Monday October 16th 2017

“Urinetown-The Musical”

I would imagine any director/choreographer would chomp at the bit to do a zany, camp show like “Urinetown-The Musical”. Kevin Bellie, artistic Director at Circle Theatre in Oak Park is the perfect match for this wonderful light spoof of Industry, filled with greed, graft, love and revolution and a warm love story between people of different worlds. With a very strange, sort of “punk” book by Greg Kotis and music by Mark Hollmann ( who also did the lyrics with Kotis), we get to visit a town where due to a 20 year drought, water is at a premium and so the law has banned the use of personal/private bathrooms. People must go t public bathrooms where they pay a fee to use the facilities. It becomes a supply and demand situation as it is against the law to urinate anywhere else and so they keep increasing the use tax. The owners of the sewer system and the politicians just keep making money while the townspeople stand in line with their legs together.

The love story comes in when the owner of the sewer company Caldwell B. Cadwell’s ( Kirk Swenk is a sheer delight in handling this over the top role- “all camp- all the time”) daughter Hope ( the sriking Laura Savage, who has a powerful voice and is a name you will be seeing more of in the years to come. Abounding talent) falls in love with Bobby Strong ( Creg Sclavi, a newcomer to our area who truly ha sthis role down to perfection) one of the “locals” who is against the government controling the use of bathrooms. What takes place is a rebellion of the people against the owerful indurtialists and government emloyees and although there is a point to the story ( what is called a plot), who cares? This is two plus hours of great fun in a small, intimate theater where we get to watch a talented ensemble have as much fun as we are having at a very affordable price.

 But, this truly is an ensemble show as it cannot survive without a powerful and energetic cast of singers and dancers ( who can act) and bellie has found a cats that works:  Bobby Arnold, Jennifer Bludgen,Carolyn Brady Riley ,Kristen Calvin, Todd Duty,Chase McCurdy,Will Nifong,Shawn Quinlan,,Alex Ring, The always reliable Patti Roeder, Jake Szczepaniak who is dynamic but does a bit to much “crotch stuff” ( was funny twice, but after awhile it looked as if he really needed to go to the bathroom, but didn’t have the dime) and Matthew Wilson Miles- great job!

The set by Bob Knuth ( who also handles the photography) uses the stage nicely. This stage, while larger than the old one down the street, is wider and very close to the audience. The musicians ( under the direction of Peter J. Storms) are behind the set and while not in view, are heard everywhere in the theater. The only problem is that there are not enough body mikes for the entire cast and when scenes are played up higher , closer to the musicians, some of the lyrics get drowned out. I am sure it will take a few more shows to figure out the best way to handle this situation, but meanwhile, perhaps a few mikes hung over this platform might help to project the sound so that this wonderful talent doesn’t get wasted. Jesus Perez, who worked on designing and building the costumes did a fantastick job, one of Marriott or Drury Lane quality and I am sure with a far lower budget. Congratulations on not holding back.

This is a “must see” experience for musical theater lovers ( although not suggested for little ones) and with the exception of the sound situation, one that I strongly suggest you make part of YOUR fall theater scene. Circle Theatre is located at  1010 Madison Street in Oak Park ( just East of Harlem Avenue) and there is plenty of street parking in the area ( FREE). You can also get there by public transportation.

“Urinetown-The Musical” will continue through October 23rd with performances as follows:

Fridays  and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

Tickets are a mere $22 on Fridays and $26 on Saturday and Sunday ( seniors and students $24) to reserve yours, and I suggest you do right away, call 1-708-660-9540 or vist www.circle-theatre.org

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