March 26 2009 12:00 AM

Strong chorus, supporting actors carry satirical Urinetown

What would happen if members of the general public werent allowed to relieve their bladders whenever they wanted? They’d probably get pretty pissed off. Bad jokes aside, this pee business
is no laughing matter, even if it is the subject of a musical comedy, as in the case of “Urinetown,” which is now being staged by the Hold-Dimondale Community Players.

With music and lyrics by Mark Hollman and book and lyrics by Greg Kotis, “Urinetown” is a satire that pokes fun at capitalism, corporatism, mismanagement, politics and even other musicals, parodying successful shows, like “West Side Story,” “Evita,” “Les Miserables” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”

In a fictional town beset by a 20-year drought, privately owned urinals are gone and mega-corporation "Urine Good Company," the Starbucks of restrooms, controls all of the pay-per-pee urinals. The show packs plenty of intrigue, from murder, corruption and greed to public urination and an overthrow of the establishment to a love story and finale that doesn’t follow the typical musical theater comedy shtick.

Although the show has its leads, the real star is the hard-working chorus, which sounds full and fabulous with great diction; the ensemble numbers really carry the show.

A real show-stopping number is “Run, Freedom, Run,” lead by Bobby, played by Michael P. Zamora, who has the most trained-sounding voice in the cast. This number is a call-and-answer gospel-type song that is just plain fun.

Opposite Bobby is female love interest Hope, played unremarkably by Danielle Weller. While Weller is strikingly pretty, leggy and blond, her character arc travels merely inches, and her voice, while pretty, is tiny compared to Zamora’s. Maybe it’s her character that is infuriating, or maybe it’s Wellers lack of charisma, but the energy comes to a standstill when she’s leading the action.

Monty Beiber plays Caldwell B. Cladwell, president of the Urine Good Co., with a nice voice and charming, yet sinister persona.

Donna Green plays Cladwell’s former love interest, Penelope Pennywise, who also owns the most disgusting and downtrodden urinal in town. Green’s singing voice is highly developed, but her diction and volume are so poor she might as well flush her words down the drain.

Two stand-out supporting roles come from Ann Glenn, as Little Sally, and Edric Haleen, as the narrating Officer Lockstock. The two share many scenes and have wonderful chemistry and comic timing. While not fabulous singers, they are so in character that their lack of tone or projection does not even matter.

This show marks the directorial debut for Kelly Stuible, and the staging is sometimes awkward and lacking in discernable flow, and the choreography is downright terrible. However, the cast attacks staging with vigor and aplomb.

Underneath the comedy of this show lies a real and urgent message that should promote some lively post-show discussion. There are some laughs here, some memorable characters and a smorgasbord of theatrical references that will tickle the funny bone of any die-hard theater fans.


March 14 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday Holt-Dimondale Community Players Holt
Jr. High School, 1784 Aurelius Road, Holt $10/$8 (517) 694-3411 www.hdcptheater.com

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