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Urinetown entertains with a message

By Joshua Vail
On November 12, 2010

It's a privilege to pee.

The Ottawa University theater department is putting on Urinetown: The Musical, a musical comedy with a message about sustainability.

The set was well put-together, and the story was well-plotted but easy to follow.

During a widespread water shortage, all water use becomes a privilege. Specific to the musical's plot is the fact that using the bathroom costs money, and going anywhere else is illegal.

Young Bobby Strong, played by Muncel Jones, decides to change that when his father is arrested for urinating against the wall and taken away to "Urinetown" the place of exile which is punishment for those who break the law.

Jones' and all of the other performances were strong. My personal favorite is Charlie McMichael as Officer Lockstock, who acts as both a character in the story and the narrator. He's hilarious in both roles, and played well against his foil in the narrating segments, Little Sally, played by Kaitlyn Johnson.

Lockstock's narration provides much of the show's humor. They also played the metaphor of the show, making it obvious in a way that makes the audience laugh instead while carrying the play's message clearly and leaving no room for interpretation. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it was very entertaining.

Lauren Frazier plays Miss Pennywise, the proprietor of the local toilet or "amenity" where Bobby's revolution starts. Her singing was very strong and her acting was fun to watch.

Dennis Tyner plays Caldwell B. Cladwell, the businessman that runs the paid toilet system. He's very excited about being a greedy villain. His character is a large ham.

Joella Wolnik plays Cladwell's daughter, Hope, a wide-eyed idealist. Her lines were delivered perfectly and her performance was one of the best.

There were a lot of laughs, but at the same time the message comes through strong enough that you can't help but think. As Officer Lockstock warns, this is not a happy musical, but it is entertaining and definitely worth watching tonight or Saturday.

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