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First Musical in a Decade

April 28, 2009

Last November, for the first time in a decade, the flamboyant, full-voiced American musical returned to Lewis & Clark in the form of Urinetown, a 2002 Broadway hit. “The stars of collaboration between the theatre and music departments finally aligned themselves in such a way that a large-scale musical production became possible again,” says Stepan Simek, director of Urinetown and associate professor of theatre.

The story of Urinetown is set in a world where private bathrooms have been outlawed, and a group of destitute citizens stage an uprising against Urine Good Company, the corporation that has put a tax on public urinals, to reclaim their right to pee for free. “The sheer audacity of its title and absurdity of the central premise intrigued us,” says Simek, explaining the musical’s selection.

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Above: Front row, kneeling: Dylan Peden CAS ‘09 as Tiny Tom and Alyson Stake CAS ‘10 as Soupy Sue. Tied to chair: Emily Stevens CAS ‘09 as Hope Cladwell. Middle row: Erin Dees CAS ‘09 as Little Becky Two Shoes and Morgan Shaw-Fox CAS ‘09 as Hot Blades Harry. Back row: Warren Kluber CAS ‘11 as Billy Boy Bill, Jonah Geil-Neufeld CAS ‘11 as Robby the Stockfish, and Emilie Sanchez CAS ‘10 as Fancy Francine.

Producing the musical took more than six months of preparation and rehearsal. Emmy Award–winning scenic designer Curt Enderle took visual cues from contemporary photographs of New York City in his designs for the Fir Acres set. Cara Carr, a contributor to more than 100 productions in the area, designed the costumes, drawing inspiration from sources as diverse as Norman Rockwell and the Village People. Local choreographer Lisa Zandy staged the numerous energy-filled dances.

In addition to honing their singing and dancing skills, student actors enjoyed developing strong relationships with the cast and crew. “The show is hilarious and well written, with great song-and-dance numbers and a brilliant political-environmental satire embedded in the script,” says Dylan Peden CAS ‘10, who played the part of Tiny Tom and the cop. “But the best part was getting to know my fellow actors. I love the bond that forms when you spend so many hours together.”

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Above: Diana Fox CAS ‘12 as Cladwell’s secretary, Warren Kluber CAS ‘11 as Dr. Billieux, and Sylvia Walter-Caldera CAS ‘10 as Mrs. Millenium.

Photos by Dale Peterson

The Chronicle Magazine

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