Fairmount Performing Arts Conservatory’s “Urinetown” a Witty Musical Filled with Gallows Humor

Fairmount Performing Arts Conservatory’s “Urinetown” a Witty Musical Filled with Gallows Humor
By Marjorie Preston
August 15, 2012

Fairmount Performing Arts Conservatory’s (FPAC’s) current musical is “Urinetown,” with book and lyrics by Greg Kotis and music and lyrics by Mark Hollmann. The spectacle features a compelling plot, witty writing, a variety of song styles and a committed cast with several talented standouts.

Bobby Strong (Adam Hass-Hill) works for a private company running public urinals, Urine Good Company. He’s a clerk in the only local pay-to-pee bathroom facility on the wrong side of the tracks. Bobby’s conflicted about his work, which requires that he turn away those who can’t afford to pay the fee. His boss, the strong-handed and grumpy Penelope Pennywise (Christina Ciofani), scolds him and maintains order and allegiance to the company. One morning, Bobby happens to meet bright-eyed, naive Hope Cladwell (Leah Saltzer), daughter of smarmy Caldwell B. Cladwell (Austin Riley), the owner of Urine Good Company, and the two follow their hearts and start an uprising against the entire system.

Hass-Hill puts his best foot forward leading a revolt in “Look at the Sky,” and is a strong actor, though seems to have moments of uncertainty about melody throughout the show. Saltzer’s voice is showcased in the lilting melody of “Follow Your Heart.” Ciofani shines in “Privilege to Pee” with great control of her capable voice.

Police officers Officer Lockstock (Jerry Shepherd) and Officer Barrel (Neil Kelly) are fun to watch throughout. Shepherd busts out a mean rap in “Cop Song” and Kelly has great physicality and ad libs. Little Sally (Joelle Rosenthal) is wise beyond her years and holds down her part with aplomb. Silly callbacks involving character actors are consistently amusing.

“Urinetown” is chock full of a variety of catchy styles of music. The second act alone has a klezmer-influenced number in “What is Urinetown,” a 20s-feel “Snuff That Girl” and a spiritual, “Run, Freedom, Run,” complete with a capella choir section.

Director Bob Russell has cast well and there are many talented performers among the thirty-odd in the cast. Scenic and Lighting Designer Scott C. Chapman has created an appropriately bleak set in wood and metal that reminds one of an abandoned mine or a gallows. Choreographer Bebe Weinberg Katz brought ambitious, solid dance work to the stage. Music Director John Krol is part of the orchestra of five, which, obscured from the actors, experienced some moments where the singers and musicians were out of sync or hard to hear in the space. Overall, “Urinetown” is a fun, smart musical with a timely, dark plot concerning the place of freedom in an age of overpopulation.

Fairmount Performing Arts Conservatory’s “Urinetown” will be at the Mayfield Village Civic Center, 6622 Wilson Mills Road, Mayfield Village, through August 19. Performances are Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, August 19 at 2 p.m. For tickets, call (440) 338-3171 or visit http://fairmountcenter.tix.com.

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