‘Urinetown’ musical brings comedy to the stage

UW-Eau Claire’s Department of Music and Theatre Arts takes on capitalism with humor

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Madeline Fuerstenberg

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‘Urinetown’ musical brings comedy to the stage

‘Urinetown’ is about a town faced with having to pay to go to the bathroom.

‘Urinetown’ is about a town faced with having to pay to go to the bathroom.

Photo by SUBMITTED

‘Urinetown’ is about a town faced with having to pay to go to the bathroom.

Photo by SUBMITTED

Photo by SUBMITTED

‘Urinetown’ is about a town faced with having to pay to go to the bathroom.

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A dingy, desolate set is adjourned with run-down urban props and dynamic lighting. Rusty-looking pipes line the walls. A light veil of fog blankets the room. A buzzing crowd flows in steadily, filling empty seats and waiting eagerly for the show to begin. Welcome to Urinetown.

After nearly five weeks of preparation, UW-Eau Claire’s Department of Music and Theatre Arts premiered its production of “Urinetown: The Musical” last Thursday at the Riverside Theater in Haas Fine Arts Center.

This musical follows the story of Bobby Strong, a golden-hearted revolutionary who lives in a society where using the bathroom is no longer a right, but a privilege. In this satirical comedy about capitalism, the government and even other musicals, toilets are now owned and operated by the government in order to preserve water after a devastating drought. You can’t pee for free.

After losing his father to this ridiculous law, Bobby Strong, played by Brandon Roth, rallies his fellow peasants into a revolution, taking back the public amenities and — as is always the way in broadway musicals — falling in love with the female protagonist, Hope Cladwell, portrayed by Audra Boettge. Corporate corruption and greed are fought through the power of sacrifice, human rights and of course, music.

Throughout Bobby’s entire journey, the show’s outrageous narrator Officer Lockstock and his minature sidekick, Little Sally make ironic and sarcastic observations about the stereotypical broadway musical. Lockstock and Sally are brought to life by Ian Rucker and Dana Strothenke.

Rachel Balistrieri, a sophomore at UW-Eau Claire, said she loved the performance put on by the cast of “Urinetown.”

“It was so well put together,” she said.

Audience members like Balistrieri loved the energetic atmosphere, the hilarious dialogue, and the strong vocal performances.

“Everyone should come (to the show) and support the arts,” Balistrieri said.

Boettge, who portrayed Hope Cladwell, said she was thrilled with the final outcome of the production. “Urinetown” was her third show at the university.

“It came together so well,” said Boettge. “We worked super, super hard on it.”

Boettge said she particularly loved the show’s outrageous humor and high-energy dance numbers. In the few weeks it took for the cast to prepare their rendition of “Urinetown,” Boettge also felt she built some strong bonds with her castmates.

“Urinetown” was directed by Arthur Grothe, Eau Claire’s artistic director of theater. With about sixteen years of experience under his belt, Grothe said he was confident in the production’s final turnout.

“I thought the music and choreography came together very well,” Grothe said.

Grothe said more people should come see “Urinetown” because it has something to say. He said the show is not only funny, but it is also socially relevant.

“I think it is a satirical piece; it mocks itself and it mocks theatre,” he said.

“Urinetown” will be taking place at Riverside Theater at 7:30 p.m. on October 20 and 1:30 p.m. on October 22. Tickets are available for purchase for $10 at the Service Center in Davies Student Center or preceding each performance if tickets are available.

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