By Skyler Bluemel
Southern Utah possesses the reputation of hosting one of the greatest theatrical events of the year: The Utah Shakespeare Festival. Not only does Southern Utah University present art as sophisticated as Shakespeare, but also as culturally accessible and …er… quirky as Urinetown. And, man, do they exceed all expectations!
The award-winning Urinetown: The Musical, music and lyrics by Greg Kotis and book and lyrics by Mark Hollman, tells the story of a small town plagued with a drought for the past 20 years, an overpowered company with the mission of preserving water (inflicting some tyranny in the process), and a revolution built upon love and Hope.
The last time I saw Urinetown, I was an uncultured sophomore in high school and had the time of my life. This time, I’d like to think I have a bit more culture and found myself enjoying it even more. Many audience members in Utah refrain from attending this show simply because of the title, expecting vulgarity and topics not worth discussing. Well, that very idea is addressed in the opening song of the musical itself. These concerns should be assuaged. The story proves relatable to every person in some fashion – whether social tyranny, environmentalism, love stories, incredible humor, or addicting music reflect your taste, Urinetown: The Musical has it, and much more.
Southern Utah University’s production, directed by Melinda Vaughan and assisted by Cambry Salway, expertly captures the feeling of oppression and revolution in a fashion that splits your sides, hurts your cheeks, and pulls at your heart. The music direction by Cameron Kinnear presents a well-balanced, character-driven, powerful explosion of sound guaranteed to get toes tapping and spirits soaring. Megan Brunsvold and Kyrsten M. Harper’s choreography was nothing short of genius – every motion and every position is perfectly executed, masterfully staged, and artistically crafted to entertain and engross each audience member in the magnificent world created by the performers simply overflowing with talent and passion.
Most striking are Ian Allred (Officer Lockstock), Courtney McMullin (Hope Cladwell), and Sara Funk (Little Sally). Allred’s character produces an idiosyncratic atmosphere of well-timed humor, exceptional vocals, and the physical element and energy worthy of the Great White Way. McMullin’s portrayal perfectly fits the image of Hope Cladwell I have clung to over the years: ambitious, innocent, full of love, and as good as they come. She acts and sings with the expectation of an actress with the experience of a long and successful career under her belt.
Funk is the driving force of the entire production. Her ability to emote indescribable joy and then immediately switch to complete devastation is coveted by all. Everything, down to her braids and ruffle dress, is extremely polished and represents the talent necessary to make it far. Watch out for this one!
Also, very impressive are the vocals of Keaton Delmar Johns (Bobby Strong). His tone is clear, his pitch is centered, and the control he possesses is nothing short of astounding. The costuming by Wendy A. Sanders created a beautiful dichotomy of color and vigor against the tone of strife and struggle presented by the story. Both the set and lighting, designed by Brian Jude Beacom and Heather Reynolds, respectively, stimulate the senses and coaxes the imagination – works of true art.
Every aspect of the production exudes masterful expertise, ardent and dedicated individuals, and an experience worthy of retelling again and again. Oh, and to top it all off, the live orchestra, conducted by Kinnear, plays with perfect accuracy and vigor. GO SEE THIS SHOW!
Southern Utah University presents Urinetown: The Musical by Greg Kotis and Mark Hollman
Randall L. Jones Theater 300 W Center St, Cedar City UT, 84720
April 13, 14, 16, and 20, 2018 at 7:30 PM and April 14 and 21, 2018 at 2:00 PM
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