leading the storyline, MVHS’s rendition of “Urinetown” was a combination of funny, quirky and relatable. The story included a romantic storyline, satire and an unexpected ending that added to its appeal. Despite the unusual name, the theater was filled with eager students looking for a unique production.

Besides the play itself, there was also a live orchestra accompaniment, directed by conductor and pianist Christopher Hewitt. The music varied between upbeat and emotional. Although at times it was hard to hear the ensemble over the band, the music was played beautifully and the execution of each song was impeccable. The main characters’ solos were well complimented by the strong vocals of the ensemble who were directed by Vocal Director Monique Hafen. Well-coordinated dance numbers, choreographed by Claire Calalo, bookended the production and added to the energy of the cast and the audience.

The portrayal of the play itself was marvelous, but the set design was easily one of the best parts of the play. The set, although shadowed in the dark to emulate the vibe of a dirty town, was massive and very well constructed. Graffiti littered the large grey set, adding some color and personality to an otherwise barren and somewhat depressing urban setting. Despite being stationary due to its overwhelming size, the cast incorporated the set into every scene, by using props to depict different scenes, but still keeping it as a backdrop.

Also overlooked by many was the technical effort that went into producing the play. With the usage of different lighting, from sickly green to demonstrate flashbacks and scenes that happened in the minds of the characters, to a bright orange to highlight the sun in the distance, the technical crew did a wonderful job of showcasing the emotions that were mirrored by the actors on the stage. Lighting was even used in one dance number as the ensemble, dressed in police uniforms, flashed their flashlights into the eyes of the audience, catching them off guard for a second.

Overall, “Urinetown” was a well-done and creative musical that brought out a new side of MVHS, using a more sarcastic tone than previously done in the past. Each individual actor brought their characters to life, all while dancing and singing with unmatched energy. “Urinetown” was a unique play for anyone looking for a more in-depth storyline and wonderful music.

Click through the photo gallery below for highlights of “Urinetown.”

Photos used with permission of Justin Kim.