I began my 2014 review of a production of this musical by the much-missed C-R Productions with the following: “Sometimes a show comes along whose parts are greater than the sum, and—for my money—such is the case with ‘Urinetown.’“
I still feel this way, but any hesitation I have about the material should not dissuade you from attending the Schenectady Light Opera Company treatment. Under funny man Marc Christopher’s direction, this high-powered, thoroughly polished mounting will likely be on my 10-best list for 2017—and it’s only January.
Funny man? Those who saw Christopher last spring in SLOC’s “The Producers” will understand why he chose this piece: it appeals to his comic sensibility and go-for-broke energy. The crack tech team of Adam M. Coons, Kody Carpenter, Justin DiMaria, J.J. Paul, Greg Rucinski, Bob Healey, Michael Camelo, and producer Jill Ross got Christopher’s concept and delivered in spades.
Mark Hollmann & Greg Kotis have created a satire of corporate greed--reminiscent of Marc Blitzstein’s 1930s “The Cradle Will Rock,” but a relevant topic in any era—wherein Caldwell B. Cladwell (Chris Guyon, fine on “Don’t Be the Bunny”) has the whole town by the nether regions by turning a 20-year drought into a money-making scheme: all toilets are now public, and you have to pay to pee or suffer dire consequences.
Somewhere along the way, however, Hollman & Kotis also decided to send up the genre itself, so in the opening number Officer Lockstock (an estimable James Alexander) tells us that the show is a musical. As the evening progresses, you’ll see references to hits like “Pirates of Penzance,” “Les Miserables,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “West Side Story,” and “Chicago.” In fact the general goofiness of the script put me in mind of Mel Brooks’s scattershot approach to playwriting.
Musical director Adrienne Sherman and choreographer Trish Scott have trained the large ensemble to a fare-thee-well: the acting, singing, and dancing are so spot-on that you can’t believe these performers have day jobs. “It’s a Privilege to Pee,” “Snuff That Girl,” and “Run Freedom Run” will knock you out.
Elizabeth Corey as Little Becky Two-Shoes is as deliciously wacky as Carol Burnett; Christine Meglino, as sweet, but savvy, Little Sally, amusingly delivers “Tell Her I Love Her”; and Leslie Eliashuk’s Penelope Pennywise is a scary force of nature, like a not-so-distant relative of Mrs. Lovett in “Sweeney Todd.”
As the fierce Hot Blades Harry, Jack Boggan blows the roof off “Snuff That Girl.”
Matthew Dembling is utterly winning as Bobby Strong, the hero who is initially shy, but who finally speaks truth to power. He is in fine voice on “Look at the Sky” and “Run Freedom Run.” As Cladwell’s daughter, Hope, Allison McCardle is perky, sincere, and slightly dim—just right! McCardle and Dembling are at their sweetest and funniest on “Follow Your Heart.”
This talented cast is having a ball; you will, too.