Urinetown leaves audiences almost wetting themselves in laughter

By Vivian Chu and Daniel Ho | Web Editor and Photo Editor

Irvington Conservatory Theater’s rendition of Urinetown, a satirical comedy musical lovingly dubbed Peepeetown by cast and crew alike, ran from Mar. 3 to Mar. 19 and drew in a vast audience due to its unique premise and ample humor.

Based on the book written by Greg Kotis, the musical is set in a future Fremont suffering from a 20 year drought. Public toilets are controlled by a megacorporation under the name of “Urine Good Company” to conserve water, and citizens are subjected to the authoritarian rule of Mr. Cladwell, played by senior Molly O’Donnell. In order to use amenities, townspeople must follow harsh laws and pay fees; disobedience is punishable by banishment to the dreaded Urinetown.

The complex set, constructed over the course of 3 weeks, consisted of several moving pieces such as amenities buildings and components of Mr. Cladwell’s expansive, luxurious office. Additionally, the integration of the pit orchestra into existing scenery generated a seamless image that created an immersive experience for the audience.

“I think the show is going very well,” said Director Matthew Ballin. “From the title one might not expect to have a real good time, but the audience seems to be eating it up, especially, our student audience members. The show is very funny and has great music and dance numbers. It’s fun for me to sit in the house and see the huge response from the audience each night. There was lots of laughter and several moments of elated shock and surprise. It’s a very interactive show.”

Many actors shared his sentiments, including senior Cindy Yang who recently joined the theater department in this production as one of the impoverished town citizens.

“I think it’s definitely fitting to do [Urinetown] this year, especially since politics has been in the spotlight recently,” said Yang. “It satirizes many aspects of our society without being too harsh about it; everything is in good taste and it’s very enjoyable to watch. It’s still mainly a comedy.”

There were a few things different about this musical than those in previous years,” said senior Colin Golder, who narrated the show as the infamous Officer Lockstock. “We had a new director, with a very different style of directing, and had a lot more freshmen and sophomores in the cast than usual. There were a lot of new elements in Urinetown that made things different from past shows, but when we opened we still had a great performance.”

Additionally, an ASL interpreter was present throughout every performance, allowing the hearing-impaired to enjoy the verbal humor of the musical as well.

“We have a large hearing-impaired community here in Fremont,” said Ballin. “We should accommodate their needs, and the needs of any and all impaired audience members whenever possible. I hope to use ASL translators for at least one performance in all our shows, and expand disabled access to our productions in the future.  Not only does it increase our prospective audience, but it’s just the right thing to do.”

Urinetown’s success resulted from months of hard work from actors, advisors, and backstage crew members, and Irvington’s theater department will continue to grow and improve.

“Mainly, we need to bring more people into our program and into the theater itself: that means greater outreach and more publicity,” Ballin explained. “This is a continual struggle for all theaters, and we have a lot of competition out there for the attention of potential students, cast members and audience members.  But, we couldn’t ask for a better staff and support group here at Irvington. Now that I have a year of productions under my belt, I hope to have things running even more smoothly next year and in the future.”