Urinetown director, Coralyn Martin, has created an ensemble cast of understudy actors who will perform as a principal role in one performance each during the run of the production. I have asked understudy actress, Hannah Williiams, to speak on her experience with this unique production.
What role(s) are you an understudy for?
HANNAH: I am the understudy for Penelope Pennywise, which has been a role that I have wanted to perform since I was in the ensemble of this show in high school over 13 years ago. I am so thrilled to get to go on as this character.
What challenges have you faced in learning two roles for this production?
HANNAH: This is the first time that I have been an understudy, so it has been a challenge from the beginning, but an enjoyable one. I would say the biggest challenge has been making sure I know where I need to be and when. Learning lines is always kind of routine, you drill them until you can’t help but know them. But when you have to remember two sets of blocking, it can get tricky. Particularly when you don’t really get to run your understudy blocking as much during rehearsals.
Can you share a funny story and/or particularly fond memory you’ve made in this experience?
HANNAH: There are many small moments over the whole process of the show that I will hold very close to my heart. This is the first musical I have been able to do in close to 8 years, and it has been the most fun I’ve had in those 8 years. I believe I have made some lifelong friends. The people in this cast, and our incredible director and vocal director, have been such a joy to work with and are just so TALENTED. I think the memory that sticks out most to me would be callbacks, which most of the cast were invited to. I personally didn’t know anyone there at the time. During the callbacks everyone was incredibly welcoming and encouraging to each other. We would cheer for and laugh at each other, there was sharing of cough drops, and commiserating about how challenging certain parts were. There was no animosity or sense of competition, we were just all there to have fun. All of us just wanted to put on a great show, something that I believe we have definitely accomplished.
When can audiences see you as Penelope Pennywise?
HANNAH: I go on as Penelope Pennywise on Saturday September 17th. The show is going to be fantastic any night you come. Cora Hoaglin as Penelope Pennywise is hilarious, and special shout out to the talented Aaron Hoffman for coming into the show directly from Lil’ Abner to be my understudy for Senator Fipp so I can go on as Penelope Pennywise.
Urinetown opens this Friday, September 9th, at the Roger T. Sermon Center. Tickets can be purchased in advance at:
Come back on different nights to see these talented understudies portray their principal roles.
What is Urinetown?
Urinetown is here!
It’s the “town” wherever
People learn to live in fear
– Lyrics from What is Urinetown
What is Urinetown? Just a silly, nonsensical musical, or is it something much more complex than that?
Urinetown explores the economic philosophy of a Malthusian society. Malthusian theory, in simple terms, is an economic theory that explains human population grows at a significantly more rapid rate than the production of necessary resources and that the increase of population will decline the quality of human life. We see a perfect example of a Malthusian society in the setting of Urinetown. The story is set in a dystopian future where a water shortage has caused a worldwide crisis. To combat the minute availability of this critical resource, people must pay a fee to use public facilities. This has caused a rift in the socioeconomic structure of society. The rich can obviously afford to use the bathroom whenever the need arises, whereas the poor have to save every last penny in order to tend to their basic human needs.
Urinetown is also an example of Brechtian “epic theatre.” The Brechtian technique features narrators who often “break the fourth wall” during the story as a way to force the audience to become conscious of the fact that they are watching a play. Brechtian epic theatre is used to cause audiences to think and reflect. The characters of Officer Lockstock and Little Sally are the narrators of Urinetown and have moments where they “break the fourth wall” to engage with the audience.
Urinetown also parodies several well-known musicals. The show features a pair of star-crossed lovers that are clearly a spoof of Tony and Maria from West Side Story. Moments of the rebellion parody Les Miserables and the plot is a clear parody of The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht, the “father” of Brechtian epic theatre.
Urinetown is a thought-provoking, audience engaging experience under the guise of a silly, satirical musical.
Urinetown runs September 9th-18th at the Roger T. Sermon Center. Tickets can be purchased in advance through this link-
City Theatre of Independence is opening the 2022-2023 season with the musical comedy, Urinetown. Urinetown is a satirical comedy about politicism, capitalism, populism and corporate mismanagement. The musical premiered in 2001 with music by Mark Hollman and book by Greg Kotis.
The story takes place in a dystopian society that is suffering from a water shortage. Due to this shortage, private amenities are outlawed and every citizen must pay a fee to use public toilets. The public toilets are owned by the corrupt megacorporation “Urine Good Company” or “UGC.” Hero of the story, Bobby Strong, recognizes the injustices perpetuated by this cooperation and leads the “pee-for-free” rebellion.
Auditions for Urinetown are June 27th, 28th, and 29th at the Roger T. Sermon Center with callbacks by invitation on July 2nd.
Additional audition information can be found here- https://sites.google.com/view/cti-urinetownauditions#h.ykxyienqhur6
- Officer Lockstock – The principal narrator, a policeman in charge of finding guilty pee-ers
- Bobby Strong – The dashing young “every man” who works for Miss Pennywise as the Assistant Custodian at the poorest urinal in town. Also the male romantic lead who falls in love with Hope Cladwell and starts the revolution
- Dr. Billeaux – A scientist for Urine Good Company
- Senator Fipp – A corrupt politician in Cladwell’s pocket. He is harboring a surprising secret
- Mr. McQueen – Cladwell’s assistant. A man who will do anything to save himself
- Officer Barrel – Lockstock’s partener. He harbors a surprising secret
- Joseph “old Man” Strong – Bobby Stong’s father. His rebellious actions get him sent to “Urinetown”
- Tiny Tom – A confused “man-boy”
- Caldwell B. Cladwell – The villain of the story and the owner of Urine Good Company. A moneygrabber who exploits the poor
- Hot Blades Harry – A dangerous and unpredictable rebel
- Robby the Stockfish – A poor rebel
- Billy Boy Bill – A poor rebel
- Penelope Pennywise – The tough, jaded warden of the poorest urinal in town. She harbors a surprising secret
- Little Sally – A precocious street urchin and co-narrator of the story
- Hope Cladwell – Caldwell B. Cladwell’s daughter who has just been hired at Urine Good Company. The female romantic lead
- Soupy Sue – An affectionate member of the gang
- Little Becky Two-shoes – A pregnant woman
- Josephine “ma” Strong – Bobby Strong’s mother
- Mrs. Millennium – An office worker who inspires to be Caldwell B. Cladwell’s head secretary