In the not-too-distant future, drought has affected everyday life so much that private restrooms have been privatized, forcing people to pay to use “public amenities”. After the latest fee hike passes through the legislature, custodian Bobby Strong (Alex Crooks), spurred on by the words of one Hope Cladwell (Ella Swank), leads a rebellion amongst the city’s poor against the toilet franchising Urine Good Company, led by Hope’s father, Caldwell (yours truly!), and his cadre of cops and corrupt bureaucrats.
Trevor Larsen, who plays one of the show’s narrators, Officer Lockstock, finds that the adjustment from the traditional proscenium theatres of his high school days to the Weber Fine Arts Building’s black box theater has given him the room to make newer and more deliberate character choices.
“[Being surrounded by the audience] adds a depth to Locksotck’s character,” Larsen said. “Instead of just looking in one direction and making eye contact with the whole audience, I have to keep my head on a swivel. I can go like ‘Oh, that person with the glasses, they look like someone I can pick on, let’s go talk to them’ and things like that.”
In a show that is top-to-bottom filled with underclassmen, assistant stage manager Emilie Rothanzl notes that it isn’t just the talent on stage that brought this show to life, but also the leadership.
“We’ve had some really great role models of people who have done shows they’re like the junior and senior classes,” Rothanzl said. ” We’ve had them as our dance captains as people offering advice to the cast, getting to know them in the greenroom and making those connections and having those proactive conversations before it has to get brought up in rehearsal. Having some of the older cast members come in and already have that level of respect, already have that professionalism, kind of leads by example and shows the younger people like oh, this is serious.”
Overcoming the learning curves of adjusting to a new theatre, absorbing new and relatively complex music, and keeping it light enough for everyone to enjoy without getting too heady is a difficult balance, but “Urinetown” is just the show that does all of that. With an excellent ensemble cast and wonderful technical work being done by all involved (if I mentioned all the names we’d be here all day), all I’ll tell you is that you’d be missing out on another excellent show in Omaha’s burgeoning arts scene. Why should you see this? I’ll let the show’s director, D. Scott Glasser, tell you:
“Being able to laugh at a cruel time, at human foibles, from how we relate to what we face – to how we portray them in musicals, to live and work to make a better world though you may never see it happen. Despite our complex reactions, we create theatre that reflects our world dynamically, and, sometimes, enables us to laugh.”
Urinetown’s premiere on November 17th sold out handily. All UNO students get in for free through this link. If you missed the first weekend (November 16 – 19), the show will run its second weekend after Thanksgiving, November 30 – December 3.