Baldwinsville Theatre Guild’s new musical “Urinetown” answers nature’s call with splashy spectacle, porcelain-punishing performances and twinkling musicianship. But seriously, folks, this satirical social soiree soars on every level.
Co-directed by Deb Taylor and Heather Jensen and produced by Jay Burris and Kim Maria Jakway, “Urinetown” lampoons the legal system, capitalism and corporate incompetence in the name of the universal human need to void bladders. Its story is simple: a two-decade-long drought has led the powers-that-be to regulate water consumption by outlawing the use of private toilets. The result is nothing short of revolution.
BTG’s talented cast of 24 is led by local acting whiz Josh Taylor as Bobby Strong who leads the uprise after his desperate dad, portrayed by Jon Barden, is arrested and punished for draining his dragon in public. Strong’s nemesis is Caldwell B. Cladwell, the evil CEO of the Urine Good Co., ably played by Daddy Warbucks look-a-like Jon Wright. Complications ensue when Cladwell’s zaftig daughter, Hope, played by Jennifer Pearson, wins Strong’s affections with the song “Follow Your Heart.”
While the leads keep things flowing smoothly, the entire cast of 24 creates the biggest splashes with invigorating dance routines carefully choreographed by Stephfond Brunson, who doubles as Cladwell’s yes-man. A pithy pit band of six led by pianist Dan Williams assiduously accompany the singers who cavort across a cleverly changeable set wearing costumes abounding in stripes and checks. The rabble’s brown and burgundy threads clash well with the bureaucrats’ affinity for loud ties and neon suits.
Taylor and Pearson both boast expressive singing voices as they ably blend hearty humor with pissy pathos, but the supporting cast also deserves number-one consideration. Bill Ali as Officer Lockstock serves as a one-man Greek chorus commenting on the play’s action. Not only does he ably set the scenes, he also sings like a man possessed on the opening number, “Urinetown” and “Cop Song.” Similarly, Jodie Baum as UGC functionary Penelope Pennywise belts out “It’s a Privilege to Pee.”
Act 1 climaxes with the entire company vocalizing different lyrics simultaneously, and “Urinetown” authors Greg Kotis and Mark Hollman wisely reprise that device late in Act 2 when Baum, Ali and Gregg Bilyeau skillfully overlap their voices with Taylor and Pearson on “Why Did I Listen to that Man?”
Those numbers ring out impressively, but the musical’s showstopper is the gospel-flavored “Run, Freedom, Run” featuring Taylor and the rebellious ensemble.
“Urinetown” shines as one of the best shows in BTG’s recent history. In case you need further encouragement to get your ticket, consider the cute-as-a-button Kaleigh Pfohl – who played Adelaide in BTG’s 2006 production of “Guys and Dolls.” In “Urinetown,” Pfohl will win your heart as Little Sally, an easily confused, teddy-bear-hugging ragamuffin.
Other ensemble standouts include the rubber-faced Ceara Windhausen as Billy Girl Bill, Donnie Williams as the knife-wielding Hot Blades Harry, red-headed Korrie Strodel as Little Becky Two Shoes, and beautiful brunette Holly Ross as Julie Cassidy, the lady who just can’t hold it any longer.
The Tony Award-winning “Urinetown: The Musical” continues at the First Presbyterian Education Center, 64 Oswego St., at 8 p.m. Friday, March 18, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 19, at 3 p.m. on March 20, and at 7:30 p.m. March 25 and 26. Tickets cost $20, $17 for students, and $17 for seniors at the March 20 matinee only; 877-4183; baldwinsvilletheatreguild.org.