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Review - Urinetown: A double A plus

By Liv Wilson


Urinetown

Music by Mark Hollman

Lyrics by Mark Hollman & Greg Kotis

Book by Greg Kotis

Direction by Hayley Gervais

Musical direction by Benjamin Richards

Choreography by Jaime O’Donoghue

Phoenix Ensemble



In the not-so-distant future, a terrible water shortage and 20-year drought has led to a government ban on private toilets and a proliferation of paid public toilets, owned and operated by a single megalomaniac company: the Urine Good Company. If the poor don’t obey the strict laws prohibiting free urination, they’ll be sent to the dreaded and mysterious “Urinetown.” After too long under the heel of the malevolent Caldwell B. Cladwell, the poor stage a revolt, led by a brave young hero, fighting tooth and nail for the freedom to pee “wherever you like, whenever you like, for as long as you like, and with whomever you like.” A brilliant satire modelled off the plays of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, Urinetown is a wickedly funny, fast-paced, and surprisingly intelligent comedic romp.

Phoenix Ensemble has done it again! A true example of the 5-star musical theatre experience you get season after season with the team at Phoenix Ensemble.

This was a stellar cast of seasoned performers each with sensational acting, vocal, comedic and dancing chops- a very rare sight!

The show had a particular synergy that I haven’t seen quite so strongly at Phoenix before and I can’t help but assume that Hayley Gervais had something to do with that. Her direction was on point and her quirky introduction of background character development and set-changes assisted in the storytelling beautifully. Gervais has a history in the theatre but I hope she continues to hone her directing skills as she has a very special gift to offer in that space.

Lachlan Clark as Officer Lockstock has the energy, charisma and satirical comedic touch that made every line as hilarious as you’d expect for a show like Urinetown. His attention to detail with the larger than life characterisation earned uproarious laughter from the audience.

Little Sally, played by Abby Page, was as cute as she was hilarious. I was in tears with her delivery and comedic abilities. After seeing Page in Wizard of Oz earlier in the year I was in awe of her versatility in the theatre. Tell Her I Love Her was a great showcase of her crystal clear and powerful vocals. I really commend Page for her performance in Urinetown, it was flawless.

Caleb Holman was a standout performer; I was particularly impressed with his humorous tone that was different from the other characters in the show. He made the character his own and kept the classic elements of the cringey and corrupt character. The dynamic between Holman and his stage-daughter, Lauren Clark was done nicely. Caleb’s comedic abilities were put to great use and I personally loved the use of his upper class British accent- it was perfect.

Clarke as Hope Cladwell was beautiful and cast very well. I loved her ability to get her ‘airy’ character’s thoughts and opinions across without seeming disingenuous. Her sweet voice was a lovely compliment to some of the louder characters. I was blown away by her soprano voice and was equally impressed with the bursts of belting we got to hear during her duet with her on-stage lover, Bobby Strong.

Zoe Costtello, as Miss Pennywise, delivered massive vocals and her fierce portrayal was top-notch. Her physicality and animated expressions were noteworthy, adding an edge to her character's rage.

Harley Roy, was a smash hit as Officer Barrell. They were on point with their acting, dancing and vocals throughout the show. I couldn’t believe this was the same actor that I saw perform as Patrick Star in Spongebob the Musical. Roy transformed into the sleazy, aggressive and sly policeman in the most triumphant way. I’m very impressed with their vocal control considering their leading role in most of the dance numbers.

Choreographer Jamie O’Donoghue outdid herself in this production, with her expertise shining through brightly in every number. The subtle references to Beyonce, Michael Jackson, Les Miserables, and Bob Fosse were highlights, and the cast's level of dance talent exceeded expectations.

Isaac Tibbs, as Bobby Strong, delivered his best performance to date. His vocal strength and power were impressive, especially since he led most of the large ensemble numbers. His unique slapstick style and perfect execution of the witty script were highlights of the show.

The entire ensemble delivered an A++ performance that had the audience fully engaged from start to finish. I strongly urge you to catch this show before it sells out - it's definitely worth the journey to Beenleigh. Don't miss the opportunity to witness such a remarkable production by a talented group of performers.

Tickets can be purchased now and start from $35. Season runs until May 27th https://phoenixensemble.com.au/shows/urinetown/




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