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Friday, January 17, 2014

'Urinetown' is a blast at Dominion Stage

Urinetown's Ensemble at Dominion Stage/photo by Jessica Sperlongano

It may not be a "happy musical" but it's a daffy musical, a frolicking musical, one which entertains, and whizzes by with precise timing.

It's a comedy tonight!

Chris Christie and the bridge debacle, water problems in West Virginia and now other states, the French president and his three amours, and the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI are just some of the current news stories which come to mind. 

Where there are politicians, can greed, lies, money, and deception lie far behind?  And provide plentiful content to satirize on stage? 

Welcome, scandals!

And what's love got to do with it? Or, the poor? Pity.

"Darling," says Senator Cladwell exquisitely played by Michael Bagwell, to his daughter, Hope (Melissa Berkowitz): "What do you mean by 'love'?" 

If you are like me, you have been intrigued by the title, Urinetown, for a while, but don't let it fool you. It is not all "bathroom humor," as the program states. Far less than I imagined, and children, one as young as six or so, were present at the performance I attended, and laughed as much as the rest of us who love dancing (choreographed by Rikki Howie and Patrick M. Doneghy, also the director) and songs and whimsy and fun and lots of action and n'er a dull moment for your mind to wander. 

I had many "favs" among the large cast of characters (large casts are often more enthralling, don't you think?): Little Sally (Dana Robinson) and Miss Pennywise (Katherine Lipovsky) both exaggerating in exactly the right amounts; certainly, the narrator played by Christopher Guy Thorn, who as Officer Lockstock begins and ends the show with special  messages to the audience in his cop uniform with perfect cop sunglasses and assiduous mannerisms, assisted by the wild and wide-eyed Officer Barrel (Steve Custer).

Another who drew lots of laughs whenever he pranced (he did) on stage was Ian A. Coleman, McQueen, a dashing assistant, among one of his roles.  Several actors shouldered multiple parts.  More applause.

For a non-profit, the acting continues to embellish Washington's reputation as a growing theatre hub. And not a
big fan of musicals, I nonetheless found Urinetown engrossing and amusing.

The singing was fine, and not only will you hear gospel a cappella, but rock and roll trickles in and whiffs from Broadway like Lez Miz, West Side Story (dig that finger popping scene!) and was it my imagination? The Wizard of Oz?

Kevin Diana led a six-piece orchestra to enrich the night's presentation.

My only complaint is the mustache and wig for Old Man Strong (Matt Baughman) are a trifle overdone.  Costumes, lighting, and sets are well designed, and set changes occur in shadowy, silhouetted spaces without noisy accompaniment.

The program says the idea of this farce came from writer Greg Kotis's actual experience in Europe in the late 1990s when he ran out of money which he needed for a public urinal, circumstances which begged him to inquire of others:  "Spare any change?" 

The auditorium at the Gunston seats 426, and there is no reserved seating nor a bad spot in the house, so you have nothing to worry about. If you take children, proximity to the stage is all important, and their pupils may enlarge to match Officer Barrel's.

The remaining cast members: Michael Bigley, Teresa Danskey, Willie Garner, Ian Hoch, Kyle Keene, Lauren Kuhn, Matt Liptak, James Maxted, Larissa Norris, Joelle Thomas, Leslie Walbert, and Erica Wisniewski. The show is produced by Shawn g. Byers and Richard Isaacs. Christine Farrell is the stage manager.

Plot?  You need plot?  Just go, darling, and enjoy.  There is too much to write.  This only won three Tonys?  It must have been a competitive year.

"Yes, WEE can!"

Urinetown is your town is our town is "you are in town?"

What: Dominion Stage's Urinetown: The Musical

When: 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday through January 25, 2014

Where:  Gunston Theater One, 2700 South Lang Street, Arlington, VA 22206

How much: $20

For more information: 571-377-4697

Language:  G (Oh, there are a couple of "damns.")
1-800-PetMeds Private Label

1 comment:

Joel Markowitz said...

Check all the other reviews of Urinetown and other local reviews of other shows playing in the DCMetro area in 'Other Reviews' on DCMetroTheaterArts.