With an opening night reception Thursday and talk-back with cast and crew after Friday's showing, the Tony Award-winning musical Urinetown is unlike any other that has found its way to DePauw.
Urinetown is the story of a fictional town where the use of private toilets has been banned in an attempt to regulate water consumption. Citizens pay to use public amenities owned by Urine Good Company (UGC), a corrupt corporation run by Caldwell B. Cladwell. This causes friction between the citizens and the business people, which carries on through the musical.
More specifically, this musical is most accurately described as a horrifying, dark comedy. The title itself is sure to garner some laughs as well as some confusion. It's cleverly titled Urinetown because urine is, indeed, a central topic.
In the process of choosing a musical for the fall semester, many factors contributed to director Susan Anthony's ultimate decision to produce Urinetown. Included among those was the size of the pit (where the band plays) and having instrumentalists willing to play the specific music. The deal breaker, Anthony says, was the topic of the production.
"Because of the interest here at DePauw with sustainability, the show is darkly funny," Anthony said. "The music is really good, but it's got a deadly message about using our resources wisely."
The message of the show seems to be just as compelling as the show itself. It is not the standard boy meets girl and they fall in love type of show.
"[The musical] allows the audience to sit back and relax and let the performance wash over them," Anthony said. "[Students can] look at the situation the play was depicting and keep their focus on that, rather than connecting emotionally."
The show seems to make fun of itself, letting the audience know that what they are watching is indeed a theatrical performance. This is heightened by the dingy and seemingly unfinished set with obvious signs showing the audience where each scene takes place.
Even the dialogue between the characters is witty. The narrator moves the story along by breaking the ‘fourth wall' of acting and interacting with the audience, foreshadowing quite a bit along the way. The narrator is still involved in the story as he interacts with other characters, one aspect that makes this musical so unique.
The music is catchy with very jazzy and high-spirited sounds, in contrast to the plot of the musical itself. The two-hour show is filled with dancing, acting and singing reflective of the cast's hard work.
All of this, of course, didn't come together in just a few days' work. The process started last semester as auditions were held at the end of the year. Before the summer, all lead roles and a production crew were established. Senior Samantha March, the production stage manager, was asked to take the position while off-campus doing an internship in New York City. She was asked to quickly recruit a production team as well.
"Everyone got their scores over the summer and stared rehearsing the week before school started," March said. "We've had rehearsals every day for four hours except on Friday and Saturday."
They also held auditions in the fall to help create the large 31-person ensemble. Anthony encouraged this large number, wanting to give more people an opportunity to be involved with the musical.
Lead actors Case Nafziger and Claire Wilkinson perform solos and duets throughout the musical, complemented by interspersed ensemble numbers. In the second act alone, the cast group known as "the rebels" has three fast-paced, physically-tasking musical numbers.
Urinetown runs all weekend, and appeals to musical theater-lovers and sustainability activists alike with equal doses of music, humor and telling social commentary.
Tickets can be purchased at the box office $3 — students | $6 — general public
Friday, Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m. in Moore Theatre
Saturday, Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Moore Theatre
Sunday, Oct. 9 at 3 p.m. in Moore Theatre