For one weekend only, Musicality’s production of the dystopian Urinetown: The Musical is live at the glamourous Nottingham Arts Theatre. This production is sure to raise a few hairs on the back of your neck, but is it Musicality’s powerhouse performance, or just the nippy theatre interior bringing audiences out in a shiver? Big-coat-owner Tim Ovenden wagers his thoughts.
Despite a frankly off-putting title, Urinetown: The Musical rarely stains its audience with toilet humour (for better or worse). No, on (toilet) paper, it sticks to the tried and tested formula of pitting rebellious paupers against seedy, greedy one-percenters, with a class-defying romance at its heart. Remove those yellow-tinted glasses and you’ll see that this ain’t your Grandpappy’s musical: this one’s meta.
From the get go, Ewan Waddell’s dual role of narrator stroke policeman takes the ?? out of musicals. I was worried his commentary was going to be underutilised, only bookending each act, but Urinetown knows what it is and thrives on that knowledge. We seamlessly slip in and out of self-referential narration which drolly remarks on the production’s unmarketable title, lack of worldbuilding, and more. Urinetown: The Musical relies on the presence and wit of this performance, and thankfully Ewan appears to relish that responsibility.
The self-aware nature and pantomime-esque moments of the musical lend well to a student production
The self-aware nature and pantomime-esque moments of the musical lend well to a student production, and the ironic set–designs help to sell the metanarrative. I’m a simple man when it comes to musical theatre; a few good jokes and some catchy tunes are all I ask for. It’s fair to say I left a happy man, with a skip in my step.
The constant energy and wonderment Alice Humphrys brings to the character of Hope is awe-inspiring, considering the production’s whopping two-and-a-half-hour length. Special mentions go to Roxane [Roxane] La Toumelin’s humorously grouchy ‘Ma’ (Mother to our quasi-protagonist ‘Bobby Strong’) and Adriana Dvorakova’s chaotically energetic Officer Barrel (every dastardly copper needs an equally sleazy sidekick). Shout out to Will Cartlidge for his distracting resemblance to the Norwegian actor Henrik Holm, a comparison that surely no one has ever made.
If you’re in town, go see Urinetown
Urinetown features countless other honourable-mention-worthy performances, but regrettably, I don’t have the time or the word count to include them. If you had a hand in the making of this production, at any level, you should be proud.
If you’re in town, go see Urinetown.
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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