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Theater Review: “Urinetown: The Musical."

“Urinetown” plays Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm.
Photo credit:
OB Playhouse & Theatre Company

It’s greed and corruption vs. the power of the people and basic human needs in the hilarious “Urinetown: The Musical,” playing through March 12 at the OB Playhouse in Ocean Beach. Jennie Gray Connard directs and choreographs.

A 20-year drought that has inspired laws against private bathrooms, forcing citizens to pee at public toilets owned by those capitalist pigs at Urine Good Company, which of course sets the price.

Using a bush or tree is illegal and punishable by removal to Urinetown, the greatly feared unseen hell from which no one returns.

The owner of UGC is Caldwell B. Cladwell (Mark Barry), heartless and greedy. Cladwell’s beautiful daughter Hope (Evelyn Sparks) has just returned from the World’s Most Expensive University to work for her father.

The keeper of the public bathroom key is that dragon Penelope Pennywise (Meredith Russo, a hoot with an industrial-strength voice), who makes no exceptions.

Officer Lockstock  (whose partner is – what else? – Barrel) narrates the story, being careful not to put in “Too Much Exposition.” He avoids exposition with dialogue, and his conversational partner is often Little Sally (Daryl Daley), a precocious and intelligent (though poor) girl.

When Old Man Strong (Christopher T. Miller) can’t come up with the dough and disgraces himself, he is carted off to Urinetown because “it’s an exiling offense.” 

At this point Strong’s son Bobby (Joey Kirkpatrick, with a broodingly serious, even haunted look) spearheads a rebellion among the poor.

Will the people win? You’ll have to see for yourself, and I recommend it highly.

The show, with music and lyrics by Mark Hollmann and book and lyrics by Greg Kotis, is a total stitch, making fun of almost everything musical or musical comedy.

You’ll hear snatches reminiscent of “Les Miserables” and see dances that will remind you of “West Side Story,” hear gospel music-like snatches and (if you’re old enough) recognize the Fred Waring choral sound.

The cast is excellent, though all the voices don’t carry over the fine eight-piece band. Ingersoll and Russo are both fine actors and vocal standouts.

Kirkpatrick’s Bobby has a big, fine tenor voice, but I wondered why he looked haunted the whole time. 

Sparks is excellent as Cladwell’s daughter Hope. She has a lovely voice as well, though it had some trouble cutting through the band.

There’s fine work also from Daryl Daley as Little Sally, Daniel Castro as Cladwell toady Mr. McQueen, Brian P. Evans as greasy Senator Fipp and Todd Sutton as Officer Barrel.

“Urinetown: The Musical” has something funny to say about just about every musical comedy trope you can name. Go see it and count ‘em.

The details

“Urinetown” plays through March 12, 2017 at the OB Playhouse & Theatre Company, 4944 Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach.

Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm

Tickets: (619) 795-9305 or obtheatrecompany.com