From Wednesday, February 17th through Sunday, February 21st, the cast and crew of Urinetown: the Musical poured energy, humor, and passion into this year’s Arts performance. Though the students and faculty and staff members have been building, learning, singing, choreographing, restructuring, relearning, rehearsing, and imagining together for many weeks, the show had been missing one ingredient: a full house.
The cast and crew finally greeted enthusiastic and impressed audiences. The show was packed with perfect comedic pauses, incredibly intensive vocal work, fun and energized dance numbers, beautiful costumes, and important lighting and sound effects that transformed songs, moods, and, as it so happens, deaths.
“Even though this play was shorter than last year’s ‘Into the Woods,’” notes Jenny Foreman, Director, Choreographer, and Arts Chair, “it was remarkably more difficult in that there were so many ensemble numbers, so much harmonizing, and several scenes with nearly the entire cast onstage all at once. There were only rare moments that involved only one or two people on stage. We had to work a lot on galvanizing the group energy and coordinating the acting, singing and dancing all at once.”
Indeed, the stage was packed. Often, while two cast members spoke or sang, other cast members were frozen in tableaux; other times, the entire cast was taking part in a lights-flashing-smile-inducing dance number. Though we as an audience saw the dazzling final product: a hilarious exchange between Officer Lockstock and Little Sal, a well-synced dance number like the labor-intensive “Snuff that Girl,” a sweet harmony between Hope and Bobby Strong, we did not see the tremendous highlights of the process.
Patrick Marr, Musical Director, and Foreman agree that one of their favorite moments in the process was when Destiny “found” her voice. “It came booming out in rehearsal one day, and I think it surprised her the most!” says Foreman. Marr says that once she “opened up,” she found her powerful sound.
For Sophie Luxmoore, Stage Manager, some of the “process” highlights were about the ingenuity and creativity of the crew. Take for in- stance, as she describes, “the challenges of building signs with only tape and cardboard.” The magic that comes with needing to invent, play, imagine, translate a moment rang through every scene, every line, every song. “I [...] loved coming into the FAB and hearing Cam and Sydney running lines together, seeing others practicing choreography as a group on their own, engaging in conversation with Maja about character arc, and discussing Brechtian philosophy with Ava and Will,” remarks Foreman.
As the actors engaged with their characters, as the crew invented and reinvented the pieces of the set, their playfulness helped them discover the decisions that would ultimately bring success to the production.
“Each member of the cast felt the freedom to bring their own imaginations to the play,” says Foreman, “and each added their own particular gestures, reactions and interactions into the show that I never could have custom-designed for them. e actors owned the show.” Though the last curtain has fallen, the impact of the play persists. After each performance, the cast and crew solicited donations from the audience as a fundraiser for Flint, Michigan, what cast member Will Arment describes as “a modern day Urinetown.” Together, the cast and crew raised $650 for a charity that will help support Flint’s people.