Urinetown: Theatre UAB presents big, irreverent, clean musical

“Urinetown” takes place in a mythical city with a water shortage where people have to pay to pee, until a hero takes a stand.

urinetown 1In a Gotham-like city, a catastrophic 20-year drought has led to a government-enforced ban on private toilets to conserve water. Citizens must use pay-per-use amenities owned and operated by Urine Good Co., a malevolent corporation run by the corrupt Caldwell B. Cladwell. Amid the people, a hero plans a revolution to lead them all to freedom.

That is the plot for “Urinetown,” a three-time Tony award-winning, uproariously funny musical by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis. The University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Theatre will present the musical April 9-13, with shows at 7:30 p.m. nightly April 9-12 and a matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 13, in the Sirote Theatre at UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. General admission tickets are $12 and $15, student tickets $6, and UAB employee and senior citizen tickets $10. Call 205-975-2787 for tickets. Visit Theatre UAB at www.uab.edu/theatre.

Audiences should not let the title or premise scare them, says Director Valerie Accetta, MFA, head of UAB Musical Theatre. “Urinetown” has been touted as reinvigorating the very notion of what a musical can be, she says. It opened on Broadway on September 20, 2001, only nine days after the Sept. 11 attacks, and it has found popularity in regional theaters around the country.

“‘Urinetown’ is an irreverent commentary on capitalism, class disparity, politics, the legal system and corporate mismanagement, all rolled up in a big, raucous musical,” Accetta said. “In addition, it pokes fun at the Broadway musical theater genre, with numbers parodying ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ ‘Les Miserables,’ ‘The Threepenny Opera’ and ‘Chicago.’”

“‘Urinetown’ is an irreverent commentary on capitalism, class disparity, politics, the legal system and corporate mismanagement, all rolled up in a big, raucous musical. In addition, it pokes fun at the Broadway musical theater genre, with numbers parodying ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ ‘Les Miserables,’ ‘The Threepenny Opera’ and ‘Chicago.’”

Accetta says the “hilarious and wonderfully clever” musical provides major opportunities for Theatre UAB students, allowing them the chance to explore numerous vocal and movement styles.

“From golden age musical theater to gospel, Busby Berkeley to Bob Fosse, the musical numbers run the gamut of styles, introducing our students to the full spectrum of musical theater conventions,” she said. “It is also a character-driven piece, allowing our students to create and embody unique and humorous characters with incredibly high stakes.”

The near all-Alabama cast includes Professor of Theatre Dennis McLernon as Caldwell B. Cladwell and students Rebecca Harper of Valley Head as Hope Cladwell; Ella Smitherman of Birmingham as Cladwell’s Secretary; Diego Faulkner of Pleasant Grove as Old Man Strong; Jake Hemminger of Montgomery as Bobby Strong; Taylor Richardson of Corner as Josephine Strong; Garan Tinsley of Collinsville as Officer Barrel; Kyle Hulcher of Fort Worth, Texas, as Officer Lockstock; Byron King of Prattville as Dr. Billeaux; Perry McKee of Jackson as Mr. McQueen; Clay Boyce of Mobile as Senator Fipp; Russell Alexander of Montgomery as Hot Blades Harry/Cop; Ben Lundy of Fairhope as Tiny Tom/Cop; Nole Jones of Prattville as Robby The Stockfish/Executive No. 1; Terrance Campbell of Leeds as Billy Boy Bill/Executive No. 2; Sarah Pullen of Huntsville as Penelope Pennywise; Morgan Walston of Birmingham as Little Becky Two-Shoes/Cop; Alora King of Boonsboro, Md., as Little Sally; Allison Shackelford of Birmingham as Soupy Sue/Cop; and Ali Ribe of Indian Springs as Mrs. Millenium. The crew includes assistant director Brenna Clark of Dogtown; assistant choreographer Aly Merrell of Leeds; assistant costume design by Victoria Morales of Priceville; assistant scenic design by Jessica L. Mathews of Hoover and Andrew Taylor of Suwanee, Ga.; and stage management by Angela Carstensen of San Francisco, Calif.

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