‘Urinetown’ director sees dark musical as metaphor

Allison McArdle plays Hope and Matthew Dembling is Bobby in the Schenectady Light Opera Company production of “Urinetown,” openi
Allison McArdle plays Hope and Matthew Dembling is Bobby in the Schenectady Light Opera Company production of “Urinetown,” openi

Marc Christopher has always been a fan of musicals, especially those that make you think a little bit.

“I am very much into the darker musicals that make you feel various amounts of emotion within a two-hour period,” said Christopher, who is directing the Schenectady Light Opera Company production of “Urinetown,” opening Friday and running through Jan. 29. “Yes, this musical is very much a satire, but you can find some really powerful messages hidden in the hysterical book. When I got the opportunity to direct it I jumped on it immediately.”

Winner of the 2001 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score, “Urinetown” tells the story of a small municipality which because of a water shortage has enacted a ban on private toilets. All rest room activities are done in public toilets controlled by the UGC (Urine Good Company). To control water consumption, people have to pay to use the rest rooms and those who don’t are sent to a penal colony called Urinetown, never to return.

“This musical is so much more than a musical about ‘urine,’” said Christopher. “It’s a story about love, family, revolution, and standing up for what you believe in. I was first introduced to this show back in 2007. At the time I never understood the themes in the show until I was cast in another production and then I really sunk my teeth into it.”

Christopher has been seen on Capital Region stages in various roles, including the title character in “Shrek the Musical” and as Uncle Fester in “The Addams Family,” both at Home Made Theater, and as Franz Liebkind in “The Producers” at SLOC. “Urinetown” will be his first directing credit at SLOC.

SLOC veteran Matthew Dembling plays Bobby Strong, the hero of the show who falls for Hope Caldwell, played by Allison McArdle, the daughter of UGC’s CEO. Also in the cast are Christine Meglino, Leslie Eliashuk and James Alexander. Trish Dembling is the choreographer and Adrienne Sherman is the music director.

“The score is out of this world,” said Christopher, “and this cast really shines with all the rich harmonies.”
Christopher said his experience being a part of the cast of “Urinetown” back in 2007 was one of his best theater experiences, and he thinks his cast is feeling the same way.

“Everyone in this cast treats each other like family,” he said. “You can see it on the stage how close they’ve gotten throughout the process. Everyone wants to be there and they are having fun. They are passionate and I am so lucky to have them all. Everyone has been so supportive of my vision and have helped execute it on stage.”

While he’s looking forward to being back on stage himself soon, Christopher says he’s enjoying his directorial debut at SLOC.

“I am a very creative person,” he said. “Art is my passion. Be it directing, acting or painting, it’s creation. I am a lucky person to be able to do what I love. Acting, you create a person, but directing you can create an entire world.”

Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected]

WHERE: Schenectady Light Opera Company, 427 Franklin St., Schenectady
WHEN: Opens Friday and runs through Jan. 29; performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $28-$18
MORE INFO: 1-877-350-7378,

Categories: Entertainment

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