Urinetown is not your usual musical – we were promised this early on. The play takes place in a time where big business controls the one bodily function where when you need to go, you need to go. That’s right – paying for the right to pee. Although Urinetown is not the place you want to be, you definitely want to be in the Union Theatre to see this very professional production.
My utmost congratulations for a phenomenal show firstly goes to the creative team. Their vision for the set, choreography, and the direction of the play turned a dark show into one that made the audience sit in delight. The set, though simple, created a gloomy atmosphere that highlighted the misery of the town quite well. However, I do believe the transitions between scenes and set pieces could be a bit smoother. The choreographer Joel Anderson did a phenomenal job in creating unified dance numbers suitable to all cast members’ dance abilities. The costume designer Rachel Mclean must also be noted for the creativity and symbolic nature of the characters’ attire.
Musical Director CJ Johnson and the band deserve some focus; I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of sound from such a small band. They really show that small is powerful. Hats off to the musical director but also Lachie Bagnara, Joshua Tram, Jess Walsh and George Parker – incredibly impressive!
It is true what they say: it’s not the show that leaves the audience in awe, it’s the cast, and this cast is nothing short of talented! The ensemble should be heavily congratulated. Their intensity created a perfectly miserable atmosphere. Facial expressions and sharp movements, although little, make a massive difference and the ensemble nailed it in every scene.
The two main characters, Bobby (Jye Cannon) and Hope (Nat Monalto) were played with great accuracy and dexterity. Cannon played a newly active political radical with great passion for his journey. While his voice shone in the song ‘Freedom’, some more attention should be paid to diction and accuracy on the higher register. Nat Monalto played the role of Hope with innocence and grace. Her operatic voice created lovely smooth harmonies and provided great contrast to the intense musical.
Supporting roles were just as strong as the leads themselves. Len Duniec, who played Officer Lockstock, did a great job as the show’s narrator. Her comedic timing and clear diction enabled the audience to understand the plot of the show and the underlying messages. Her counterpart, Officer Barrel (Grace Haslinghouse), was a prime example of physical satire. Her exaggerated facial expressions and movements managed to make the audience laugh in very dark circumstances. Leading the charge of the Urine Good Company is Mr Cladwell, played by Henry Shaw. His deep register was flawless, clear in both diction and tone, and his mannerisms perfectly reflected the character’s power and domineering personality. He was the stand out of this production.
Improvements for the show could be made through the sound quality. The microphones sometimes lacked the ability to pick up the actors, thus allowing the audience to miss parts of lines or songs. In general, the soloists should note that power is not always denoted by volume. Some high notes in particular songs felt quite forced.
Urinetown by UMMTA was overall a phenomenal and professional production. It’s a show that differs from traditional musicals, with themes that are evident in the world today. Urinetown educates us on the extremes of power and greed, and the power of our own voices.
UMMTA’s Urine Town closes on the 28th of May. Audiences should note an alternating cast but will be amazed no matter who is being showcased!