Review: Page to Stage presents ‘Urinetown’

Page to Stage's production of Urinetown went to the stage at the Student Union Theater on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. (Jackson Haigis/The Daily Campus)

Theater troupe Page to Stage overcame a minimal budget and a short preparation schedule to deliver a rousing, hilarious rendition of “Urinetown” the musical to a Student Union Theater crowd Sunday afternoon.

“Urinetown” takes place in a post-apocalyptic cityscape where the people are not “free to pee.” The characters wait in long lines for a chance to pay an exorbitant fee to use of the few available “Public Amenities.” The songs have titles like “It’s a Privilege to Pee” and “I See a River.”

Page to Stage demonstrated an excellent sense of the musical’s ridiculousness, while adding in a wide range of emotions through song, dance and character acting. The music itself was engaging and quirky in an offbeat kind of way, to the extent that you might occasionally forget you’re watching a show about urination.

The performance was simultaneously a sarcastic parody of the musical and a reverent celebration to the art form. Narrators Officer Lockstock (played by Dillon Johnson) and Little Sally (Lydia Bailey) broke in and out of the fourth wall. Bailey was deadpan yet earnest, Johnson just slightly skeevy and together they made fun of the show’s plot holes while brushing them off.

The show featured plenty of bladder pressure and urination themed choreography. A flashlight lightshow in the middle of Act One and the tarps thrown over their single set piece demonstrated their ability work with a minimal budget in an admirable way.

Katie Klein’s performance of female lead Hope Cladwell came on too strong and oversweet with an appropriately inappropriate aplomb. Klein carried a beautiful vibrato and a winning smile.

Brandon Arnold as Bobby Strong made for a relatable everyman and foil to much of the musical’s ridiculousness, and the male lead shined vocally throughout the beginning of Act Two.

Arnold and Klein’s romantic subplot came off as completely sincere while still being hilariously self-aware. The pair helped to illustrate the heart and passion of the entire cast’s performance.

“She has to love him,” Little Sally says. “He’s the hero of the story.”

Cole Petano was top-notch as villain Caldwell B. Cladwell. He played the classic business magnate: diva, type-A, jock, sociopath, Napoleon complex.

The ensemble also gave it their all. They moved both together and as individuals to show no shortage of character.

“Because they don’t get many opportunities to act outside Page to Stage and Dramatic Paws, all of their passion is here,” Page to Stage vice president Adam Pilarski said. “When we put on a show like this, the floodgates open.”

“Urinetown” is the kind of show in which the audience laughs erratically but wholeheartedly, so that you can see which of your friends crack up at Caldwell stepping up on a stool to be taller than his daughter whenever he hugs her. which at the oddball “Battleship Potemkin” overtones of Little Sally waving a red flag among the revolting urinaters, and which at the musical’s existentially depressing conclusion.

“It was very fun,” 5th semester history major Jason Zhang said. “Refreshing. Like a splash of cool refreshing water splashing on my face. Like a cool sip of refreshment from the refreshment stand.”

“Great musical,” 5th english major Shane Watterson said. “Second only to ‘Cats.’”


Christopher McDermott is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.mcdermott@uconn.edu.