STARTING TONIGHT: James Clemens Theatre to present ‘Urinetown – The Musical’

MADISON – For the spring musical, James Clemens Theatre will present a hilarious study in satire, “Urinetown – The Musical.”

After seeing “Urinetown” on Broadway in 2002, teacher Amy Patel performed in Huntsville’s 2009 production. “Last year, Huntsville High School did a one-act version of ‘Urinetown.’ My students went crazy over it,” Patel said. “I knew this was the perfect year (for) the show.”

Among the show’s qualities are its comedic script; a good blend of male/female roles; ambitious music; and a challenge to both actors and technicians.

The premise of “Urinetown – The Musical” originated when the composer visited Paris and was surprised at the number of pay-for bathrooms. “The composer imagines ‘Urinetown,’ a town where people are forced to use public pay toilets. Corrupt lawmakers and greedy corporations take advantage of regular people who simply want to use the bathroom,” Patel said.

“The satire makes fun of politicians, government, musical theater . . . even its own title,” she said. The main character Bobby Strong falls in love with Hope Cladwell. Bobby is unaware her father is president of Urine Good Company, the water utility. “Already you can tell it’s a little ridiculous.”

Urinetown’s ensemble-based cast includes Joey Crider (Officer Lockstock); Michaela Raye Robinson (Little Sally); Carly Parker (Ms. Pennywise); Adam McDougal (Bobby Strong); Grace Hur (Hope Cladwell); and Alex McDaniel (Caldwell B. Cladwell).

Along with Patel as Artistic Director, the staff includes Harris Gessner, Music Director; Newt Johnson, Assistant Music Director; Clint Merritt, Technical Director; Autumn Tolbert, Stage Manager/Scenic Designer/Lead Artist; and Caleb Dalton, Assistant Stage Manager.

Elizabeth Swaine is Student Director, with Assistant Student Directors Matthew Chastain, Adam McDougal and Grace Hur; Emmy Harrison and Berkeley Preer, Student Choreographers; and Spencer Black, Student Technical Director.

In the show’s music, “Run, Freedom, Run” is an upbeat anthem with gospel vibes as Bobby rallies people in freedom fighting. “A Privilege to Pee” allows Penny Pennywise to defend her public amenity, frequented by poor people in town.

James Clemens Theatre thanks its sponsors, including UAHuntsville, Joe the Pro, State Sen. Tom Butler and U.S. Congressman Dale Strong. “Musicals are very expensive productions. Without sponsors and ads sales, we would not have the funds to pay for royalties, musicians, meals at rehearsals, lighting, sound, costumes — all the things that take a show from good to great . . . from great to fantastic,” Patel said.

“It’s funny when people scrunch up their noses when they hear the show’s title, but . . . it has to have a ridiculous title,” Patel said. “There’s really nothing inappropriate about it — no foul language, no inappropriate subject matter, except ‘potty’ talk.”

Following tradition, students are adopting an outreach project with an organization promoting environmental sustainability. Set designers Carmen Cruz and Autumn Tolbert designed a set built of trash, including grocery sacks, paper towel tubes and boxes that people normally would discard.

Showtimes for “Urinetown” are April 6 and 7 at 7 p.m.; April 8 at 2 and 7 p.m.; April 13 and 14 at 7 p.m.; and April 15 at 2 and 7 p.m. in James Clemens Auditorium. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, military and senior citizens.

In addition, Madison’s middle and high schools can attend a school show on April 12 at 9 a.m. Teachers can email JamesClemensTheatre@gmail.com for reservations for a class.

For more information, visit Facebook/James Clemens Theatre and Instagram.

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