Theater debuts musical, “Urinetown”

On April 13, the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) Theater Department unveiled the musical “Urinetown,” its final production of the season. Directed by Jerrold Scott and Brad Wyner, “Urinetown is set in a future where, due to a water shortage, Urine Good Company owns all the towns’ toilets, forcing citizens to navigate the challenges of a truly public utility.

Professor of the Department of Theater and production designer Jill Davis considers “Urinetown” to be one of her favorite shows among the 20 plus shows she has participated in since she came to CWRU.

“The design concept is very cohesive for ‘Urinetown,’ and I really like the futuristic and dystopian concept,” Davis said.

For four to six months, Davis worked on the “Urinetown” stage design.

“We picked the script last May and started working on [it] when the show ‘Uncle Vanya’ was in progress,” said Davis. “The scene design was mostly ready when actors started rehearsals.”

The play used color to strike a contrast between characters’ different socioeconomic classes and to advance the story.

“The painting on the door looked so real with the usage of brown paint to mimic the metal corrosion [in the bad parts of town],” said second-year student Eric Zhang.

According to Davis, she has a clear scenic plan in her head when she paints and manages the stage design. She spent just eight hours painting and making adjustments to the set.

“[The design process was] relatively fast, and I am glad to see the effect is decent,” Davis said.

Davis considered the usage of light as bold, but appropriate for the musical.

“I always feel less inclined to use green colors because it can be awkward,” Davis said,  “but in ‘Urinetown,’ the usage of green is just to the point. I am impressed by that.”

Along with the other performers, fourth-year student Bessie Bulman, who plays Hope in “Urinetown,” impressed Davis.   

“I love Bessie’s voice,” Davis said. “There is no formal musical program in the [Department of Theater], and I am very impressed by how [well] those actors can sing and act.”

According to Davis, “Urinetown” featured several choreographed dance numbers that the crew learned over several days.

“There are four or five scenes [that] involve dancing and singing simultaneously, and the actors did well in [all of] those,” Davis said.

Eldred Theater will host three more productions of “Urinetown” on April 20 and April 21 at 7:30 p.m., and on April 22 at 3:00 p.m.  Tickets can be purchased on CWRU Theatre website or at the door. Tickets will cost $5 with a CWRU ID, $7 for faculty and staff and $10 for general admission.